Iron Horse Development 1830-1860


Barnesville was part of Pike County from its beginning until 1921. During its early stages of development, it was not connected to any of the surrounding county seats until 1833. Forsyth, the county seat of Monroe, was about 15 miles to the east. Zebulon, the Pike County seat, was about 12 miles west. Thomaston, the county seat of Upson County, was about 14 miles to the southwest. In 1833, the County Commissioners of Upson decided to fund the cutting of a road through the wilderness to Barnesville from the courthouse square in Thomaston.

Advent of the Railroad

woman in buggyWith the advent of the railroad, Barnesville continued to prosper. One of Barnesville's first citizens, Benjamin Mosley Milner, helped build the first railroad in Georgia. The Monroe Railroad and Banking Company was chartered December 23, 1833 by the Georgia Legislature to establish a line between Macon and Forsyth. The Macon and Western R. R. line to Barnesville was completed in 1841 connecting the village to the main line at Forsyth. The spur line between Barnesville and Thomaston was laid in 1847. The train to Thomaston was known as "the Tom Cat". In later years, the line to Thomaston was operated by the Central of Georgia R. R. The Central, when completed in 1843, was the longest line built and owned by one corporation in Georgia. Other trains which were associated with service through Barnesville were the "Nancy Hanks I and II" providing service between Atlanta and Savannah; the "Goober" providing service to Griffin and on to Atlanta beginning in the late 1880s; the "Dixie Flyer" providing service between Atlanta and Miami, Florida and the "Dummy", a spur line to Zebulon.

Both the Atlanta to Macon and the spur lines running through Barnesville are still being used today for freight shipping. The freight trains make several stops daily at various manufacturing plants to deliver supplies and transport finished goods to distributors. Both of these lines are located on their original beds.

As the iron horse became more popular, the stagecoach became used less and less. The train was quicker, more convenient and certainly more comfortable than the stagecoach.

The railroad brought new sources of growth: new merchants, new residents and new ideas. The population of Barnesville had grown to approximately 400 by the end of 1849 with 45 families. The center of the community was the depot. Everyone came to town or left town from the place which was the heart of the community. People came to town to see the trains arrive or to greet passengers. The business district grew up around the depot. As the village grew, a freight depot in addition to a passenger depot was built. The freight depot was later moved into the old Georgia Knitting Mills building which fronted the railroad tracks just east of the passenger depot. Today this building is used as a fertilizer warehouse by Akin's and Feed and Seed.

old stone depot

The stock yards were adjacent to the depot as were several cotton warehouses. The planing mill was erected along the tracks in order to receive goods and ship out finished products.

The Village of Barnesville

The village of Barnesville was established by a charter granted from the Georgia Legislature in 1852. The form of government was a Mayor-Council. This form of government is still in use today. The city limits were a half mile from Stafford's Store at the intersection of Main and Market Streets.

In 1859 the Barnesville Masonic Female Seminary was established by the Pinta Lodge No. 88. The name was changed in 1872 to Gordon Institute in honor of General John B. Gordon. In 1972, the school became a two year unit of the University System of Georgia. The name was changed at that time to Gordon Junior College.

During this period there were three main streets leading into and out of Barnesville; Forsyth Street, Zebulon Street, and Thomaston Street. All lead to the adjoining county seats and all were within 15 miles in any direction.