The GS&F was chartered in 1885 to build a railroad from Macon, Ga. to Palatka, Fla., over a distance of 285 miles. The line was opened between Macon and Valdosta in February 1889 and completed to Palatka in March of the following year.
The railroad quickly encountered financial trouble, entering receivership in 1891; President W.B. Sparks of Macon was appointed receiver. In 1895 it was reorganized as the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway under the control of the Southern Railway.
In the 1894 edition of The Official Railway List, the GS&F reported operating 382 miles with 34 locomotives, 25 passenger cars, and 1,445 freight and miscellaneous cars.
In 1902 the GS&F bought the property of the Atlantic, Valdosta & Western Railway between Valdosta and Jacksonville. It also owned the Macon & Birmingham Railroad and the Hawkinsville & Florida Southern Railway.
In 1917 the railroad reported owning 392 miles of line consisting of 285 miles from Macon to Palatka and 107 miles from Valdosta to Grand Crossing, near Jacksonville.
The line’s nickname was the Suwanee River Route. It crossed the stream, made famous by an 1850s Stephen Foster song, at White Springs, FL. A second Suwanee crossing, at Fargo, GA, came with the acquisition of the Atlantic, Valdosta & Western.
Today the GS&F remains officially in existence as a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern. It no longer extends to Palatka, ending at Lake City instead. The NS main line is now the former Atlantic, Valdosta and Western to Jacksonville.