Alma Depot, Alma Georgia

Date added: January 3, 2023 Categories: Georgia Train Station

The location of present-day Alma was first a stop on a logging railroad where it crossed Big Hurricane Creek. When the McLaughlin, Deen and Company turpentine business started around 1899, Alma was named and became a post office. The town was incorporated in 1904 but not laid out until 1906. The depot, completed that same year, was outside the original town plan. In 1910 the town population was 458 but after Bacon County was created in 1914, Alma became the county seat and its population rose to 1,061 by the 1920 Census. These first decades of the town's growth saw business and residential structures constructed along either side of the railroad, around the depot.

The original rail line through what is now Alma was constructed after 1887 by the Offerman and Western Railroad Company as a logging railroad. The property was sold on July 1, 1902 to the Brunswick and Birmingham Railroad Company. This railroad failed in 1904 and was purchased by the Atlantic and Birmingham Railway (A&B). In 1905, the Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic Railroad (AB&A) was organized to purchase the Atlanta and Birmingham, to extend its trackage, develop mineral lands, and commence rail-water interchange of traffic at Brunswick.

The AB&A was placed in receivership in 1921. A reorganization was completed in 1926 and the line became the AB&C under control of the Atlanta Coast Line (ACL). With aid from the large and successful ACL, the AB&C developed into a profitable road with its main line then running to Waycross and the trackage to Brunswick (the track through Alma) becoming a branch.

The last line to operate through here was the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. Passenger service stopped in 1952 and freight service later. During its peak from 1906 through the 1920's the depot saw as many as six passenger trains daily, three eastbound and three westbound.

The coming of the railroad coincided with the increased economic growth of the area. Thick pine forests led to the development of pine-related industries including turpentine, rosin, crossties, lumber, and logging. Near present day Alma the large McLaughlin, Deen and Company turpentine still, that depended heavily upon the railroad for shipment of raw products to the coast, was established around 1899.

The Alma depot, when built in 1905-06, resembled many being constructed during the same era, and especially in south Georgia, although its roofline is distinctive. Its tile roof, probably covered with Ludowici-made tile, and long rectangular shape was reminiscent of other depots along the line. It was the only depot ever built in Alma and served as a community focal point for the several decades during which it handled passenger service.

After the ending of rail service to Alma, the depot remained in the ownership of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. By 1975 it was being leased for a feed and seed business and local citizens sought it for reuse as part of a 1976 Bicentennial project. Negotiations ensued and it was eventually transferred first to a private citizen, Mr. Harold L. Chancey, who in 1980 sold it.

Building Description

The Alma Depot is.a one story, rectangular shaped frame structure built in 1906. It is covered in flush novelty siding and has a low roof with broad, overhanging eaves and little ornamentation. Remains of an elevated wooden platform are found on the south and west sides. The eastern end of the roof is hipped while the western end forms a gable. The roofing is now composition shingles. Exterior doors are simple paneled types and the window surrounds are plain boards attached to the sub-sheathing. Several windows have iron burglar bars. The overhanging roof is supported on the corners by simple, angled corner braces. Simple, exposed rafters support the overhanging roof on three sides.

The interior of the depot is divided into two waiting rooms on the east, an office in the middle, and a large warehouse room on the west. The two waiting rooms have narrow horizontal beaded-board flush paneling on the walls and ceilings with vertical wainscoting surrounding the rooms at window level. The eastern portions of the waiting rooms have had two restrooms added to each of them. Each waiting room has a window leading to the office area and an exterior door. The office has paneling exactly like the waiting rooms. It has an observation bay protruding southward toward the railroad tracks with diamond patterned sash in the upper window. Other windows open to the waiting rooms. The warehouse area is approximately 60 feet by 27 feet and has two large, sliding doors on each side and one on the end. This area has no interior paneling and the ceiling is supported by an exposed truss system of wooden beams.

The depot is located in downtown Alma adjacent to the railroad tracks and is surrounded by commercial buildings. A residential area lies to the north. The railroad tracks have been removed. There is no landscaping at present and no outbuildings are associated with the structure. Changes to the building include the removal of most of the wooden loading platform,. rearrangement of the interior space in the 1930s, and the replacement of the original tile roof.

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Front view (1982)
Front view (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Rear view (1982)
Rear view (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia End view (1982)
End view (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Detail of south side (1982)
Detail of south side (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Detail of south side (1982)
Detail of south side (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Office with windows of waiting rooms (1982)
Office with windows of waiting rooms (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Office, north side door (1982)
Office, north side door (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Waiting Room (1982)
Waiting Room (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Sliding door in warehouse area (1982)
Sliding door in warehouse area (1982)

Alma Depot, Alma Georgia Storage area in warehouse area (1982)
Storage area in warehouse area (1982)