Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the shore of Lake Lanier, Gainesville is named for Edmund P. Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812.
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2023): 4,509
- Facility Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Parking Lot Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Platform Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Track Ownership: Norfolk Southern Railway
The red brick Gainesville depot was built by the Southern Railway (SR) in 1910. It replaced an earlier SR depot that was severely damaged by a tornado in 1903. Norfolk Southern, which owns the station, has made some improvements, with a new roof and electrical maintenance. Most of the building is used for railroad offices, with some space reserved for a passenger waiting area. There is also a Gainesville Midland Railroad depot, erected circa 1914, in town; it has been restored to serve as the Smithgall Arts Center.
Gainesville is located along Lake Lanier and in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Lanier is a flooded Appalachian valley, and was created in 1958 when the Army Corps of Engineers damned a portion of the Chattahoochee River for purposes of creating hydroelectricity and flood control.
Originally an Indian trail crossing, the town began as the second settlement in Hall County, Mule Camp Springs; Hall County was created in 1818 from Cherokee lands ceded by treaty. In 1821, the town was officially incorporated as Gainesville, in honor of Edmund Pendleton Gaines, a hero and general from Northern Virginia in the War of 1812. Gainesville is today the seat of Hall County.
Gainesville first prospered and grew due to a gold rush in nearby Lumpkin County in 1830. When the Atlanta and Charlotte Airline Railroad, later taken over by the Southern, came through Gainesville in May of 1871, the area also began to develop as a summer resort due to the quality of the local springs. The cotton milling industry, which first boomed in the Gainesville area in 1900, was nearly wiped out in 1936 due to a deadly tornado which struck Gainesville and neighboring towns. Poultry then became and continues to be a staple of the Gainesville economy.
Beside Lake Lanier and it many resorts and parks, as well as the outdoor attractions of the Chattahoochee River and environs, Gainesville is also near the Kangaroo Conservation Center, the largest kangaroo collection and preserve outside of Australia. This privately owned facility engages in both captive breeding and public education, and currently has 300 kangaroos of nine species, as well as other Australasian fowl, reptiles, and marsupials.
General James Longstreet, one of the foremost Confederate generals in the American Civil War—Lee’s “Old War Horse”—served in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia from Manassas to Appomattox and retired in 1875 to a farm near Gainesville, Georgia, where he served as postmaster for a time. He also ran the successful Piedmont Hotel in Gainesville, and farmed, raising turkeys and planting orchards and vineyards on terraced ground. Longstreet enjoyed a successful post-war career working for the U.S. Government as a diplomat, civil servant, and administrator.
Although Gainesville has four historical districts, the old Southern Railway depot, which lies just south of downtown, is not currently a historically designated structure. The station, however, is included in a 300-acre redevelopment area referred to as “mid-town Gainesville,” and it is expected that the industrial character of the surrounding area will be undergoing some change in the future.
Amtrak serves two communities named Gainesville; the second one is in Texas on the route of the Heartland Flyer.
- ATM not available
- No elevator
- No payphones
- No Quik-Trak kiosks
- No Restrooms
- Unaccompanied child travel not allowed
- No vending machines
- No WiFi
- Arrive at least minutes prior to departure
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- No bag storage
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- No payphones
- No accessible restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- No accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- No high platform
- No wheelchair
- No wheelchair lift