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About the Museum

The Southeastern Railway Museum occupies a 35-acre site in Duluth, Georgia, in northeast suburban Atlanta. In operation since 1970, SRM features about 90 items of rolling stock including historic Pullman cars and classic steam locomotives. Museum hours vary seasonaly, for more information please see schedule.

cabooseRide in restored cabooses behind restored antique diesel locomotives, stand next to the massive driving wheels of the locomotive that once pulled passenger trains to Key West on the "railroad that went to sea," tour the business car that helped bring the Olympics to Atlanta, pose on the platform of the private car once used by President Warren G. Harding, and see just how green Southern Railway green can be as you walk the length of the diesel-electric locomotive that ran the point on the last Crescent before AMTRAK assumed control of the famous train.

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Articles

An Obscure Railroad Hub
by Paul Grether

 

SRM has acquired a trackless trolley that once ran in the city of Atlanta. Donated by Stephen Siniard of Cartecay, Georgia, Georgia Power #1296 was moved to the museum in late February, 1998 by the Army Reserve. The vehicle, built by Pullman-Standard in 1947, remained in service until 1963 when the transit system was converted to diesel busses.

Prior to the move, museum volunteers inspected the vehicle and prepared it for the trip to Duluth, procurred a set of old tires once used on a MARTA bus, and transported railroad ties to Cartecay for use as fill in a temporary road the Siniard family built so that the trackless trolley could be towed off the property.

CWO4 James Terry, commanding officer of the 587th Service Company out of Ft. Gillem, said that moves of this kind are valuable to his unit because they supplement classroom training with field training.

"Moving the trackless trolley," he said, "was very useful because it was large, heavy, had no brakes, and we encountered difficult terrain while extricating it. This simulates a damaged army vehicle which it would be our job to bring home."

In the late 1930s, Atlanta's streetcar system was, like many others across the country, running in the red. The Georgia Railway & Power Company, predecessor to the Georgia Power Company, was looking for a way to modernize its streetcar system to attract riders.

While some systems in the country were replacing their old streetcars with more modern streetcars or with diesel and gas busses, Georgia Power had a rather unique solution to modernization.

On June 27th, 1937 the first so-called trackless trolleys hit the streets of Atlanta on route #20 from downtown to College Park, Hapeville, and East Point. The increased flexibility of the trackless trolleys to maneuver in traffic and provide curbside loading made them a huge success and prompted plans to convert the majority of the system. On August 24th, 1940 the line through Buckhead to Oglethorpe was converted to Trolley Coach with much fanfare.

Georgia Power planned more conversions but World War II and tire rationing put a temporary stop to that. After the war, Pullman's newly modernized Osgood-Bradley facility in Worcester, Massachusetts switched from military to civilian production, building 1,128 trolley coaches between 1946 and 1952. With the backlog of orders being filled, a massive conversion to trackless trolleys began changing the streets of Atlanta forever. On April 10th, 1949, the last streetcars made their final runs on route #19 to the Chattahoochee River.

The trackless trolley is an electric vehicle, a development of streetcar technology. It has the same electric propulsion systems as a streetcar and thus it also draws its electricity from overhead wires. The difference is that is has rubber tires and therefore needs a second overhead wire, used as a ground. A streetcar uses its steel wheel/steel rail connection as its electrical ground.

A trackless trolley requires no investment in rails, a substantial infrastructure cost savings over streetcars. And, it can also use the existing overhead wires already in place for streetcars. These factors caused Georgia Power to choose for the trackless trolley in 1937 as the replacement for streetcars.

Georgia Power and its successors had operated the transit system since 1902. The power business was a subsidiary of the transit systems that ran in many Georgia cities including Columbus, Marietta, Augusta, Macon, Savannah, and Athens. After a divestiture ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the system was purchased by the newly formed Atlanta Transit Company in 1950. Atlanta Transit was subsequently purchased in 1972 by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. (MARTA).

Georgia Power #1296 will be cosmetically restored and displayed as part of an Atlanta-oriented transportation exhibit.

Atlanta: Destiny, Destruction, and Determination
by Lesa Campbell

 

The story of Atlanta's first fifty years would be labeled "far fetched" by Southerners. From open frontier to commercial center to smoldering rubble to unparalleled resurgence: the plot outline sounds like a trailer for a 1930s B movie.

In 1826, when a survey was undertaken to determine whether a canal or railroad could be constructed to link the interior of Georgia with the Tennessee River, Lawrenceville and Decatur were little more than frontier outposts. A rail route connecting the coast through upland Georgia to Ross' Landing (near present-day Chattanooga) would provide greater access to developing northern markets.

First Altanta City SealGeorgia chartered three railroads in 1833: Central Railroad & Canal Co. (later Central of Georgia) to build northwest from Savannah, Georgia Railroad Co. to build westward from Augusta, and Monroe Railroad (later Macon & Western) to build northward from Macon.

The start of what would become the Western & Atlantic came late in 1836 when a Macon railroad convention recommended implementation of the 1826 survey results. The exact site of the terminus was selected during the summer of 1840 by engineers of W&A, Georgia Railroad, and Macon & Western. Construction of the state-financed W&A began in 1838, but by December, 1842, only the first 22 miles--to Marietta--were complete.

Meanwhile, in 1843, a new name was selected for the fledgling town known as Terminus: Marthasville, for the daughter of ex- governor Wilson Lumpkin, one of the 1826 surveyors.

In 1845, the Georgia railroad provided the first "train" to arrive in town--an engine from Decatur. The next day a passenger train made the 12-hour journey from Augusta. Georgia Railroad's Chief Engineer J.E. Thomson is credited with suggesting that the city be called "Atlanta," the feminine form of Atlantic; the name became official during 1845. The Macon & Western reached Atlanta in 1846. Construction began on the Atlanta & LaGrange (later the Atlanta & West Point) in 1849 and was completed in 1854.

By the time Atlanta was incorporated in 1847, the population had increased to 2,500, and the commercial establishments included two hotels, more than 50 stores, and a newspaper. The rail influence was strong: city limits were defined as a circle within a one-mile radius of the State Depot.

Mile posts were placed in 1850, and the city limits were redefined as a 1.5 mile circle from mile post zero. In 1854, the State Depot was replaced by a brick structure called "the car shed."

Construction of a 1447-foot tunnel through Chetoogeta Mountain near Dalton opened an efficient route northward into Tennessee, and the W&A stood complete in 1851, sealing Atlanta's fate 13 years into the future.

