If you were to open a map of Georgia, a map that happens to be dated in the first half of the 20th century, you might notice something peculiar about the time zones. Of course, you could look it up online as well but where’s the fun in that?
Georgia was once split between the Eastern and Central time zones, a fact that is very different today. The moment you cross into Georgia now, depending on how fast your smartphone is, you’ll notice the hour jumps ahead +1 but that wasn’t always the case.
The fact that Georgia used to be split by two time zones was a matter of practicality in industrial America. Railroads made all of the difference and the construction of rail across the country changed so much when it comes to time.
Why Did Georgia Have Two Time Zones?
It all boiled down to rail schedules. For the first time in American history, Americans could travel long distances at speed. Prior to the decision on time zones, America was very much like every other nation in that it relied on local times for everything.
However, with railroads, that had to change due to the chaos created by various times in each town. Trains were very late or very early, depending on where they went. When it comes to delivering products, timeliness is essential and that was something you couldn’t have when every rail destination played its own game.
The result was drawing a Central Time Zone through the state of Georgia that encompassed the eastern ⅓ of the state. The remaining ⅔ of Georgia remained in the Eastern Time Zone.
When Did Georgia Get Rid of Two Time Zones?
Today, the entire state of Georgia is in the Eastern Time Zone. How the state got there was a discussion that took place over decades. After the state was split into two time zones in 1918, the discussion on whether Georgia should remain that way or switch to just the Eastern Time Zone raged on.
This argument lasted for nearly three decades and it wasn’t until March 21, 1941, that Georgia made the move to place the whole state in the Eastern Time Zone. Georgia’s governor at the time, Eugene Talmadge, signed the move into law.
Even once the law was signed, railroads had to continue with the two-time zone rule until the Interstate Commerce Division was able to adjust to accommodate the new Georgia law. This didn’t take place until June of the same year, so the confusion was minimal at best.
If you look up the date that Georgia changed to a single time zone, you’ll often see two—one in June and one in March—because the Interstate Commerce Division took a few more months to get on board with the new Georgia law.
All Things Considered
So, once upon a time, Georgia was subject to two time zones—Eastern and Central. Today, things are decidedly simpler with the entire state of Georgia falling under the Eastern Time Zone, which basically begins once you cross into Georgia from the eastern Alabama border.