Citizens in LaFayette were becoming angered by the prices they were being charged for goods being brought into town by the already established railroad line of Central of Georgia.
Before the days of the Public Service Commission, railroads were prone to charge what they could get from the public and the Central Line of Georgia was the only link between the Opelika junction and LaFayette.
Flour was being sent from a huge milling center of Nashville, Tenn. in those
Days. It cost about 10 cents to ship a barrel from Nashville to Opelika. Then from Opelika to LaFayette over the Central of Georgia, the freight rose to about 20 to 30 cents a barrel.
The citizens of LaFayette became outraged and told the Western president that they proposed to build a dummy line from Opelika to LaFayette.
Instead of building a dummy one, they decided to go a bit further and
construct a full-gauged railroad. They did, and called it The LaFayette
Railroad Company. In May of 1896, The LaFayette Railway Company was operative from Opelika to Oakbowery. In approximately one year after the company was incorporated the entire line was in use from LaFayette to Opelika.
The railroad paralleled the Central of Georgia tracks just about all the
way to LaFayette. It entered Opelika around where 7th Street intersects
North Railroad Avenue today. The route chosen for the proposed narrow-gauged line essentially followed present day 431 from LaFayette to Opelika.
The LaFayette Rail Road operated profitably for 10 years during which period not one pound of freight was shipped to LaFayette over the Central of Georgia Line.
In 1905, after the Alabama Public Service Commission was instituted
with the power to control rates, operators of the LaFayette Railroad realized
there was no longer anything to gain by competing with the Central. So in 1905 the LaFayette Railroad was sold out for $100,000 to Central of Georgia, who closed the line. The sale was a substantial profit to the
During the LaFayette Railroad’s lifetime, LaFayette and its businesses grew and developed proportionally more than at any other time since. According to the Opelika News reports of that time LaFayette had nine dry goods stores, three drug stores, five groceries, one furniture, one hardware, one jewelry store, a hotel, four restaurants, five bar rooms, three churches, one college, ten lawyers, five physicians, a gunsmith, and three blacksmiths.