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Georgia Southwestern Railroad Rare Mileage Trips 2005 Sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum

by Chris Guenzler

Bart Jennings of the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum gave me a brochure for these trips on the Georgia Southwestern Railroad the first morning of the Trains Unlimited NRHS Express Trip to the 2005 NRHS Convention. I studied my maps but at first decided not to do it. After I went back to work at McFadden and the lost boxes we had put into storage that had not been returned, I decided I would need a trip soon. Remembering Bart's trip, I decided to use my Alaska Airline Miles to fly Orange County to Albany, Georgia flying First Class on Delta and Atlantic Southeast Airlines. A rental car was next to get and Hertz was at the Albany Airport. Finally, I sent off for the train tickets and got a room at the Best Western in Albany. Chris Parker then decided to join me and we would meet up in Atlanta on the way there.

A busy morning before leaving 11/18/2005

I needed to pick up the Trainweb digital camera after 8 AM and I wanted to get my 898,000 rail mile before I left for Georgia as I was just seven miles short. My plan was to take Surfliner 562 to San Juan Capristrano, 763 to Fullerton and 566 home. I went down to Santa Ana and learned 562 was running late as was 763 meaning no way I could get to San Juan. I bought a round trip Metrolink ticket from Tustin to Fullerton knowing I could make that trip. A headlight appeared at 7:12 AM and it was 562 so I boarded for a ride to Irvine picking up mile 898,000 near Sand Canyon Road. At Irvine, I crossed the bridge and a few minutes later Metrolink 607 took me to Fullerton. I walked over to the Trainweb and Train Party.Com Offices to pick up the camera and have a brief visit with Ray Burns. Metrolink 600 returned me to Santa Ana and I returned home. I updated the mileage on my web site and finished packing. I drove my mother to the airport and I was through security in less than four minutes. Since I had an hour and forty five minutes to kill, I listened to Yes "Talk" CD which took me most of the way to boarding the plane.

Delta 1677 11/18/2005

At 11:25 AM PST I boarded the B757 taking my First Class Seat 3D. We left the gate a few minutes late and with all the Santa Ana Winds blowing strong, we taxied to the south end and I took off north for my first time. The movie was Bad News Bears and the meal was chicken. Coca-Cola kept coming to me by my excellent flight attendants. We arrived at Gate B2 in Atlanta on time after a fantastic flight.

I deplaned at Atlanta Airport at Gate B2 and walked through the "B" Terminal to an escalator to take me to the connection to Terminal D. I boarded the Airport's underground-automated people mover, connecting all concourses with the terminal, consists of which nine, four car trains operating on a 3.5-mile loop track. The time between trains, at any of the 14 stations, is approximately two minutes. I made one roundtrip on this system returning to Terminal B walkway between all terminals. After sitting the whole trip here, I decided to walk between Terminal B and D. Arriving at Terminal D I visited Burger King for a hamburger and a Coca-Cola from a machine. My gate was D29 but it was changed to D31. Keith Richards "Main Offender" and Queen "Night at the Opera" killed most of my wait for my flight to Albany. Chris Parker arrived from Los Angeles with plenty of time to connect with me to Albany.

Atlantic Southeastern 4289 11/18/2005

At 9:50 PM EST they announced the boarding of the flight to Albany. After my boarding pass was scanned, I walked through the door, down the stairs to the waiting CPJ-200 Airplane. The flight would only take 28 minutes once we got into the air. We arrived into Albany, Georgia a few minutes early and I was first to the Hertz Rental Car counter receiving a Kia for use on this trip. I used Mapquest directions from the airport to the Albany Best Western where we checked in for our five night stay.

Once Chris and I got into our room we called it a night.

The Drive to Bumphead Road via Plains, Georgia. 11/19/2005

Chris and I got up at 6:00 AM EST and drove north out of Albany north towards Americus. We stopped in Leesburg at a gas station food mart for some snacks. From here we drove north along the Norfolk and Southern Macon to Albany Line for a short distance before we broke away. Just short of Americus, we crossed over the Heart of Georgia Railroad on which the Sam Shortline runs passenger train over out of Cordello. We came to the road which took us west to Plains, Georgia in search of the Plains train station and Brother Billy's Gas Station. About ten minutes later we arrived in Plains and quickly found the train station where former President Jimmy Carter ran his presidential campaign out of.

