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Railroads history focus of White County history program
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The Feb. 7 program for White County Historical Society will be presented by Bill Huff, Sarah McQuade and David Greear on how a local railroad and timber company joined to help the region grow.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the old courthouse museum on the square in Cleveland. It is free and the public is invited.

In 1911, Byrd-Matthews Investment Co. owned 36,000 acres of virgin timberland on the southeastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The company built one of the largest sawmills in the country and invested in a 37-mile rail line from Gainesville to Helen. The result was the Byrd-Matthews Lumber Co. and the Gainesville & Northwestern Railroad.

The Gainesville and Northwestern Railroad operated both as a passenger and freight railroad between 1913 and 1931 and became an economic boom for White County.

Byrd-Matthews Lumber brought new people to the county and employed a large number of local residents.

A PowerPoint presentation will show maps of rail route, interesting places along the route, businesses in Cleveland and Helen and a general history of the company and its influence in the area.

Regional events