In 1845 the railroad helped give birth to Rutledge when it pushed through the community from Atlanta to Augusta. As the rails being laid ran directly through Hezekiah Rutledge's land, the trainmen began calling the area "Rutledge's Place" and then later just "Rutledge." The city became a stopover for many train travelers on the Atlanta-Augusta route. Traveling salesmen would stay overnight in the local hotel or boarding house. Taverns and shops quickly took advantage of the potential prosperity.
With more than two dozen thriving businesses today, Rutledge has evolved into an active artists' community. Still very modest in size and intimate in feel, Rutledge has stayed much the same as when the railroad first came to the community.