A Brief History of 
Southern Railway’s 
Atlanta Office Building

View of Southern Railway’s Atlanta office complex looking south along Spring Street, SW . Photo was taken some time in the late 1950s or early 60s. Photo courtesy of O. Fenton Wells.

Railroad office buildings are not normally a subject covered so extensively as other aspects of railroading. I did not even think of them during my early years of rail-fanning, until I began my thirty year railroad career with Southern Railway in September, 1973.

The Southern Railway office complex was located on what was then Spring Street, SW in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The concrete buildings were quite impressive. The east side of the buildings faced Spring Street, while the west side faced the Atlanta to Macon main lines of the Southern and Central of Georgia railroads. The buildings housed various departments including information technology, operations, car accounting, engineering (maintenance of way and structures) to name a few. I worked in the Bridge Department for twenty-nine years which was a part of engineering.

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Richmond Division Recollections

Part Two
Piedmont Subdivision

Trevillian depot with the village post office in the waiting room.

Trevillian, Pendleton, Buckner, Doswell, Hanover, and Ellerson

Trevillian was a larger wooden depot with the town post office inside the former waiting rooms. I am uncertain what may have been stored in the freight room. Local lore was that the station building was used as a hospital during the civil war, but I am uncertain whether it was the one shown above or an earlier structure.

Pendleton was a closed agency with doors wide open. My understanding is that the agent at Mineral had spent a few hours there daily until the North Anna Power Station at Frederick Hall increased traffic, so that Pendleton became a non-agency station. I retrieved a tariff case from the depot which now resides at Boyce. Read more

The Evolution of ALTO Tower

ALTO tower in 2012 as a pair of NS helpers push past.

Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1915, ALTO (JK) tower, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, remained in service for the next ninety-seven years, closing in 2012. Over that time it worked under the auspices of four different railroads, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Penn Central, Conrail and Norfolk Southern and each railroad, in turn, brought something new to the table. It is easy to think of railroad history over the last century to be one of subtraction; infrastructure being removed as a transportation monopoly yielded to competition from air travel and highways. However, for at least its ninety-seven years in service, ALTO’s story was one of adaptation to the ever changing times.

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Wrecking Ball

East Broad Top Railroad yard – Mt. Union, Pennsylvania

I am with two of my best friends. We are riding through central Pennsylvania after a successful visit to the Alco haven of Scranton. Following the Norfolk-Southern, ex Pennsy main is always interesting and by the time we reach Mt. Union we are in good shape for images of big black horses pulling freight.

The object here is to peek into a lost world, frozen since 1956, caused by the shutdown of the East Broad Top Railroad. Mt. Union was the site of the EBT’s major yard and was their interchange point with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Most of the yard, a few structures, plus a load of old narrow-gauge hopper cars still exist here. They are intact (mostly), but the ravages of all these years are slowly dissolving them. Read more

Brookhaven Out

Brookhaven, Mississippi – 1977

Most of us remember graduating from a Train Watcher to a Railroad Enthusiast. Much like graduating from one school grade to the next, making that transition took education and a drive to learn. Sometimes, locations served as “schools,” helping us move forward. Frequently, those schools were filled with teachers in the form of friends or family who had an interest in railroads. However, there are times when railroad employees step into that teaching role. Such was the case with my “graduation” from Train Watcher to Railroad Enthusiast.

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Fallen Flags Still Flying (By) . . .

. . . But catch them while you can

Call it the impact of the homogenization of American railroading, but it’s been easy to get a little jaded or even bored standing at trackside lately. Another set of all-black & white NS “Thoroughbreds” or armour-yellow Union Pacific locomotives rolling by with a roar and maybe a friendly whistle blast from the engineer.

That describes a day last summer, when yet another otherwise nondescript freight train rolled by me at one of my favorite Columbus, Ohio viewing spots. And then, amid a string of grain hoppers with reporting marks I didn’t recognize, bland paint and no other markings, one car stood out and left me picking my jaw off the ground. Read more