Friday, December 28, 2007

"Everybody Loves the Sound of a Train"

One of my old hobbies, when I lived in Canton was trainspotting. My hometown is served by a shortline railroad constructed in the 1870s. The line, which went through many different owners over the years, is now run as the Georgia Northeastern Railroad (GNRR). The line, originally intended to run from Atlanta to Knoxville eventually came to serve the mountain and foothill communities along what is now Georgia 5.

The GNRR used to run only one train a day on weekdays, and I could easily drive the route ahead of the train, which navigates many sharp curves and has a top speed of about 25 mph. So catching the train at a crossing was always a fun pastime.

The train comes into view. The old Canton
depot stood across the tracks, in the center
of the photo, until it burned in 1971.

I haven't been railfanning the GNRR in a while, but when I was shopping with my mother on the 26th, I managed to catch sight of the train as we turned onto Highway 5. We headed over to meet the train at the Marietta Street crossing just south of Downtown Canton. I decided to play with the video function of my camera, and I was rewarded with what I think is a pretty good first try.

Here a short freight led by GNRR 2000 blows for the Marietta Street Crossing in Canton, Georgia.

I don't know why I am so drawn to trains, but I have a feeling that those roots are intertwined with this railroad. Overall, this was a wonderful reminder of days gone by and a great surprise.

Crossing Marietta Street

Incidentally, this line is part of a proposed commuter rail network for Atlanta. The GNRR is receptive, but in order for trains to reach Atlanta, they must travel over CSXT trackage between Elizabeth (Marietta) and Downtown Atlanta. The mayor of Canton, Cecil Pruitt, has long championed commuter rail, but the state legislature has continued to serve as a barrier to smart transportation not only in this corridor but throughout metro Atlanta.

Perhaps one day I'll be able to photograph restored passenger service on the line too.

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