By 1860 the city's population had increased to 7,700. From the outset of the Civil War Atlanta was transformed into an arsenal; the W&A forges, under state control, began to manufacture gun barrels.

The strategic importance of the W&A first came to public attention early in 1862, when Federal soldier J.J. Andrews and 22 others raided deep into Confederate territory to wreck the rail. The raiders boarded The General just north of Marietta; its conductor, engineer, and the shop foreman gave chase in a handcar, a succession of engines, and on foot before commandeering the Texas to complete the pursuit. The General ran out of wood and water north of Ringgold; the raiders fled on foot. Andrews and seven of the captured raiders were eventually hanged.

By fall, 1863, Atlanta was ringed by 10 miles of entrenchments. Previous Federal operations in the West had used rivers for supply and communication; the emphasis now shifted to rail. Sherman himself wrote of the W&A: "The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 would have been impossible without this road, that all of our battles were fought for its possession..."

Confederate forces withdrew within the entrenchments in July; heavy Federal shelling abruptly stopped August 26 when Sherman moved against the two railroads still open: the A&WP and the Macon & Western.

The Confederate army began evacuation of the city September 1, in the process destroying seven locomotives and 81 cars of ammunition near Oakland Cemetery. When Mayor James Calhoun officially surrendered the city September 2, Atlanta became headquarters for the Federal army. In November, all the railroad buildings, rolling stock, foundries, rolling mills, and arsenals were destroyed. Just before the start of the March to the Sea, within sight of Stone Mountain, rails of the Georgia Railroad were torn up, heated, and twisted into the infamous "Sherman's neckties."

Atlanta's rapid recovery is the stuff of legends: the first train ran back into Atlanta over the joint A&WP and Macon & Western line from East Point a full month before Lee's surrender. The local newspaper predicted: "Soon the other railroads will form their connection with our city and then, from her ashes, Phoenix-like, Atlanta will rise to resume her former importance in Georgia and the South..." The A&WP was in service two days later; Georgia Railroad and Macon & Western within 50 days; W&A within three months. A fifth railroad, to Charlotte, was under construction by 1869; by 1870 the population boomed to 21,000 and the city limits expanded to a three-mile circle around mile post zero. Commerce flourished with the return of the railroads as it had when they first arrived. Atlanta stood again resurgent.

Magic Carpets Made of Steel

by Malcolm Campbell

On a typical January day in 1914, the Atlanta, Birmingham & Coast, Atlanta & West Point, Central of Georgia, Georgia Railroad, Louisville & Nashville, Seaboard Air Line, Southern, and Western & Atlantic moved 152 passenger and 459 freight trains to and from Atlanta from meaningful points of the compass. Daily passenger service included 228 sleepers; January freight totaled 148,000 cars. These were days of growth. Between 1900 and 1920, Atlanta's population soared from 90,000 to 200,000. The city pushed outward from its center and began flexing its muscles as a transportation hub and as a destination for the providers of commerce and culture.

Union Station, the "great iron shed," had been built in 1871 between Central Avenue and Pryor Street. Terminal Station was built on Spring Street in 1905. The street car lines, which gave up their mule-powered "hayburner" engines for the electric motor in 1894, were, by the turn of the century, providing efficient city center and interurban service.

Soon after the automobile came to town in 1901, Pierce-Arrows and Hudsons and Maxwells were wreaking havoc on Pryor and Peachtree. A Ford Motor plant--since moved to Hapeville--assembled Model Ts on Ponce de Leon. The automobile would change the face of Atlanta forever, beginning with early appeals to bridge the dangerous tracks and intersections of railroad gulch near Union Station. The buildings and streets below bridges and viaducts were the nucleus of today's Underground Atlanta.

Marching down the century--from the 1904 formation of the Atlanta Freight Bureau to equalize rates, to the 300-acre downtown fire in 1917, to the 1930 inauguration of Eastern Air Transport Service's 8.5-hour flights to New York, to the 1939 premier of Gone With the Wind, to the 1970's restoration of the Fox Theatre--arrogant and aggressive Atlanta grew by great vision and great myopia, and the expanding railroads grew with it, around it, and through it. Then, as now, freight was king and it raised up the city's infrastructure and fueled the industry of the region.

Southern, which grew out of the Richmond & Danville in 1894, championed fast freights, the Comet from East St. Louis, the Southern Flash from Alexandria, the Eastern Rocket from New Orleans. Serving the textile mills were the Spinning Wheel and the Cottoncade.

The A&WP ran to West Point to connect with the Western Railway of Alabama. GARR served Athens and Augusta. L&N out of Tilford had routes to Knoxville and Chattanooga, and the Hook & Eye to Etowah, TN. From Howell, Seaboard served Manchester, Birmingham, and Monroe. Southern, which operated the CofG after 1963, served Macon, Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Greenville.

Giving a green light to innovations, Southern was first to mechanize track maintenance, build an electronic classification yard in the south, convert to diesel, operate coal unit trains, and offer computerized billing. The 100-ton capacity Big John covered-hoppers reduced freight rates for grain. By 1970, Southern hauled 40 billion ton-miles of freight annually. Southern Serves the South was more than a slogan: it was an unassailable fact.

If freight was king of the railroads, passenger service was its gleaming crown. It would tarnish in time before it was cast off altogether; but while that crown remained, announcements of new trains and new train sets, postings of faster schedules, descriptions of amenities in coaches and diners, and colorful photographs of exotic destinations in advertisements splashed through Life and National Geographic were presented to the public with a pomp and pageantry befitting royalty.

When Seaboard announced its new Silver Comet in 1947, actress Jean Parker christened the train. Flagship of the east-west route from NYC to Birmingham, the Silver Comet featured lightweight equipment including the unique ACF 6DbrBLng cars Kennesaw Mountain, Red Mountain and Stone Mountain.

Slogans filled the trains and followed the passengers home after the trip: The Most Interesting Transcontinental Route through the Deep South and Romantic Southwest. Serving with Dependable Trains Between the North, West and Florida. Gateways to Safe and Pleasant Journeys. 125 Years Old and Still Growing. Better Trains Follow Better Locomotives. The Route of Courteous Service. The Route of the Silver Fleet. Thanks for Using Coast Line.

Terminal Station, focus of NYC to New Orleans traffic, served the Central of Georgia, Atlanta & West Point, Seaboard, and Southern. Union Station, the stopover point for most of the midwestern trains, served the Atlantic Coast Line, Louisville & Nashville, Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis, and the Georgia Railroad. Brookwood Station began serving Southern's suburban customers in 1918.

