Ledger Inquirer

Decrepit bus in the woods could be from the old Howard Bus Lines

This dilapidated old bus in the woods off of Veterans Parkway may be from the old Howard Bus Lines that served Fort Benning.
This dilapidated old bus in the woods off of Veterans Parkway may be from the old Howard Bus Lines that served Fort Benning. mowen@ledger-enquirer.com

My Concerned Friend Jim has been after me to look into the old bus that was uncovered from the underbrush when the right of way was cleared to widen Veterans Parkway north of Moon Road.

Not far up the road from the Goo-Goo Car Wash on the east side, the old bus is tucked into the woods and has obviously seen better days. I mentioned it in last week’s column and put in a picture of the old relic. Several readers responded.

One named Michael writes:

“That bus looks very much like one of the old Howard Bus Lines that used to shuttle soldiers back and forth from Fort Benning to Columbus and back in the ’50s and ’60s.

“When I was a boy, 1953/54, we lived in Baker Village, then pretty much dominated by military housing, and their depot/headquarters was just across the road on either Fort Benning Road or Fort Benning Drive (I can't remember which).

“The colors were green and either silver or grey. That bus looks just like one of them.”

The top half of the old bus could once have been silver or gray, but the bottom exterior panels are no longer there, whatever color they once were. At least that’s the case on the side facing Veterans Parkway. Otherwise, the color motif is mostly rust.

According to the Internet, the Howard Bus Line started hauling folks back and forth to Fort Benning in the early 1920s, about the same time Camp Benning was made a permanent post and renamed Fort Benning.

The private company did great business in the ’30s through the ’50s, but started faltering in the ’60s when costs were rising and everyone having a car, or two, started becoming the norm. It managed to stay in business until 1978, when it shut its doors.

So we did what we do when something is no longer profitable, but still necessary, or maybe just desirable. We turn it over to the government. Hence, the birth of Metra, the city’s mass transit company, in 1978.

Several other people said it looked to be of a vintage to match the Howard Bus Line’s era. One said he thought a local family who used to live out there long before the area was developed bought the bus to use for storage, but storage of what he could not speculate. Many of the seats appear to still be in the thing, which would cut down on space.

Finally, I got a call from Earl Davis, a former state legislator from these parts who now runs a scrap metal business with his son. He said he’s been driving past the old bus for some time and considers it an eyesore that “needs to be gone.”

Davis said he would be glad to haul the thing away to his scrap yard for free, in spite of what he says is a terrible market for scrap metal these days.

It’s hard to tell if the bus is still on private property or on state right of way purchased for the widening project. But I’m sure the Georgia Department of Transportation knows. I’ll ask them and give them Davis’ phone number.

So, Concerned Reader Jim, it’s speculation, but the educated guesses here add up to it being from the old Howard Bus Lines fleet, purchased after its useful days were over to use for storage, but we know not of what.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.