Columbus in Muscogee County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
The "Chattahoochee Choo Choo"
The Fort Benning Light Railway
— A 60-centimeter narrow-gauge railroad —
From 1919 until 1946 the Fort Benning narrow-gauge railway spanned much of the post, serving as a utility and as the primary means of transporting soldiers to and from their training areas. It also carried supplies and assisted in lumbering and gravel operations across the post. The railway grew from two locomotives in 1919 running on a mile of track to an eventual high point in 1923 of 20 locomotives running on 27 miles of track.
Between the war years the aging 60-centimeter-gauge railway became ever more expensive to maintain and it was inevitable that it would soon be honorably retired. Most probably sentiment and tradition rather than requirement and
The origin of Fort Benning's railway
The establishment of Fort Benning's light railway must be credited to the imagination and zeal of Colonel Sam Robertson, a fabled Texas railroader who had commanded the 22nd Engineers, Light Railway, in France. Dispatched to survey 13 Army posts for railways, he arrived at Camp Benning, his first stop, on April 23, 1919. His prompt report back to Washington recommended, as a first step, a 5.62-mile utility line to serve the target range, haul freight, and to service the sawmill and gravel pit. His hastily drawn plan called for 42 miles to serve future training areas. Robertson then continued his tour to other army posts, but his enthusiasm for the Benning project was strong. He enlisted the help of Major George Lewis, who served in France with the 16th Engineers; Lewis agreed to carry out Robertson's plan at Benning. Per Robertson's request, two Davenport locomotives, 16 flat cars, and three miles of track and equipment were shipped to Fort Benning, arriving on May 27, 1919. By June Major Lewis' men had laid one mile of track and had the sawmill cutting railroad ties. As a result of Robertson's survey and the investigations of others, the Chief of Engineers decided that light railways would be installed at 19 wide-spread army posts, with trackage totaling 340 miles. Washington determined that the plan was too ambitious! In April 1920, it was decided that Camp Benning would become a permanent installation (becoming Fort Benning) and would maintain its railway. All other installation railways were disapproved.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & Streetcars • War, World I • War, World II. A significant historical date for this entry is April 23, 1919.
Location. 32° 23.246′ N, 84° 57.342′ W. Marker is in Columbus, Georgia, in Muscogee County. Marker can be reached from Legacy Way east of South Lumpkin Road. Located behind the National Infantry Museum. Marker is at or near this postal address:. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1775 Legacy Way, Columbus GA 31903, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dedicated to the American Revolutionary War Infantryman (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); World Trade Center Beam Memorial (about 500 feet away); Specialist Ross A. McGinnis (about 700 feet away); The Infantryman (about 700 feet away); 32nd Infantry Regiment Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Operation Just Cause (approx. 0.2 miles away); 70th Infantry Div. (approx. 0.2 miles away); 503d Infantry Regiment (Airborne) Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbus.
Also see . . . About the Fort Benning Narrow Gauge Railroad engines. (Submitted on March 11, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on March 11, 2018. It was originally submitted on March 11, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 232 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on March 11, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.