Norfolk ends lease with Great Walton

COVINGTON - Norfolk Southern Corp. has terminated its lease agreement with Great Walton Railroad for the rail line running from Machen to Newborn.

Norfolk Southern Spokeswoman Susan M. Terpay said the rail line is now being leased to Squaw Creek Southern Railroad, effective Monday.

Terpay said Norfolk Southern entered into a three-year contract with Great Walton 20 years ago. After the lease expired, it was continued on a month-to-month basis, she said.

"Norfolk Southern chose to end the lease to pursue some other business opportunities," Terpay said.

Dave Bishop, general manager for Great Walton Railroad, declined to comment.

Squaw Creek Southern Railroad currently operates the line from Machen, a tiny community in Jasper County about a mile from Shady Dale, to Madison.

"This new 12.5 mile line segment will be contiguous with their existing line," Terpay said.

Newton County and city of Covington officials have discussed purchasing 14 miles of the railroad running from Ga. Highway 81 in Porterdale, through Covington and on to Rose Acres between Mansfield and Newborn for a rails-to-trails or public transportation project.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Kathy Morgan said an attorney is researching property deeds for the county, but fact-finding is the only action currently being taken on the project.

"I've had no direction from the Board of Commissioners to do anything other than to get the facts," she said.

Terpay said she has no information on a possible county/city acquisition.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.