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Columbus & Greenville Railway

Columbus, Mississippi

Inspection photos

In the spring of 1917, agents of the Interstate Commerce Commission travelled the Southern Railway in Mississippi (precursor to the C&G) from end to end. Going town to town on nothing more than a small 2-axle gasoline motorcar, the agents took pictures of almost every structure along the line. This Mississippi tour was part of a larger ICC effort of the time to evaluate the state of the nation's railroads. These inspection images are indicated below by the notation "1917 inspection," and we are grateful to be able to have in our C&G collection copies of these historic prints.

Located along the Tombigbee River and just miles from the Alabama state line, the town of Columbus, Mississippi has seen rail service since the early 1880s. The county seat of Lowndes County, Columbus has been home to playwright Tennessee Williams, the world's largest manufacturer of flush toilets, and the venerable Columbus & Greenville Railway. In point of fact, the origins of the C&G should be traced to the other side of the state -- in Greenville, along the mighty Mississippi -- where a narrow-gauge operation proposed to build eastward from the Delta toward the hills.

But it would be Columbus in the east that would develop as the Delta Route's more active terminus, providing the shortline with shops, a company office, and the most interchange points along its entire mainline. But long before the C&G was even an idea in the minds of local businessmen, the town of Columbus was a key waypoint in the plans of the Georgia Pacific Railway Company to link Atlanta with western coalfields beyond the Mississippi River -- a mainline finally completed in the summer of 1889. Eventually, the Georgia Pacific was merged into the Richmond & Danville, itself a key component in what would become the sprawling Southern Railway system.

By 1894, rails into Columbus from the east were Southern Railway, but rails westward out of Columbus were Southern Railway Company in Mississippi. By the turn of the century, aided by the Frisco and the Mobile & Ohio, Columbus had tracks running in almost every direction.

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