Flemington, Hinesville, & Western Railroad

This railroad was built by Joseph B. Way of Flemington just after the turn of the twentieth century. He made a for­tune in naval stores in the Florida panhandle near the end of the nineteenth century. With financial backing from a group of naval stores exporters at Brunswick, Georgia, he built his railroad from the depot of the Atlantic Coastline Railroad at Mclntosh to his own depot on North Main Street in Hines­ville. The railroad operated from about 1910 until it discon­tinued operations for economic reasons near the beginning of 1919.


Way was the railroad's president. Edmund Way, his son, was its vice president. Donald Fraser was its superintend­ent of transportation.


Carl Brewer, Waldo Floyd, and Wardlow Griner operated the train during its earliest days. As time went by Brewer left to organize the Martin and Brewer Ford Motor Company in Hinesville with Ernest V. Martin, Floyd left for other pur­suits, and Griner departed after injuring his leg uncoupling railroad cars.


During its last years the railroad had Robert Smith, Orin Beasley, and Clinton Howard as firemen, Ben Way as engineer, and Aaron Brewer as conductor and agent at the Hinesville depot. A black gentleman served as baggage master, and lit an oil-burning lamp on a post at the end of the depot when the last train of the day arrived after dark during the winter months.


There was a depot but no agent at Flemington.


On front of a full-sized, wood-burning locomotive owned by the railroad was the number "9." The train was generally referred to by local residents as "Old Number Nine," and by local wits as the "Farmers, Horse, and Wagon Railroad."


On busy days the train used as many as 20 passenger and freight cars, but the average was much less than that. It sometimes made four round trips daily to Mclntosh haul­ing passengers, U.S. mail, produce, poultry and eggs, cattle and hogs, forestry products, and naval stores.


It traveled on a track which paralleled what today is U.S. Highway 82 to Flemington, and then cut across a field in rear of the home of O.C. Martin Sr., and then passed through Goshen Swamp on its way to McIntosh. There was a water tank used by the train near the Martin home.


Irregular stops were made at a turpen tine still located across the tracks from the National Guard Armory in Hinesville, the Floyd brothers sawmill at Flemington, and the Savannah Lumber Company near the Martin home.


Roland Brewton, a young man when the railroad was in operation, said that at various times he served as relief con­ductor, station agent at Hinesville, fireman, wood hauler, and "everything except president and vice president." There were times, Brewton recalled, when he was even called to the railroad office on courthouse square to help bring the books up to date.


The train reportedly suffered two accidents during its approximately eight years of operation. Nobody was serious­ly injured in either accident. Brewton could vividly recall one of the accidents.


"At the time," he said, "I was the conductor and riding in the caboose on a trip from Mclntosh to Hinesville. I believe Waldo Floyd was the engineer. As we approached Fleming­ton he blew the whistle to let me know we were coming to the station. I leaned out of the window and waved my hand to let him know that we had no passengers or freight for Flemington. He acknowledged my signal with two blasts of the whistle.


Brewton said that there was a switch for a side track at the beginning of a curve in the tracks at Flemington. He said the engineer gave the locomotive more speed and it "split" the track at the beginning of the curve. He said every wheel of the train went off the tracks except for those over which he was riding. He recalled that he was unaware of the trouble until the wheels "started bouncing on the crossties, and the train came to a jarring halt."


Still other Liberty Countians remember another accident when the entire train left the tracks at Flemington. All traffic on the line ceased until another locomotive was brought out from Savannah, Georgia, to clear the tracks.


Donald F. Martin Jr. was seated on the front porch of his father's home when the latter accident occurred only a short distance away and in full view. "I was the first person on the scene," Martin recalled, "other than the train personnel."


William Byron Way, farmer, deer hunter, lawyer, and news­paper columnist, called himself "B. Way" and once wrote a poem for his son, Ben Way, engineer on the Flemington, Hinesville & Western Railroad, in which he imagined he was Aaron Brewer, the conductor, giving instructions to the engineer as the train passed through Goshen Swamp:


A Stormy Night on the Western


The Water is high and the track is low,

Be careful Ben and run her slow,

Remember we both have wives,

And can't afford to lose our lives.


You know that the Martin trestle is weak,

The water is black and running deep,

And if the Nine Spot plunges in,

We will have to meet death in our sins.


If you see any thing that looks like death,

Blow the whistle with every breath,

Apply the brakes before she bumps,

And watch old Aaron jump.


Jump, yes, I will jump up in the sky,

Before I stay here and die,

My friends will all forgive me not,

If I get killed by the old Nine Spot.


So put some oil in the tallow cup,

And at every dark place slow her up,

And, Ben, I hope you will not fail,

To keep the Nine Spot on the rails.


Now skin out, Ben, we're done across,

And luckily without a loss,

Pull out the throttle and let her slosh,

Or we will be late at McIntosh.


So, Ben, you know we are the boys,

That never stops to fear no noise,

And if the Nine Spot holds the rails,

We'll be on time with the western mail.


Now, Robert, shovel in the coal,

And watch Ben make them driver's roll

He's got the orders in his hand,

The Nine Spot's going to the promised land.  


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