Old 02-26-2007, 07:01 PM   #1
Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
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Default It's that time again...

Well, all, it's almost that time of year again, which is known as Spring Break! For me this has consisted of a road trip to Florida 17 out of 19 years of my existence including this year. Unfortunately my railfanning "obsession" didn't really kick into full gear until a few years ago.

I am constantly trying to find new, rather unexplored areas (i.e. shortlines) to visit on the way down and back from Florida.

This year a small portion of the trip is already finalized. Here is a little information to start you off with:

We (my family) will be leaving NJ on Thursday afternoon arriving in NC (about 10 miles south of Raleigh) sometime that night. The next morning, Friday, we will wake up and head to Fuquay-Varina to attempt for a THIRD time to catch the Fayetteville Turn to well, Fayetteville. From there we will jump onto I-95 and zip down to Georgia. Now here is where I need your help! I will be contacting some people off the forums about specific photos and how to get similar ones, etc., but I can still use general information or links to helpful websites.

Things I'm certain I want to check out include:
-Georgia Central (wherever they keep locomotives)
-Pickens Ry.
-CSX shops & yard @ Waycross, GA

Feel free to chime in about other points of interest that are relatively close to I-75 (from FL up to Atlanta), I-85 (from Atlanta up to I-95), and I-95 (from Fayetteville, NC south to GA-FL border).

Thank you very much in advance!!!
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:54 PM   #2
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Well, me and my buddies already have our plans for Tehachipi Pass. Looking forward to those 4 days. Last year we went 3 days over Needles Sub, this year we wanted to venture further. Its gonna be sweet!
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Old 03-02-2007, 01:19 AM   #3
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Had to get this thread back on top. Anyone have any suggestions, links, etc.?
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Old 03-02-2007, 02:40 AM   #4
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I dont know anything about Florida, but you should try and make it out here to Washington State some time for a little change of pace
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Old 03-02-2007, 03:10 AM   #5
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Andrew,
I can help you out with some of your trip up I-75. Most of the places I mention are represented well here on RP.

- The Georgia Central keeps locomotives at their yard in downtown Macon, usually three or four u-boats. There is also a CofG 2-8-0 on display at a park near the yard. Have never caught a GC train arriving or departing, though. The power always seems to be facing south so I suggest shooting any time of the day except around noon. I can provide you with directions to the yard.

- Cordele, just south of Macon, is definately worth spending time in. You have both CSX and NS (both rather busy lines), as well as the Heart of Georgia (HOG) which runs freights as well as excursions on a very regular basis. The railroads and roads all run together in a grid pattern and it's easy to get around.

- Just southwest of Macon and fairly close to the Interstate is Fort Valley. There's tons of NS action and the Georgia Midland Railroad, which keeps a former C&O GP30 at the depot there. It will be best to shoot in mid-morning. Again, I can provide directions to the depot.

- The Sandersville Railroad is east of Macon. It would take a bit of time getting back to the Interstate from there but you might just want to keep it in mind as a rather large industrial operation. I've never been there but it's on my to-do list.

Let me know if you end up coming through Cordele, cuz us 'bama boys have been planning a trip over there ourselves.

-John
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Old 03-02-2007, 03:02 PM   #6
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Hey John, I'll be spending a few days soon in Atlanta. Last time I went off for a morning visit to Austell. What do you think of Macon as an alternative? Obviously a longer drive (a consideration when a 4-year-old is part of the plan), but maybe worth-while. This would be a morning outing, leaving Atlanta 8:30 or 9-ish and returning in time for 2pm nap. Preferably, a bit shorter.

One important criterion is a grassy area or similar where we can hang out and play between trains. Austell is a bit weak on that, the best area is small and is on the north side of the tracks, so shots are backlit. Nearby playground a major plus. Train frequency a big plus, I'm afraid Tad has been spoiled by the regular train frequencies on the CSX Met sub in Maryland.

thanks

J
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Old 03-03-2007, 04:17 AM   #7
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Well, I'm sure locals know way more about Macon than I, but I'll offer my observations. Macon might be a good alternative, as there is a place called Central City Park immediately adjacent to the Georgia Central Yard (and is actually the park the 2-8-0 is displayed at). You can view NS traffic near the park; the tracks are elevated over city streets, which could present some interesting and different photo angles (I've usually been concerned with shooting the GC engines while there and have never done much on NS, so haven't really investigated the possibilities). Of course you'll have to put up with power lines and poles in the way, though street traffic tends to be light in that area. Again, you might want to try to talk to someone more familiar with the area, as I always have just been passing through.
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Old 03-03-2007, 12:30 PM   #8
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Thanks, John.
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Old 03-03-2007, 01:04 PM   #9
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Andrew,

Off of I-95 in South Carolina, you will pass over the South Carolina Central in Florence, SC. If you guys need a break from the endless, nameless stretches of interstate, this might be a good time to see a neat little, if very busy, shortline. They still have GP10s in a classy original scheme as well as GP40s from the Canadian National, Grand Trunk and Boston & Maine in their old paint schemes. This is a RailAmerica line that has not one RailAmerica-painted engine.

