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Transportation History

Transportation Provides Roots of County's History

Clayton's roots are in its transportation network. The county got its beginning and grew up along the rail lines. And the county seat, Jonesboro, was named for the popular engineer Colonel Samuel Goode Jones, who was in charge of that early railroad construction and resided in what was then called Leaksville.

In 1845, the railroad construction ended in Leaksville, forced to a halt by a bankrupt company. Building of the railroad continued in 1846 with another company and this time the rail lines were completed, extending the rail corridor into Atlanta to the spot where the old Union Station stood prior to its demolition in the early 1970's. This rail corridor spawned the establishment of train stops along its route: Morrow's Station, Quick Station and Rough and Ready Station. Today in their place exist the Cities of Morrow and Forest Park and the area of Mountain View.

Now for the first time in history, Clayton had a link to the Pacific and the rail corridor permitted local farmers to ship their cotton in all directions. And it was this same rail corridor that brought the Battle of Atlanta to its climax during the Civil War. When Union soldiers severed the railroad line at Jonesboro, the Confederates lost their supply line and Atlanta fell into Yankee hands. It was the convenient railroad that made Clayton County an early commuter community in the 20th century with Atlanta businessmen leaving their country estates each morning and returning in the evening on the train affectionately referred to as "The Dummy" for some long-obscured reason.

A widely-diversified industrial community grew in Clayton County as transportation options increased, particularly with the opening of the interstate highways which criss-cross Clayton turf. The development of these asphalt linkages with the rest of the nation kindled the growth of motor carrier routes that enabled the trucking industry to permeate industrial complexes to supply and be supplied needed goods.

Having within its perimeters such major arteries as I-285, I-75, I-675 and State Highways 54, 42, 85 and 138, makes Clayton and its business and industrial community highly accessible to Georgia and the rest of the nation. Recent improvements to, widening of, and extension of these highways and interstates further enhance Clayton's position as a natural location for the establishment of industry and commerce in the metro area. And it was Clayton's highly skilled professionals in the county government's Public Works Department working closely with state Department of Transportation people that effected these road and highway improvement, resulting in a savings of tax dollars to county taxpayers. (See LARP list for current listing.)