Three views of the former Seaboard Airline Station in Plains, Georgia.

The Seaboard Coast Line symbol on the station.

The Georgia Historical Marker to President Jimmy Carter.

Brother Billy's Carter Phillips 66 Gas Station.

Main Street Plains, Georgia. After a few pictures I stopped in a store for a few post cards before Chris and I drove out of Plains headed for Americus. We stopped at a Subway for some sandwiches to go before we drove north out of Americus to a railroad crossing on Bumphead Road where we found our train set.

Georgia Southwestern Railroad

Georgia Southwestern is a short line freight railroad operating in the southwest portion of Georgia and the eastern part of Alabama. The railroad operates over 282 miles of track providing service around the area. Primary commodities handled on the Georgia Southwestern Railroad include: agricultural products, chemicals and plastics, aggregates, and forest products. This list is not limited. Other commodities are shipped at the customer's request. We work closely with customers and connections to develop shipping rates and tariffs for additional commodities.

Georgia Southwestern City of Miami 11/19/2005

A map of the Georgia Southwestern Railroad.

A brief history of this line we are traveling today.

The track between Americus and Buena Vista was built by the Buena Vista & Ellaville Railroad organized in 1880 and completed in 1887. It was acquired by the Savannah & Western then controlled by the Central of Georgia Railroad in 1888 as {part of their through route linking Savannah and Columbus}. This connected with the central part of the route between Lyons and Americus which was owned by the Savannah, Americus and Montgomery Railway. West from Americus the S&W built into Columbus by first acquiring the BV&E and then built the rest of the track into Columbus. By the mid 1890s this route was a failure and in 1896 the Central of Georgia leased the line east of Lyons to the Seaboard Air Line which became part of their Savannah-Columbus-Montgomery Line. In 1907, E.H. Harriman gained control of the Central of Georgia {he already controlled the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and Illinois Central} then had the IC build a Jackson to Birmingham line. Using the Mobile and Ohio trackage rights that then gave Harriman a connection to the Central of Georgia and he took ownership of this railroad. IC introduced Chicago to Florida passenger trains to this route with names like the Seminole Limited, Floridian, Sunchaser and City of Miami. All these trains were turned over to the Atlantic Coast Line in Albany, Georgia. Harriman lost his railroad holdings and by 1932 during the depression, the Central of Georgia went into receivership. In 1948, the IC lost control of the railroad and in 1956 the Frisco tried to acquire it but the Interstate Commerce Commission denied it and the line was sold to the Southern Railroad. On June 17, 1963, the Central of Georgia became a subsidiary of the Southern and soon disappeared into the larger company. In the 1980s, the Southern and the Norfolk Western merged into the Norfolk Southern.

The recent history of our route today is that in August 1995 the GSW Division leased from Norfolk Southern the line between Ochille, GA and B.V. & E. Jct. (Americus, GA). This permitted the continued handling of traffic between Bainbridge, GA and Columbus, GA. The GSW also acquired trackage rights between Ochille and Columbus, and between B.V. & E. Jct, Smithville and Albany, GA.

Bart Jennings put this sign on the front of our train so people would know this is the train!

Bart and his sign.

Inside of VTR Coach 104 an ex Boston and Maine RDC.

Inside of VTR Coach 105 another ex Boston and Maine RDC rebuilt by Morrison Knudsen.

Inside of Georgia Southwestern Lounge 2003

Sarah Jennings who greets everyone aboard and works the lounge counter.

Passengers socializing before the start of today's trip.

The view looking north just as we started running east to the ownership limits at MP 61.5.

Rolling east through the forest.

This yellow signal is at MP 61.5 and protects the junction with the Norfolk Southern 0.07 mile east at BV&E JCT.

