View Full Version : Georgia Shortline Railfan Trip

Joe the Photog
03-28-2005, 12:35 AM
We had planned to leave on Monday since most of the railroads I wanted to shoot would not run on the weekends. However, the weather was horrid both in Lancaster and in Georgia, so we pushed the leave time to Tuesday and then to Wednesday.

Before getting started, here's the link to the main page. Right click so you can switch between here and there.


We got off the main road looking for Pickens Railroad tracks in Honea Path and decided that since the skies were still grey, we'd forgo that part of the trip and head on south. Then, I caught a road sign pointing me toward Belton where I know the Pickens does have rails, so we took a diversion. Because of that, we ran across this old house basically in someone's front yard. The first shot was taken with the wide angle. The second shot is a straight on angle with a more traditional lens to show the lean of the house. And, yeah, that's a drive way directly beside the house so that when it does fall, it will fall directly on it.

After leaving the leaning house of Belton, we went into town in search of Pickens Railroad tracks. Now we neglected to take a map on this trip. In fact, I planned it out all on MS Streets & Trips. Which, unfortunately, would come back to haunt us later.

So we're sitting at a stop sign trying to decide which way the tracks would be when suddenly we heard a somewhat distant train whistle. I turned toward the left and in a few minutes after a few more turns, we caught up with this train.


Now note the track directly in front of the locomotive. Dot so good. Now look at the track directly under each wheel of the train. This track is owned by Norfolk Southern Railway, but leased to and operated by the Pickens. Somewhere along the way, track maintenance has been deferred.

Here are a few additional shots of the PICK from Belton and Anderson.


Then off to Anderson where we caught another PICK train downtown.


The shot of the Pickens on the Sig Dig page was taken from the about to be mentioned Hwy. 29. It was a hard shot to meter. The camera was metering the sky, which is both clear and cloudy. I was trying to meter against the bridge. I didn't really do as well as I hoped, but I like the angle.

After leaving Anderson, we hopped onto Hwy. 29 into Georgia. I had thought that we'd have time to stop at Lake Hartwell, let the kids play for a few minutes, have a picnic and then ease on down the road. But the early morning rain, some slow drivers and a few "diversions due to no map had caused us to lose time.

Between Anderson and Lake Hartwell, Sherry caught a glimpse of what must have been an old highway bridge. As you can see, the creek is muddy and probably a foot or two above normal levels after the rain in the area.

We passed over the bridge into Georgia directly beside the immense Hartwell Dam. Now this is odd. On Hwy. 200 between Lancaster and Chester counties, there is ample room to park on the bridge and scout out the dam on the Catawba River Bridge. But on this road between the states of Lower Carolina and Georgia, no room to pull off. Here we made an unwise decision. Even though the sun was near perfect on the dam, we decided to keep heading south thinking we could shoot the dam on our way back up.

Into Hartwell and onto Bowersville. By now the day had morphed into a near perfect early Spring day. In Bowersville where the Hartwell Railroad connects with it's corporate sister, the Great Walton, we caught this ancient mammoth engine.


After this, we passed through Lavonia where we hoped to catch more engines from the Great Walton. This was not to be, however, so we skipped onto I-85 and down to Marietta where we walked around downtown a bit. Included on the Signature Digitale page are two shots of the Marietta Museum of History, one really small steam locomotive on display and an old railroad depot now serving as the Marietta Welcome Center. Then, we found a hotel room for the night.

After a continental breakfast -- not a deluxe one, mind you -- we caught this Georgia Northeastern train in Marietta. This locomotive is somewhat rare. The GP20 model never really caught on.


After battling traffic both the previous afternoon and this morning, we decided to head down I-75 toward Monroe and then to Macon. We actually had debated whether to chuck these plans and go on down 85 toward Columbus where there is an interesting railroad also on my list. But we knew that if we did that, we'd eventually turn back around and head back to Atlanta and Atlanta traffic.

So onto 75.

By this time, we had picked up a Georgia map and Sherry was referring to it while I drove. This m,ap was actually good and even had the railroads listed. Not all maps do. Best thing about it was that it was free from the Marietta Welcome Center. Combined with the print out from MS Streets & Trips, there was no way we could go wrong.


Wrong. We got lost and it didn't take long to figure out why. There are two Monroes in the great state of Georgia and they're not really that close to each other. Example. One Monroe was north of I-20. The Monroe we found ourselves in was south of 75. So we had to strike out two railroads if we were going to go to Macon and then onto Savannah.

So, off to Macon where we ran across these thee engines sitting in the old Seaboard yard. These are somewhatrare in 2005, ex-Southern Railway high hoods. Note the peach for the "O."


Nothing else was doing in Macon and by now, I was starting to rethink the whole thing about going to Savannah based solely on the distance between there and back home. Oh, and the fact that I really wanted to see one of the two railroads we missed by the miscalculation.

So while Sherry and the kids were dozing, I looked at the map and realized that maybe Monroe, Ga. wasn't that far away and went back the way we came. That particular railroad goes between Monroe and Social Circle, Ga. and by the time we got there, the railroad had shut down for the day. But I was able to shoot this from a public road. Two things of note about this shot. The 6555 is ex-South Carolina Central which runs between Hartsville, Florence and Darlington. This loco, however, was long gone by the time I made it to the South Carolina Central. Also, if you look at the old Chessie System unit, the numbers on the right side of the nose (left side of the picture) are backwards. The loco is number 6400, but the numberboards reads 0064. The left side numberboard reads right.


By now you may have noticed that all shots are of railroads. I honestly did want to take more non-rail stuff, but as I like to say, so little time, so many railroads.

We made it to Athens, got a room near UGA, ate at a place called the Varsity and turned in early.

Went back to Monroe and Social Circle on Friday hoping to catch the Great Walton. But both engines stood in the same place so we headed south to Covington which is also a Great Walton line. We caught their power twenty miles away in Newborn in the worst possible place to shoot it. Thus, there are no pictures of it.

When we passed through Social Circle again, the engines were still in the same place and were obviously not going to be used that day. So we made haste heading back toward Lavonia using back roads. Finally, I had some luck that day as there was a train sitting crewless in town.


These are all old paint schemes, esp. evident in the loco nearet us. The second unit is ex-Richmond, Fredrickson and Potomac, a railroad that hasn't existed for about twenty years.

After leaving Lavonia, we passed back through Hartwell where we realized we had made a mistake in not stopping to shoot the dam two days prior. By now it was backlit like crazy. We did, however, get out and walk to the dam and on the dam as much as we could and took these two shots to finish out the three day marathon of driving back and forth across Georgia.

And now, tomorrow it's back to work I go. I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I did sharing it with you guys!


***Note that this post originally went to a non-rail, non-photography site. Thus, the explanations of some of the rail stuff here.