Years ago, the Fast Mail was Southern's best known Atlanta train. The fame stemmed from a song, "The Wreck of Old 97," about a disastrous 1903 accident in Virginia. But through service and longevity, the Crescent Limited eventually became Georgia's sentimental champion. Originally called the Washington and Southwestern Limited, it became the Crescent Limited in 1926 and the Crescent in 1939. Behind a powerful Ps-4 Pacific, the sleepers in forest green and gold livery on this all-Pullman train were a magnificent vision.

Southern stubbornly kept the Crescent out of AMTRAK until February 1, 1979. TRAINS called out to its readers to circle that day on the calendar in black while local media speculated about the route's ultimate closure.

But it was in the 1980s that Atlanta's last private passenger service ended with far less fanfare. This was the Georgia Railroad (CSXT) mixed train to Augusta. A provision in its charter required the railroad to maintain the service to keep its tax exempt status.

Except for MARTA, rail has retreated from the consciousness of most Atlantans. The trolley tracks were torn out in 1949. Union Station is gone. Though you can see a few butterfly sheds, Terminal Station is gone. These were by no means Atlanta's only structures to meet the wrecking ball in the name of "progress." In an earlier age, Scarlett O'Hara reasoned in Gone With the Wind that the city's "old often came off second best in its conflicts with the self-willed and vigorous new."

Gone are the tracks that passed beneath the huge, iron-spoked fan light into the great shed of Union Station. Gone are the twin towers and the balconies and arches of Terminal Station. Imagination brings the past to light: a small child, alone with a small teddy bear and a large suitcase on a long wooden bench; the row of ticket windows, some with long lines and some with short; signs showing track numbers, train numbers, departure times and lists of towns; crowds poised at gates, waiting to descend the long stairway down to track level; Redcaps and passengers racing along platforms; crews working mail and express; switchers making up trains; and the ever-present voice echoing through the overpowering hugeness of the station, announcing the arriving and departing trains. . .

Crescent, Sou Ry #37, Streamlined train, arriving @ 8:00 a.m. from Toccoa.

Dixie Flyer, L&N #95, Flagship of the "Dixie Way" from Chicago to Florida, arriving from Chattanooga @ 7:35 p.m.

Flamingo, L&N #17, arriving from Cincinnati, Knoxville and Chattanooga @ 8:10 a.m. Northbound #18 departs @ 7:50 p.m.

Man o' War, CofG #20, Coach streamliner named after the famous thoroughbred, departing Atlanta for Columbus @ 10:25 a.m., but waits up to 15 minutes for Southern #47, The Southerner, due at 10:20 a.m.

Nancy Hanks II, CofG #108, Coach streamliner named after the famous trotter, departing Atlanta for Savannah @ 6:00 p.m.

Peach Queen, Sou Ry #29, arriving daily from Charlotte, Greensboro, Washington, Baltimore and New York @ 4:05 p.m.

Ponce de Leon, Sou Ry #1, arriving in Atlanta @ 10:45 a.m. from Rome.

Royal Palm, Sou Ry #3, departing Atlanta @ 9:40 p.m. for Jacksonville via Valdosta.

Silver Comet, SAL #33, featuring "Dependable Streamliner Service," arriving in Atlanta @ 7:20 a.m. from the northeast.

Southerner, Sou Ry #47, the fast New York to New Orleans streamlined train, arriving in Atlanta @ 10:20 a.m., departing 10 minutes later for Anniston and Birmingham.

As the sleek MARTA train arrives at Chamblee, one can--twice daily--look past the electrically powered, four-motor aluminum cars with their orange, yellow and blue striping and see the AMTRAK Crescent running the Norfolk Southern mainline behind double-headed AMD103s. Watching the well-lighted windows flow by like a bright wave, one speculates about the future of passenger rail.

Later that day at the same station, one might see GP60s heading up the Piedmont Division with a consist of hoppers. Enveloped by the roar of engines and the smell of fumes, one applauds the on-going resurgence of freight.

Looking south down the empty tracks between trains, one leans outward almost expecting a Ps-4 or an E8 to materialize from the heat mirages of the middle distance powering a passenger express through the golden age. Those old trains took one far away and took one home, and they carried magic, certainty, explorers, fast horses, flowering trees, sunny destinations and an old Southern song in their names.

The Life of an Atlanta Trolley
by Paul Grether

 

This story begins in 1922.

The Georgia Railway and Power Company is slowly beginning to modernize its fleet of streetcars in Atlanta. To replace some two-axle cars and older four-axle heavy streetcars, an order for twenty modern lightweight streetcars is placed with the McQuire-Cummings Company in Paris, Illinois.

The new cars are numbered in the 600-619 series and the GR&PCo builds 20 identical cars in its Fulton County Plant on Virginia Avenue in Midtown Atlanta numbered 620-639. #636 is born in 1924.

Trolley #636 roars through the 1920s and then last rides through the Depression, which Georgia Power survives reasonably well thanks to its modernization program.

In the late 1930s Georgia Power begins replacing the streetcars with trackless trolleys. World events block this plan and #636 sees hyper-inflated wartime transit demand and a temporary streetcar reprieve as a result of World War II. #636 serves valiantly for a country that is besieged by gasoline and tire rationing, and takes wartime commuters to and from jobs supporting the war effort. The trolley cars even have women conductors and motormen for the first time.

After the war, flurries of orders are placed with trackless trolley manufacturers and as soon as they are delivered, streetcars are taken out of service. Faithful trolley #636, one year before the last streetcar runs in Atlanta, is taken out of service in 1948. But for parent Georgia Power, A Citizen Wherever We Serve is not just a slogan and #636 begins her second career as a home in Monticello, Georgia, to help alleviate the post-war housing shortage.

For exactly fifty years the trolley serves as a home, providing the basic need of shelter rather than transport. Now #636, after being moved from Monticello to Duluth last fall by museum personnel, has begun her third chapter in life--retirement at the Southeastern Railway Museum. The museum plans to make #636 the centerpiece of an exhibit on Atlanta transit history, to include Georgia Power trackless trolley #1296, in the next phase of exhibit hall development.

100 Cabooses...and Still Counting

by Malcolm R. Campbell, Paul Grether

What kid, young or old, hasn't dreamed of hiding out in a bright red caboose in the back yard?

Look closely. There might be one next door or down the street. It's on display in a museum or fading away behind an old fence. Or, it contains a visitors center, a police station, a watch repair shop, a bunkhouse, or a beauty parlor.

When we began our Georgia railway equipment survey 12 months and 3,000 miles ago, we had a stack of confirmed sightings and a stack of tips and rumors. To make sense of this, we confined the project to preserved equipment (a pile of rust and rotten boards doesn't count), and to equipment not in use by general system railroads.

