It's 1947 in the deep South during Indian Summer. The war had been hard on everyone but most of the country seemed to be pulling out of it except those in the cotton business. Cotton prices plummeted as cotton is produced in the Middle East and elsewhere and boll weevils were on the rise. The Savannah Central Railway, already bankrupt once as the Savannah Central Railroad, was barely making it and could go into receivership at any time. Times were tough.
It's fleet of three ex-Southern locomotives were in dire need of heavy maintenance and the track was unreliable. Heavy rains in the spring coupled with a drought during the summer had caused countless trees to fall on the tracks. Bridges were patched up and patched again. New rail cars made entirely of steel were starting to show up, but none were owned by the tiny railroad.
229 miles of track stretched out from the port near Tybee Island, Georgia, along the Savannah River, up to Toccoa, Georgia. Most of it is a hodge-podge of abandoned right-of-ways left over from other bigger railroads like the Southern, Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line. The State of Georgia continued to want the struggling railroad to survive as agriculture is still the state's bread and butter.
The railroad was the better choice for shipping cotton, as compared to the barges that used to run the length of the Savannah River. The river is the eastern boarder of Georgia, separating it from South Carolina. Cotton was grown all along its length and the rich soil along the river gave the soil depleting cotton a great source of nutrients. The boll weevils thought it was tasty, anyway.
Sharecroppers manually chopped (hoed) the cotton and picked it by hand, but some machinery was starting to come into play. Cotton gins were located in most every town and wagons and trucks brought their loads in for processing. Mill were built to process the cotton into articles of clothing, sacks and other commodities. Much of the cotton was still exported at the ports in and around Savannah. The railroad tied the network together.
This year's crop might be the first good one in years, so we have a chance at making a little money. If the locomotives run, the bridges hold and the boll weevil doesn't eat it before its picked.
Purpose of the Layout:
To represent a struggling Georgia shortline in the late 1940's that handled transportation of agricultural products (mainly cotton) for production and export.