by Jason Greene
The Central of Georgia Railway was originally chartered in 1833 to connect Savannah, GA to the Mississippi River. It made it as far west as Birmingham and Montgomery, AL via Macon and Columbus, GA. From Macon the railroad expanded to the south to Albany, GA and Dothan, AL and to the north to Atlanta, GA and Chattanooga, TN. By 1937, the Central of Georgia had begun modernizing their passenger car fleet. Included in the upgrade was offering air conditioning to all patrons. The Bethlehem Steel Company of Pennsylvania was contracted to build 5 air conditioned “light weight” passenger cars. 651 was the second car built in the class and the only survivor of the class. These cars were the first cars bought new and delivered with air conditioning for the Central of Georgia.
651 was delivered painted in Pullman Green with gold Central of Georgia lettering. In 1947, the car was painted Blue and Gray to match the Central’s streamlined train the “Nancy Hanks.” 651 served as a back up car for this train and also served time in regular service on Trains 5 and 6 between Savannah and Augusta, GA. J.J. Finnegan Co. of Atlanta painted the car in the “Chocolate and Orange” paint scheme of the Illinois Central for use on the Seminole, a train the ran from Chicago to Florida that the Central provided cars to the pool of cars. The date for this paint job is unknown at this time.
The 651 was donated to the Atlanta Chapter of the NRHS in 1968 by the Southern Railway. In the 1980s the car was leased to the New Georgia Railroad for use in excursion service. The car was updated with a diesel generator to power the electrical system on board the car. While on the New Georgia the car was renumbered 1111.