In addition to the cabooses, the evolving list includes diesel and steam locomotives, box cars, flat cars, baggage cars, diners, and coaches, totaling 365 items of rolling stock. We have also noted 7 coaling towers, 4 turntables, 2 roundhouses, 2 towers, 4 water towers, and 2 shop complexes.

Librarian Jamie Reid started the project so that we can "discover what's out there and determine what can be preserved." Though there are more leads to pursue, Reid says that he hopes the team--which includes assistant librarians Paul Grether and Fred Dodds--will complete phase one of the survey this spring.

The results will be published as the first in a series of museum monographs. Compiling the facts is gratifying. But the real fun is in the hunt, using old railway atlases, current DOT highway maps, cameras and notebooks.

Equipment turns up where we least expect it. Along a two-lane state road near Montpelier, a "Fall Railroad Festival" sign captures our attention: there are no nearby railroad tracks. We discover a Baptist church campground complete with railroad crossing wigwags and a Southern Railway-style caboose.

Three miles away in an area giving way to kudzu, we find a falling down depot that once served the old Macon & Birmingham, a railroad that ceased operation in 1923.

Near Warm Springs, a flash of sunlight through the trees becomes a sleeping car, two diners, and two coaches in a field. In Buckhead (near Augusta) we pass the rusted hulk of a streetcar; then we see a well-preserved electric bus--a former Atlanta Transit Company Trackless Trolley--with working lights!

The search will never end. Stuff gets moved around, a guy bush hogging broom sage and brush uncovers a box car, or somebody remembers seeing something down the road a few years ago. Maybe that "something" is another sighting of that yellow caboose along the Ocmulgee River, or maybe--with a little bit luck, it might just be a locomotive or railcar not yet on our list.

Northern Bankers put the Central Back on Track
by Conrad Cheatham

 

The Civil War left the railroads of the South in shambles. To rebuild would require thousands of dollars. Unfortunately the banking systems of the South were also in shambles. The resources of most banks were in Confederate dollars which had no spending value in 1865. In order to find the needed financing railroads were forced to look outside the area. Their options were limited: the financial centers of the Northeast (former enemies), or the financial centers of Europe.

The new president of the Central Railroad & Banking Company was William Wadley. Wadley was faced with this option and after some consideration chose the Northeast. Wadley went to New York City and made the acquaintance of Moses Taylor who was then head of the National City Bank. Wadley impressed Taylor with his railroad knowledge and desire to restore the Central. Under Taylor's direction the National City Bank made a loan of $100,000 to the Central.

Moses Taylor was a good choice as a source for railroad money. By the time Wadley arrived in the summer of 1865 Taylor had been involved in financing for some 15 years. He had developed his railroad interests in the early 1850s through his financial ties with coal and iron companies. He had been associated with the Scranton brothers, John Insley Blair, the Dodge brothers, and others in developing coal and iron businesses. Both industries needed railroad services and these gentlemen expanded their financial investments into railroads.

In 1854 Taylor purchased 1,400 shares of stock in the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad. By 1865 he had 20,000 shares of stock and control of the D.L.&W. He invested also in the Warren Railroad, the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Philadelphia & Reading, the Michigan Central, and others.

When Wadley met Taylor he met a man already heavily involved in railroads. This contact with Wadley stirred Taylor's interest in the railroads of the South. He purchased his first Central stock in 1868 and by 1873 was its largest stockholder with 3,000 shares compared to 20 for Wadley.

Taylor bought stock and bonds in the Mobile & Girard, the Western Railway of Alabama, the Macon & Western, etc. He provided funds for the Central's Ocean Steamship Company. Taylor's bank gave Wadley the money to purchase the Montgomery & Eufala before the L&N could get it. When Wadley could not persuade the Central board to lease the Georgia Railroad the Taylor connection made it possible for Wadley to lease the GAR in 1881.

Moses Taylor was involved in the western expansion of railroads also. Railroad construction was often too expensive for Midwestern communities. So the builders were forced to turn to the same options which Wadley faced in 1865 -- Europe or the Northeast. Often they turned to what were called Eastern capitalists, or Eastern money men. Taylor, Blair, the Dodges, and others invested in various roads which later became parts of the Chicago & Northwestern, the Rock Island, the Burlington, and others, including the original Union Pacific effort in 1862. Even after Taylor died in 1882 his estate continued to hold railroad stock. Taylor's chief assistant and son-in-law (the relationship developed in that order) Percy R. Pyne took care of the estate's interest.

Moses Taylor helped the Central Railroad of Georgia get back on its feet and expand beyond its Savannah to Macon core.

Source: "The Business Career of Moses Taylor" by Daniel Hodus, New York: New York University Press.

Gwinnett Rail: A Different Type of 'Air Line'
by Ruddy Ellis

 

Visitors to the Southeastern Railway Museum frequently hear the roar of trains along the track between the museum and Buford Highway. Most folks probably know that this is the Norfolk-Southern main line from Atlanta to Richmond, Virginia, and the route of AMTRAK's "Crescent" from New Orleans to Washington, D.C.

Atlanta came into being as the junction of the Georgia Railroad, the Macon & Western and the Western & Atlantic. Trains were running on these three lines by 1845. If you wanted to get to our nation's capital at Washington, D.C., you could ride to Savannah or Augusta and take a boat up the coast, or you could take a train to Chattanooga, then up through Tennessee and Virginia.

As Atlanta grew in importance, it was natural that railroad advocates would consider building a railroad along a straight line from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina to Richmond, Virginia. Such a railroad route is known as an "Air Line." In 1858, a meeting was held in Gainesville, Georgia, of the stockholders of the "Georgia Air Line Railroad." The President was Jonathan Norcross.* The Civil War delayed any construction of the line.

After the war, the New York & New Orleans Air Line was incorporated in 1866, but construction in northeast Georgia was started in 1869, by the Atlanta & Richmond Air Line. A. S. Buford was the president of this railroad. By September 1869, the first 20 miles of grading was complete. By November 1870, grading was nearly completed to Gainesville. By September 1873, passenger trains ran through to Charlotte.

This railroad ran into bankruptcy and the property was taken over by the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line in February, 1877. By 1881, the Richmond & Danville Railroad put together a large system throughout the southeast including the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line. The name was changed to the Southern Railway System in 1894 and remained "The Southern" for many years. Finally, the Southern Railway merged with the Norfolk & Western Railway in 1982 resulting in today's Norfolk-Southern Railway.

