Last Stop…Decatur

Chris Billingsley sends in some excellent photos circa 1988 of what he believes may have been the last passenger train to ever stop at the Decatur Depot.  He writes…

While looking for some pictures for a school project, I found something from 1988. As I remember, the New Georgia Railroad had plans to bring tourists from Atlanta to Stone Mountain with a stop-over in Decatur. I believe that we still had double tracks that allowed trains to run in both directions (east to west) at the same time. The large tree seen in the background was the same tree that shaded a president (maybe Warren G. Harding) in a famous photo from the early 1920s .

Two more great shots – with captions! – after the jump…

I believe that Decatur Mayor Mike Mears and Congressman Ben Jones (“Cooter” from the T.V. series, “The Dukes of Hazzard”) are waving from the caboose. That event may have been the last time a passenger train stopped at the depot.

The people standing under the “Decatur” train sign are Mary C. Billingsley, Ann, Eddie, and Martha Fowlkes. Does anyone know what happened to that sign? A lot of Decatur children learned the distance from Decatur to Atlanta from that sign.

13 thoughts on “Last Stop…Decatur”

  1. Wow! Great pictures! Double tracks? I can’t imagine twice the noise and traffic stops today. Eddie Fowlkes in his ever present baseball hat and Anne with long hair! Thanks Mr. Billingsley (a parent who had two kids in your classes can only think of you as Mr!)

  2. I know my wife took the “New Georgia Railroad” trip with her parents once from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain well after we moved here in August of 1988, so I doubt that was the last one… I remember her telling me people came out and waved from “Atlanta’s Oldest Hardware Store” where Sun In My Belly is currently located. Great pictures!

  3. I could be wrong but I thought I rode this from Point X to Stone Mountain and back sometime around 1997, maybe it was earlier. At that point, there was not a Decatur stop, I don’t believe.

  4. I remember a Ben Jones ‘whistle stop’ campaign trip in 1988 (maybe 1986 or 1990) with stops and speeches in Decatur and Stone Mountain.

    The “New Georgia Railroad” dinner train came through Decatur without a stop at about the same time.

    The Georgia Railroad operated a mixed train (combination freight and passenger) until 1983. See for details. This train would stop in Decatur on request (either by a call to the dispatcher or a request to the Decatur freight agent. In the late 1970’s, my wife to be, two little boys we were babysitting for the weekend and I caught the train in Decatur and went all the way to Augusta. It took all day! It was the middle of the summer and was HOT – no AC. The railroad folks did put a cooler of water on for us. We got to ride part of the trip in the caboose. The coach was just in front of the caboose. There were over 100 freight cars between us and the engines. Stopping and starting was very interesting. The Decatur agent said we were the first passengers of the year.

    1. Thanks. Sometime in the 1980s (I think), there was an article in the “DeKalb Extra” section of the AJC that described the last passenger service on a CSX train to Augusta. The description was similar to what you posted. What a great experience for you and the boys.

      1. Freight Room! My mom (also a reader of Decatur Metro) used to work there. I remember visiting when I was a kid.

    1. I loved the Freightroom! Especially open-mic comedy night. Oh, my there were some interesting characters that showed up to tell it like it was.

    2. Loved the Freight Room too. Not so much the food, but the atmosphere, especially out on the deck. A regular Southern Bicycle League group ride started and ended there on Saturdays and was named for the location.

  5. It was not necessarily the last train to stop in Decatur. The pictures are the New Georgia Railroad excursion train that ran between Zero Mile Post in Atlanta and Stone Mountain until 1994 when it stopped running. It sometimes paused in Decatur to board or discharge passengers.

    BTW, the double track were not both running tracks – one was a dead-end passing track, so there was no more through traffic at that time than now.

  6. I loved the New Georgia Railroad. One of my first jobs was working with the crews removing the old asbestos brake pad linings from the trains. I was very sad to see them close up shop.

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