We reversed direction west and crossed Bumphead Road which we had parked our cars along. I wondered all day what locals thought when they saw all the cars parked along the road in the middle of nowhere.

The big Georgia sky.

Rolling west on a cool and windy late morning.

Running by a Pecan Grove.

Cabbage patch along our route.

Our train passed the Buena Vista siding. Leaving Buena Vista we made a big curve and climbed out of town up a short grade.

The train as it descended west down the hill.


We crossed Kinchafoonee Creek.

Chris Parker doing what he does best on a trip, video taping!

Central of Georgia milepost sign.

We crossed Ochille and Halloca Creeks before we reached the western ownership at MP 12.0. The yard limit sign is the ownership line.

The view forward at MP 12.0. Our train crew switched ends before we headed east.

For about three miles east of MP 12.0 the landscape is a series of lakes with beaver dens in them. We would do a Photo Runby at MP 15.2.

We unloaded at MP 15.2 and all headed down to the shore of the lake to get ready for the Photo Runby. Here is the forward move east so they could do the runby going west. I moved to a different location for the Photo Runby.

The Photo Line.

The Photo Runby at MP 15.2.

Our group reboarding tour train.

A quick opposite side picture of our train at MP 15.2. I reboarded and we were off. I borrowed Chris Parker's cell phone and called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show that airs live every Saturday morning 10-12 AM Pacific Time or 24/7 in the archives. Our train headed east as I socialized in the lounge car for most of the trip back.

At Ellaville, we all detrained for another photo opportunity with a collapsed cotton gin mill in the background of this picture.

Views of the train at Ellaville. After everyone got plenty of pictures, we all reboarded the train as we left Ellaville for Bumphead Road. Back onboard, I socialized with other passengers as we returned east. We returned to Bumphead Road where we all detrained.

The last views of our train at Bumphead Road. The crew told us all that they would make a run south for home rails at Smithville to take the train back to Sasser via Dawson. I knew Chris and I could follow and photograph it as long as we had light. We left Bumphead Road and headed back to the block signals back where the road to Albany met the railroad. We set up there and waited.

The Chase of our train set back to Sasser 11/19/2005

We caught the train for the first time about 6 miles north of Smithville. Here are the coming pictures.

Here is the going away picture.

The Smithville, Georgia Station.

The train passing the former Central of Georgia Smithville Station.

Our train coming into the Smithville Georgia Southwestern Yard.

It had to take the siding to let the Georgia Southwestern freight come through Smithville.

The Georgia Southwestern Freight train.

GSW GP-38 3802.

GSW GP-38 3801.

Ex Conrail B-23-7 2013.

EMD SD-40 6313

Running west of Smithville.

Rolling west of Bronwood. We ran ahead into Dawson and waited on the Sasser line for our last pictures of the day.

Chris and I said goodbye to our train here and headed back to the Best Western in Albany. We walked over to the Kentucky Fried Chicken and I brought mine back to the room. I watched the movie Volcano before we stayed up to watch the Fresno State/USC game. We only watched the first quarter but it was a nail biting game with Number 1 ranked USC just hanging for a close win. I found out in the morning that USC had won when I checked my e-mail.

The Georgia Southwestern Offices and Museum Tour 11/20/2005

On the trip yesterday, we got an invitation to visit the Georgia Southwestern Railroad Offices and Museum at 7:00 AM. Chris and I got up early, stopped for a Subway sandwich to go before we drove out to the train station on a dark and cool Georgia morning. We parked, put our stuff on the train then walked to the offices up on the small hill overlooking the railroad station.

The Georgia Southwestern Offices located on 78 Pulpwood Road Sasser, Georgia. I went inside for a tour of the offices and railroad museum they have.

The Reception Area.

The Reception Area with Bart Jennings and Georgia Southwestern Vice President David L. Smoot.

Display cases of all sort of railroad memorabilia.

Step boxes from different railroads.

A KATY Railroad sign in Georgia? But this one is included in their collection.

Views of the upstairs offices. With this our tour is over and I walked back to the grade crossing.

An ex Southern box car on display. Now I will walk back towards the train.

For Part 2 of this trip!