The track near the museum was single tracked until the tremendous World War I traffic forced a double tracking of the entire line from Atlanta to Richmond in 1917. At the same time, curves were straightened and major relocations took place. Mt. Airy was bypassed altogether and a new bridge across the Tugalo River was built a mile or so upstream.

The advent of centralized traffic control allowed Southern to go back to single track along the route to reduce maintenance. However, the track near the museum has remained double track as part of a long siding, often allowing trains to pass each other without stopping. The track is a major route for the heavy freight traffic of the Norfolk-Southern. It sees two AMTRAK Crescent trains each day and, in a few years, it may see commuter trains running from Atlanta to Gainesville.

*Editor's note: Jonathan Norcross, an Atlanta merchant, was the city's fourth mayor in 1851.

Pullman's Superb: Presidential Journeys
by Malcolm Campbell

 

President Warren G. Harding traveled west by rail out of Washington, D. C. aboard the Pullman Private Car Superb in June 1923, to revitalize both his health and his rapport with the American people. He failed the first objective and briefly met the second. Dying of a heart attack in August, he returned to Washington, D.C., in a casket, and then onto Marion, Ohio, for burial, uniting the country in grief.

Prior to the trip, Pullman outfitted the car with a public address system for whistle stop speeches and a transmitter for broadcasting. This was the first nation-wide broadcast of Presidential speeches and the first time a car of this type was fitted with wireless equipment.

The Superb, which opened to the public in 1995, after an 18-month restoration project, is classified as a heavyweight. Heavyweight cars are distinguished by a riveted carbon steel body, six-wheel trucks, clerestory roof, a steel underframe shaped like a fish belly, and a concrete floor. These cars were so durable that many were in mainline service into the 1960s.

Built in 1911, the Superb is the second oldest heavyweight private car in existence, and the oldest that is still as built by Pullman.

Harding's 10-car Presidential special traveled to Tacoma, WA, with intermediate stops at St. Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Butte, MT, Spokane, WA, and other cities. After a side trip to Alaska by ship, the President became ill and was rushed south to a San Francisco hospital where he died August 2. The last photograph of Warren G. Harding was taken as he left the Superb at Southern Pacific Station.

On August 3, slightly less than 24 hours after his death, Harding's casket was placed back on board the Superb. The funeral train left the station behind a Mogul locomotive with a clanging bell; the growing crowds there were the first of an estimated 3,000,000 people who lined the tracks eastward to pay their last respects.

Today, the Superb is the only existing railcar to have carried the casket of a President during his term in office.

Prior to Harding's trip, President Woodrow Wilson used the car on occasion. In 1926, it was painted red and temporarily re-named Pope Pius XI for use in the "Cardinals Train" that carried church officials from New York to Chicago for a Eucharistic Congress. During World War II, it saw service as a supply and porter car in New Jersey.

During most of the years between 1928 and its 1969 retirement, the Superb operated as a business car for the Charleston & Western Carolina Railroad. When successor railroad Seaboard Coast Line donated the car to the museum, it carried only a number. With its name removed, the Superb was lost to history for a time.

Time has done its damage in 87 years, but these heavyweights were built to last. The restoration project moves forward as we focus on those brief moments in 1923, when the Superb was the very center of the nation's attention.

Western & Atlantic: 'Crookedest Road Under the Sun
by James G. Bogle

 

The Western & Atlantic Railroad of the State of Georgia was created by an act of the General Assembly of Georgia on December 21, 1836. Since it was to cross the state line into Tennessee and connect with the Tennessee River near Ross' Landing, companion legislation was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly on January 24, 1838. These legislative acts provided for a railroad to be surveyed and constructed from a point near present-day Chattanooga on the Tennessee River, to an eligible point on the southeastern bank of the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.

The survey was made under the direction of Lt. Colonel Stephen Harriman Long, U.S. Army. Construction began around the end of November 1839 and the last rails were laid in the Spring of 1850. The total cost of building the W&A RR was $4,087,925 and it was paid for by the people of Georgia.

When the southern end of the W&A RR was located at a point southeast of the Chattahoochee River to be known as Terminus, later Marthasville, and Atlanta, the Macon & Western Railroad and the Georgia Railroad were extended to that point. Another important link was the Atlanta & LaGrange Railroad, begun in 1849, which later formed the line from Atlanta to West Point and on to Montgomery, via the Western Railway of Alabama, better known as the West Point Route.

With so much railroad building going on in Georgia, the state of Tennessee recognized the need for land transportation and in 1845 authorized the construction of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad connecting the named cities. Construction of the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad began soon after to provide a line connecting Knoxville to the south with the W&A RR at Dalton, Georgia. Later a branch line was built from Cleveland, Tennessee, to Chattanooga using a tunnel bored through the north end of Missionary Ridge. Another line was built east of Memphis, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad which connected with the N&C RR at Stevenson, Alabama, and used the latter's tracks to enter Chattanooga.

The W&A RR was the connecting link in a well devised system of railroads that made Georgia the Keystone State of the South and the future City of Atlanta, the Gateway City. The route today remains essentially as surveyed by Colonel Long and his men in the 1830s. The W&A RR is a very crooked one with total curvatures exceeding 10,000 degrees which means that in a distance of 138 miles, the road makes about 28 complete circles. Superintendant John W. Lewis, in his annual report of September, 30, 1860, referred to the W&A RR as the "crookedest road under the sun."

Colonel Long did lay out a line that was free of heavy grades. The ruling grade is less than one percent which is remarkable considering the topography between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Colonel Long found a way to leave Chattanooga without having to tunnel under Missionary Ridge, but as he came south through the ridge and valley section of northwest Georgia it was necessary to tunnel through Chetoogeta Mountain. This tunnel was the final obstacle to completion of the W&A RR and the headings were driven through on October 31, 1849. On May 9, 1850, the rails were finished and the first train ran over the entire line. This tunnel is 1,447 feet in length and extends in an east-west direction though the W&A runs in a general north-south direction.

The road bed of the W&A, as initially constructed, would bear little resemblance to the line of today. Untreated logs for ties, no ballast with strap iron rails with holes for spikes in the bar. Later, a flange rail was used, then came the "U" rail and finally the "T" rail. By 1861 when the Civil War began, the W&A had the early form of "T" rail on the first 50 miles north of Atlanta and the balance was "U" rail with some flange bar rail on the northern end. Motive power was of the American type, 4-4-0, and we have two excellent examples in our area today--the General and the Texas.

