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Streetcars of Glynn County, Georgia
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The streetcar days of Glynn County

By Tyler E. Bagwell

Union Street, looking South from Post Office, Brunswick, Ga.
In the late 1800s the population of Brunswick burgeoned. So to help citizens move around the city more quickly and freely a streetcar line was formed. An article printed in the December 1888 edition of Harper's Magazine states, "The Brunswick Street Railroad, controlled by the Brunswick Company, operates the street railroad system in the city and on St. Simons Island..." The Brunswick Company also owned in the late 1880s the Oglethorpe Hotel in Brunswick and the Hotel St. Simons with its vacation cottages on St. Simons.

The Brunswick streetcar system in the 1890s most likely consisted of a horse or mule-drawn trolley that operated on a track. The rails of the track were located on roads within the main business district as well as in some of the residential areas.

Post Office and Custom House, Brunswick, Ga.
While St. Simons Island during this period was accessible only by water, it too had a streetcar line that began near the island's south end dock. According to the Coastal Georgia Historical Society's book Historic Glimpses of St. Simons Island, "Rails were laid on the pier and up the length of 'Railroad Avenue' and a mule-drawn trolley met passengers arriving by boat. The trolley was later replaced by the 'Limited' drawn by a small engine, and still later a motor-driven streetcar carried vacationers to hotels, boarding houses or cottages."

In Brunswick, construction of an electric streetcar line began around 1909. It was completed in 1911 and tracks were located in the center of several city roads including Bay, Union, Newcastle, Albany and Gloucester. An electrical line, running directly above the tracks, supplied power to operate the streetcar engines. In the 1912 Brunswick City Directory F.D.M. Strachen, Albert Fendig, F. D. Aiken, and George Smith were listed as the proprietors of the City & Suburban Railway Company.

Gloucester Street Looking East, Brunswick, Ga.
J. Wesley Wellman, a Fancy Bluff resident born in 1907, recalls that in the early 1920s Brunswick's electric streetcars were yellow in color, had glassed-in windows, and cost around 10 cents to ride. Mr. Wellman, a man of African-descent, elucidates that black citizens were unable to ride on the streetcars because of segregation and instead, had to rely on taxis. He reminisces that during the 1920s horses and carriages were a typical sight on downtown streets and cows were often seen staked out in vacant city lots.

Lovers Oak, Brunswick, Ga.
When the streetcars operated in Brunswick, Gladys Fendig remembers that the city fire trucks were still horse-drawn. Ms. Fendig, a long-time citizen of Glynn County, keenly recalls that the streetcar seats were made of woven straw and that the vehicles briefly sparked whenever the pole on the roof re-engaged with the electric line. She also explains that the tracks on Albany Street passed under an arched branch of the Lover's Oak.

In July of 1924 the F.J. Torras Causeway, the roadway between Brunswick and St. Simons Island, was constructed. Passenger boat service to St. Simons was terminated and the St. Simons trolley business closed. By 1926 the electric streetcar line in Brunswick was discontinued. The decline of the community's streetcar systems coincided with the rise of the automobile.


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