In fact, if you guys wanted to spend a little extra time in South Carolina, leave Raleight via Hwy. 1 south. You'll come through Sanford with the Atlantic & Western, Aberdeen, where I see you've already been with the A&R and ACWR, and Hamlet before veering off to the Pee Dee River and South Carolina Central. But the first choice may be wiser for time concerns. Just get off on 95 in Florence and venture as far west a you want to.

Now I guess you're coming out of Atlanta back home via 85? There's two places for the Pickens. The first is their busiest area of operations out of Anderson. A great guy to ask off list about this would be Eric Daly. Look him up on RP; he has many fine pictures of this operation. I can get around the area, but I couldn't help too much with road names. They run in the morning and hit downtown Anderson sometime around 11 a.m. or so then go back toward the industrial area on the end of the line. If you hit Pickens, try to catch a train in the Belton and Honeath Path area which I've done once. This is shortline railroading allright. Just look at the track.

If inded you are coming up 85, get off at the Lavonia exit still in Georgia and follow the road signs to Lavonia. You'll be on the Hartwell branch of the Great Walton Railroad which I've caught once. They use Rio Grande, Chicago & Northwestern, Conrail and Richmond, Fredrickson and Potomac, all in those paint schemes.

I caught the Georgia Central tied down for the weekend on my first rtip to Savanah several weeks ago. Savanah is a real cool placeand we are going back on my birthday. Lots of lines and different paint schemes around. But it's a stretch already from what you seem to have planned.

Are you going to try to catch the FEC SD70ACes?


Joe
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Old 03-04-2007, 01:40 AM   #10
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Thanks, John & Joe! I knew I could count on you guys for a little extra info.

Joe,

To answer your questions:

- Yes, we will be coming back via I-75 to I-85.

- No, I think I'll tie in the FEC next year if I go by myself or w/out my parents.

Trip down...

Thursday - Drive from NJ to NC.
Friday - Attempt (for a 3rd time) to catch the Fayetteville Turn south out of Varina, NC. If nothing prevails by 11AM split south on I-95.

To get sidetracked for sec. if I may, I have always been interested in railfanning around Florence because that is basically the halfway point between NJ and FL so that is where we stayed overnight until my Aunt moved to NC a few years ago. The choice I have to make is whether to check out the SCCR or teh GC in Savannah, I cannot do both. I'll look into this a bit more...

Friday con't - Stop in Florence, SC or Savannah, GA. Veer off of the very boring I-95 just south to follow the CSX line through Jesup, GA and onto Waycross, GA where we will stay. Anyone know of a good place to stay?
Saturday - Follow/railfan the CSX from Waycross to Folkston and into Florida until Ocala where we catch I-75.

I've heard many reports of old GE's such as B23's and C30's in the Florida yards but I'm afraid to explore and come up empty-handed with my parents. I would be thrilled to get confirmation of one or a few lingering down there.

Return trip...

Friday - Leave FL fairly early and get to Macon, GA sometime in the early afternoon to check out the GC. Continue driving up to around the GA-SC border hopefully avoiding Atlanta rush-hour.
Saturday - I would like to check out the Hartwell/Great Walton again (I did that in 2005) since their roster is basically a museum. After this I was definitely going to check out the Pickens as I want to catch as many U-boats this year as possible if it comes down to the Hartwell or Pickens, I'm goin' with the Pick'. After this its highball to NC to pickup my grandma and finally arrive at home at night.

Thanks for all the help so far! I'm still looking for shortline schedules.
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Old 03-04-2007, 03:21 AM   #11
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Andrew;

Just to note, the NS SD9's are gone from Varina.


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Old 03-04-2007, 04:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe the Photog
Andrew;

Just to note, the NS SD9's are gone from Varina.


Joe
Hahaha. Wow, I'm suprised you remember that, but actually I'm just in love with the line for some reason. It's not terribly scenic but it sure as hell beats NJ! I just wanna catch a damn train on it. Plus the two times I've seen power in Varina, they've been HH Geeps which is good enough. Thanks, Joe!
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