The W&A was well used in the Civil War and was essentially the route of The Atlanta Campaign in 1864. After the war, General William T. Sherman, commander of the Federal forces wrote: "The W&A RR of Georgia should be the pride of every true American because by reason of its existence the Union was saved. Every foot of it should be sacred ground, because it was once moistened with patriotic blood. Over a hundred miles of it was fought in a continuous battle of 120 days, during which, night and day, were heard the continuous boom of cannon and the sharp crack of the rifle."

The W&A went through some bad times during the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War. On December 12, 1870, State operation of the line ceased and it was leased to the Western & Atlantic Railroad Company formed by ex-Governor Joseph E. Brown. This lease was good for the line and lasted until 1890 when the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway obtained lease of the railroad. Then in 1957, when the Louisville &Nashville RR merged the NC & StL into their system, the L&N secured the lease. So operation of the W&A continued through successor companies until the formation of CSX Transportation who now operates this very busy railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga.

Sleeping in Comfort: Pullman Fundamentals
by Lesa H. Campbell

 

The term "Pullman" has become synonymous with sleeping cars just as the word "Kleenex" is commonly used to mean facial tissue. While at least five different rail car companies were constructing "sleepers" in the late 1900s, this article follows innovations made by The Pullman Company of Chicago, Illinois.

The first prototype "sleeper car" was the result of modifications made to a standard coach in 1859. Cars from this era were still made entirely of wood (except for the wheels and axles); heat came from a wood-burning stove and light from candles. The 10 lower berths were created by placing a mattress across two facing seats, and the 10 upper berths were little more than mattresses on fixed shelves.

The Pioneer (1865) was the first rail car designed and built for sleeper service. Pullman constructed this car higher, wider, and longer than day coaches to accommodate its new features. A raised roof provided not only a higher interior ceiling, but a place to install windows to improve ventilation. Folding upper berths first appeared, and a hot air furnace (located under the floor) replaced the dangerous wood-burning stoves.

By 1887, the Victorian period produced the most ornate sleeping cars ever built. With high backed seats, French upholstery, plush carpeting, carved mahogany paneling, and water provided from overhead gravity supply system tanks, Pullmans reached the height of elegance. Light was now supplied from oil lamps rather than candles, and car bodies were still primarily made of wood. One new Pullman invention -- the vestibule -- provided for the first time for safe passage between cars.

The first all-steel sleeping car was built in 1907 but was not mass produced until 1910. By this time, car lengths had reached 74 feet (compared to the 50 ft. Pioneer). A common floorplan would have 12 sleeping sections (upper and lower berths, with hallway curtains), one drawing room with its own toilet facilities, a men's dressing room and a women's dressing room. Electric lighting was now available, supplied from generators attached to the car's axles. By this time, interiors were much less ornate, and standardized design would prevail.

The first Pullman car built as a sleeper was produced in 1865. The upper berths were slanted in toward the windows, providing more head room for daytime passengers. The "upper deck" on the roof was an innovation added with the design of this car; its windows provided ventilation. The Pullman Company began the practice of supplying sheets, blankets, and pillows, causing some difficulty with frequent passengers who were accustomed to sleeping in their boots and coats.

The single room car appeared in 1927, providing more privacy than that afforded by section sleepers with hallway curtains. One car could contain as many as 14 rooms, each with its own bed, toilet, and folding washstand. Air conditioning was added to cars in 1929.

The late 1930s saw the introduction of alloy-steel to construct new "lightweight" cars of streamline design. Building of "section" sleepers was discontinued in favor of the "all room" cars, and the three basic room designs introduced then have proven to be classics, for they are still found in cars built for Amtrak service today. The one-person roomette has a sofa, toilet, and washstand, plus a bed which folds out from the wall. The compartment has a long sofa which converts into a bed, and an overhead, folddown berth, plus the same toilet and washstand facilities as a roomette. The drawing room has a long sofa which coverts into a bed, two chairs, an overhead folddown berth, and a third bed which folds out from the wall; the toilet facilities are located in an adjoining separate area.

The Pullman Company ceased manufacturing passenger cars in 1978. While today's travelers would be appalled by the lack of comfort afforded by the "fixed shelf" sleepers of the 1860s, the 1860s traveler was amazed at the simple luxury of having a place to lie down.

An impressive number of Pullman innovations introduced prior to 1900 are still standards today, giving credence to the Company motto: Progress Without End.

Steam: The Power That Turns the Wheels
by Randy Minter

 

The drawing below shows a simplified side view of Georgia Power #97, the 0-6-0 tank engine that operates athe museum during the April to November season. How does a steam engine work? Compare the numbered items in the drawing with the descriptions that follow, and you will know The Basics.

The tank (1) contain water to make the steam which moves the engine and its train. The water is heated to boil off as steam in the boiler (2).

Within the boiler is the trottle valve which is operated from the cab (5). The steam leaves the throttle and travels by pipe to the cylinders (3). The cylinders contain valves that allow the engine to go both forward and backward. The cylinders also contain pistons that deliver the power of the steam--by connecting rods--to the driving wheels (4).

After the steam is used by the pistons, it exhausts out the stack above the cylinders, which is where steam locomotives get their chugging sound.

To make trains more reliable and safe, air brakes were developed. Steam driven air compressors (7) supply the air for the system. Controls for both the engine brakes and the train brakes are located inside the cab. The brake cylinder (8) uses air via a series of fulcroms and rods to slow down and stop the engine. Hoses at both ends of the engine supply compressed air for the brakes on the cars on the train.

Power for the locomotive's cab lights and headlights is supplied by a turbine generator (9) in front of the cab. The generator is commonly called a dynamo by railroaders and has a distinctive whine.

Once a coal burner, #97 now burns No. 2 fuel oil which is located in a tank (6) behind the cab. The fuel is burned as needed to keep up enough steam to operate the locomotive. The fire is manually controlled by a fireman with controls inside the cab.

Engine efficiency is improved by sand that is fed as needed from the dome (10) onto the rails to provide better traction during heavy pulls or adverse conditions.

The couplers (11) are, perhaps, one of the most important parts of the locomotive. They make it possible for the locomotive to push or pull the train.

One item is not numbered and it is generally the first thing you hear: the whistle. If you can't find it on the drawing, you'll have no trouble finding it on the locomotive itself.

An important component is not pictured: the crew. The engineer sits on the right side of the cab, the fireman on the left. Between trips, you will find them busy with wrenches, oil cans, and water hoses. While they might stand still long enough for a photograph, they would much prefer to talk about their locomotive and the power of steam.

