(c) By Gary L. Howard
History Part 2 History Part 3 History Part 4 The Club Now
Part 1: The Train Depot before the Club
The story of the Middle Georgia Model Railroad Club begins appropriately at the train station - the former Georgia Southern & Florida Railway station in Warner Robins, Ga., that is. A train depot seems like a natural location for a small group of model railroaders to start a club, especially one with limited financial resources in a small town with few available public facilities. The club would build and maintain a permanent model railroad layout here for roughly 20 years before moving on to other locations. Since the depot was the clubs "home terminal" for so many years let's take a look at the depot prior to its role as a clubhouse, art gallery, welcome center and historic landmark.
Warner Robins (Wellston) Depot
In the fall of 1882 a group of Philadelphia businessmen incorporated the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad with the purpose of building a railroad from Macon, Ga. to what many speculators at the time believed would become a major southeastern seaport - Palatka, Fla. (Railway succeeded Railroad in 1895 after reorganization under Southern Railway control). They formed the Macon Construction Co. to build the approximately 285 mile line, with surveying and construction starting around 1884.
Progress was slow at first, but by 1887 the line was within site of the spot where a station would be built. Named Wellston Depot by local landowner, farmer, and businessman Henry Feagin, in time, as a community grew up around it, the "Depot" part of the name was dropped and it became simply Wellston. The depot was located on the east side of the tracks just about where, today, the southbound lane of Hwy. 247 and Watson Blvd. meet.
Having been replaced by the present structure, which was dedicated on Feb. 1, 1944, the old wooden depot was purchased by the First Presbyterian Church and moved by mule-team to their property on Watson Blvd. where it was integrated into their existing sanctuary. The new brick building was located on the west side of the tracks to make way for a new highway to be built from the airfield to the Macon area, whence the vast majority of the new workforce would be commuting daily.
The train station would serve the Warner Robins - Houston County community as a passenger stop (until 1963 when service ended), freight agency, and train-order office until it was closed by Southern Railway in late 1970. It would then sit idle for about three years until community and business interests would stir it back to life once again.