The Doodlebugs of the Georgia Northern
by Don Hensley
The Georgia Northern Railroad, like most short-lines during the Great Depression of the 1930’s needed to solve their passenger train deficits. The rural areas between Albany and Boston depended on the passenger service and enough people still rode the trains that there was still six passenger trains a day. But the cost of proving this service was staggering and they needed a better option, specially in the more rural area south of Moultrie. So they turned to the gas motor car.
One of the first cars was the M-12, an Edwards Model 10 that was purchased used in 1932 from the Yadkin RR, their number 100. Here William Monypeny had photographed it at Moultrie in June of 1938 with his lovely wife Priscilla posing by the front of the car. This model 10 was built in 1922 and weighed 10 tons and was 32 feet long with a 75 horse power Buda engine and could carry 25 passengers. Look closely by the baggage door and you can see that it is stuffed with mail bags which makes one wonder how the motor man was able to operate this car with all those bags at his elbow. These cars were painted dark green with the exception of the next photo.
This shot of the 12 was photographed by CW Witbeck in September of 1940 in which it looks like a lighter color was used, quite possibly a yellow.
The M-14 was built by the Yellow Bus Co. and could carry 20 passengers but does not have much room for mail and express. Monypeny photographed this car in June of 1938 with his wife posing again. She would mostly show up in shots of motor cars and rolling stock, subjects that her husband did not care as much about like he cared about steam locomotives. Sometimes she will pose in the cab of a steamer or a frontal shot, but only after he had taken a photo without her in it.
The 55 was actually the second 55, as the first 55 caught on fire in 1944 and was destroyed, they liked this model so well they went out and bought another from Georgia Car & Locomotive the same year. This Brill Model 55, serial number 21566 was built in 1922 for the Western Pacific as their # 198. Weighing in at 14.5 tons and carrying up to 42 passengers, though it was a bit underpowered with a 68 horse- power Service Motor Truck engine. D.M. Rice took this photo in March of 1955.
By 1957 the 55 was sporting a knuckle coupler on the front end. There are a couple of theories on this. One theory advanced by Bob Hanson is that the car broke down so much it made towing it back to the shop easier. My theory is that it may have been used as a passenger car on the mixed train. There was no coupler on rear. This shot was taken by W. E. Miller in March of 1957 in Moultrie.
Motor Car number 56 may have been bought the same time as second number 55, and may have been Western Pacific # 199. Here the Brill Model 55 was photographed in May of 1950 by Guy Dunscomb.
The 527 is also a Brill Model 55, but there is no other information about whom or where it came from. Photographed by D.M. Rice in March of 1955 in Moultrie.
Another shot of the
527, here taken by Guy Dunscomb in May of 1950. The notes on the negative
envelope stated it was painted green.
This is the 528, the sister to the 527. Quite possibly bought at the same time. This photo was shot in Moultrie around 1950. Why these two engines were numbered 527 and 528 is lost to history, though it is possible they carried those numbers from the railroad these were bought from. Or the Georgia Northern just wanted to confuse future generations of railfans.
This is Georgia Northern number 2, in Moultrie in March of 1960. Built by St. Louis Car and Fairbanks-Morse in 1939 for Southern Ry #2. This 800 horsepower and 81 foot long baggage and express motor car was provided by the Southern after they bought the Georgia Northern. It’s unknown if the trailer coach car came with this unit. I would assume it was used for carry the mail and express along the line during the last years of such service along with hauling a few cars of freight.