Rail Communications Use All the Bells and Whistles
by Jamie Reid

 

Bells first appeared on American locomotives in the early to mid 1830s, as a warning device in yards and at railroad crossings. Whistles were originally developed in England, appearing slightly later here. Both were in general use by the end of the 1830s. Steam whistles were louder and served both as warning and signaling devices.

Bells on passenger trains were sounded for a short period before the train moved, the ringing continuing until the locomotive left the station. The bell was an indication that a train was either moving or about to move. The fireman usually controlled the bell, originally tugging on a cord to ring it, while later bells were actuated by air pressure, requiring the fireman or engineer only to turn a knob. Bells were also sounded in urban areas where the ringing bell could be heard long before the puffing steam engine. Noise pollution makes bells less effective today.

Whistles served not only as a warning, but were a communications signal for train crews as well. Without radios, communications depended on hand and light signals, often answered by a locomotive whistle. Sometimes whistles served alone. Whistle signals sounded between locomotives and operators in depots, or to the flagman protecting the rear of a train. Only the engine's whistle had the volume to be heard long distances

Different patterns of long and short tones had meanings. One combination might announce a station stop ahead, another would tell the engineer on a helper engine to begin pulling. Before automatic air brakes became common in the early part of the twentieth century, "whistle down brakes" was a signal for brakemen to run along the roofs of cars, turning or tightening "down" hand brakes. Automatic brakes eliminated this dangerous practice.

Today only a few whistle signals remain. Two blasts of the whistle or air horn announce a train about to move ahead. Three blasts, and the informed understand that the train is about to back up. This may confuse the onlooker, because "back" and "forward" relate only to the orientation of the locomotive, not its train. So if an engine has been place to run in reverse while pulling the train ahead, you will hear the engineer give a back up signal.

A single short blast announces that brakes have been set, important knowledge if passengers are about to be loaded or unloaded. Sometimes a series of short blasts serves as a warning to persons or animals on the tracks. Everyone has heard the grade crossing signal of two long blasts, a short, and another long blast, sounds giving warning to all crossing the right of way.

Long ago locomotive engineers took pride in their ability to "play" their whistles, quilling the tone to make each whistle an individual signature. Once engineers purchased their own whistles, moving them from locomotive to locomotive. These multiple chime whistles would play tunes, and some engineers were known for their artistry. Alas, corporate efficiency replaced individuality and whistles were standardized and supplied by the railroads Still, engineers "played" their whistles by muting parts of the sound and opening up on others.

When diesels replaced steam, air horns took over. The first of these gave off a deep unpleasant blatt that was generally disliked. These were soon replaced by multiple tone air chimes. While air horns cannot be played in the manner of their steam predecessors, they still offer some opportunity for individuality. On track alongside the museum, you can listen for the different sounds as trains pass by.

Individuality is rapidly passing as railroads merge into great systems. At the same time, technical improvements offer less opportunity for the engineer's self expression. One recent development has the engineer merely push a button, causing a prerecorded crossing signal to play. Perhaps future whistles and bells will not need human intervention.

Distinctive Equipment For The 'Crescent Limited'

Reprinted from the "Southern News Bulletin," Volume 16, Number 11, November, 1929, p. 1.

Making the exterior appearance and interior appointments of the "Crescent Limited" as distinctive as the service this de luxe train offers to passengers between New York and New Orleans, via Washington and Atlanta, new equipment, just built by the Pullman Company, was placed in operation on October 21st, complete trains having started from New York and New Orleans on that date. (1)

Thomas Ruffin during move to new site

The Thomas Ruffin, followed by Georgia Power (1943 Porter 0-6-0) #97, was moved to SRM's new site by Norfolk Southern on September 27, 1998. When the car was repainted prior to the move, SRM used a Virginia Green based on Dupont's formula for the 1929 Southern Railway trainset and a light green based on anecdotal descriptions of the original color.
photo by Diana Hardt

The exteriors of the cars are painted in two shades of green. The sides of the cars up to the window sills and the panels above the windows are painted Virginia Green, the shade which Southern Railway passenger locomotives are painted. The panels between the windows are in a lighter shade. All the cars are lettered "Crescent Limited" in gold leaf in the upper panels. Each train includes one club car; one 8-section, 2 compartment, 1-drawing room sleeping car; one 14-section car; four 10-section, 2-drawing room cars; (2) one 3-compartment, 2-drawing room observation car. Southern Railway postal car is handled between Washington and Atlanta and dining car between Monroe and Atlanta, making the maximum consist ten cars between Monroe and Atlanta. (3) The Southern Railway cars are painted just as the Pullman cars with the exception that the word "Southern" is painted at the ends of the upper panels in place of the word "Pullman."

The interior arrangements of the sleeping cars include all the latest developments of the Pullman Company's car designers. The color scheme and upholstery are very attractive and great improvement has been made in the lighting fixtures. The aisle lights are placed in divisions between the sections so that a passenger desiring to read has the light to come over his shoulder. The side lights are of the bracket type. Both upper and lower berths are fitted with box spring mattresses, providing the maximum of comfort. The vestibules are provided with safety doors, the upper half of which can be opened while the lower half remains firmly locked.

The complete trains present a stream of green from locomotive to observation car. As these handsome and distinctive trains pass from New York to New Orleans and in the opposite direction they immediately attract attention and are bound to prove one of the best possible advertisements for the Southern's service. Before being put into service, one of the trains was exhibited at Washington and then run to New Orleans with stops at Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, Concord, Charlotte, Atlanta, Montgomery and Mobile. Large crowds turned out everywhere and many favorable expressions were heard. The first train to leave New York was also exhibited in the Pennsylvania station.

The "Crescent Limited" is the successor of the pioneer through train between New York and New Orleans and is operated over the historic route, using the Pennsylvania Railroad between New York and Washington, the Southern between Washington and Atlanta, the West Point Route between Atlanta and Montgomery, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad between Montgomery and New Orleans. (4)


SRM NOTES:

(1) These distinctive colors as well as the name Crescent Limited would fall by the wayside during the depression because running a premier class train during hard times didn't make for good public relations. The name was officially discontinued in 1934 after having been absent from the time tables for several years. At that time, the train was referred to by its numbers (37 & 38) and began to include coaches. In 1938, the train was renamed the Crescent and began using the first air conditioned coaches on the Southern System. Southern Railway kept the Crescent out of AMRAK until February 1, 1979. The lead locomotive on the last run of the Crescent under Southern Railway control was Sou Ry #6901. This E8 passenger diesel is on display at SRM.

(2) The Crescent Limited served Atlanta via Terminal Station which opened on Spring Street on May 13, 1905. Terminal Station also served the Central of Georgia, Atlanta & West Point, and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. The station was demolished in 1972. Today's AMTRAK Crescent serves Atlanta via Brookwood Station which began as a stop for suburban riders in 1918.

(3) The 1929 sleeper Thomas Ruffin (Sou Ry #2442) is the only known survivor of this trainset. In 1935, it was modified to its current configuration of 10 sections, two bedrooms and one drawing room. The car is under restoration at SRM.

(4) The train dates back to the Washington and Southwestern Vestibule Limited, which began running between Washington and Atlanta in January, 1891 on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. With the formation of the Southern Railway, which included the R&D, in 1894, the train--which had expanded its service to New Orleans via Montgomery--was renamed the Washington and Southwestern Limited. The train was renamed the New York and New Orleans Limited in 1906 and the Crescent Limited in 1925.

Impressive Harding Memorial Service in Grand Central Terminal

Reprinted from the "New York Central Lines Magazine," Volume IV, Number 6, September, 1923, p. 46.

The nation-wide observance of President Coolidge's proclamation calling on the nation to observe Friday, August 10, (1923) as a memorial day for the late President Harding, on which date the body of the 29th President of the United States was laid to rest in the cemetery at Marion, Ohio, was appropriately participated in by the New York Central Lines.

In compliance with the general order issued to New York Central executives by President A. H. Smith, on Friday, August 10, all work, except that absolutely necessary to required train operations, was suspended during the day. Motive power and car shops were closed, freight houses were shut down, and yard and terminal operations were reduced to a skeleton service, which covered only a fractional of normal operations. Suburban service, out of an into New York City, was scaled down to that customarily observed on a holiday schedule. Similar reductions in train service were carried out at other points where possible.

In Grand Central Terminal impressive services were held at the hour the late President's body was committed to the receiving tomb at Marion, following brief family services. Apprised by advanced newspaper announcements that such services would be held, more than 5,000 persons assembled during the late afternoon in the spacious Concourse.

At 3.50 P. M., Eastern Standard Time, an old bell, which formerly hung in front of the original Grand Central Station in East Forty-second Street, and was used to announce the departure of trains and notable events of the day between 1861 and 1871, which had been hung on the east gallery of the Concourse, was tolled at half-minute intervals, up to 3.59 P. M., by James Williams, chief of the Terminal "red caps," and who was chosen for this solemn duty because during the lifetime of the late President he had carried his luggage and tended to his wants when a passenger on the New York Central Lines.

 

Throng Bows in Prayer

The assemblage of people who had gathered in the Concourse, with bowed and uncovered heads, remained silent during the nine minutes in which the deep-toned bell tolled off its sorrow message, symbolic of the tribute being paid to Warren G. Harding at the same hour in far-away Marion.

From 3.59 to 4.00 P. M. the great mass of people facing the east gallery bowed in one minute prayer and the silence was intense. At the stroke of four, the heart-moving bugle strains of "taps" was sounded from the west balcony by Sergeant George Swarhout of the 107th Infantry, U. S. A. Hardly had the sounds of the soldier's "good night," suitable both to life and death died out within the four walls of the Concourse, when through the closed doors on the Vanderbilt Avenue side came the sweet strains of the call again, sounding like an echo, as Sergeant Swarhout repeated "taps."

The services closed with the singing of the dead President's two favorite hymns, "Lead, Kindly Light," and "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and "America," by the New York Central Choral Society, represented by 200 voices, under the directorship of Professor J. Macombie Murray. The choristers were massed in the east gallery under the bell, and the volume of music incident to the rendering of the three numbers filled the vast auditorium with sweet and inspiring refrains.

The exercises in the Grand Central Terminal were arranged by Miles Bronson, Superintendent of the Electric Division, and directed by him in person on that memorable afternoon.

It's About Time!
by Rowan Howse

 

Reprinted from the "L. & N. Magazine," Volume 39, Number 2, February, 1963, p. 12.

In November, 1883, just a few days after American railroads officially adopted Standard Time, a writer in the Indianapolis, Ind., Sentinel editorialized rather adamantly: "The railroad convention recently in session has determined among other things to have the clocks in this country regulated to suit the convenience of their particular branch of business. Railroad time, it appears, is to be the time of the future.

"And so, people will now have to marry and die by railroad time. Ministers will preach by railroad time, and banks will be required to open and close by the same time. The sun is no longer the boss of the job."

The writer's charge may well have typified the reaction of most Americans when our railroads did institute Standard Time. And yet, one had only to weight the growing complexities of railroad operations in the 1880s against the almost total lack of accurate timekeeping or watch standards to realize why it was absolutely necessary to bring order out of chaos.

Prior to 1883, most cities and towns followed a self-designated local time (or "sun time") based on the movement of the sun across north-south meridians. But even in their earliest years, railroads--by contrast--required some degree of precision in the movement of trains.

A regulation from an 1858 L. & N. timetable stated: "Conductors and engineers must compare their watches daily with the clock in the Louisville Depot, which is the standard time by which all watches of men on the Road must be regulated." That brought a degree of conformity to L. & N. operations, even after the Railroad's southward expansion in the 1870s. And, because its direction was primarily north and south, the L. & N. was not hampered by the disparity of times to the extent some east-west roads were. A reporter traveling by train from Maine to California in 1880 changed his watch over 20 times just to keep track of the prevailing local times.

The mounting irritation among railway passengers and shippers over missed trains, or the misunderstandings that resulted from differences in local times, plus the mistakes (sometimes disastrous) that even railroad men made, offered visible testimony that all was not right in the province of time. . .and that something had to be done!

From the efforts of a dedicated group of railroad leaders came the General Time Convention of 1883, which brought into being Standard Time and the five time zones--Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific--that we know today. Equally important, but not nearly so well known, was the standardization of watches and timekeeping necessary to safe railroad operations. That movement came in 1893 as a result of a bad wreck on an Eastern railroad caused by a faulty watch. Shortly thereafter, the railroads initiated the regular and strict inspection of all watches and clocks needed in train operation and this continues to the present.

"Is the application of time to train operation as important in 1962 as it was 50 or 75 years ago?" We asked this question of several transportation department officers. "It most certainly is!" they declared unanimously. One officers added: "The introduction of G. T. C., diesel locomotives, automatic retarder yards, data-processing equipment and a host of other improvements has not for one minute lessened the importance of accurate time to the safe operation of our trains."

While G. T. C. on the L. & N. in 1963 does control over 2,000 miles of main-line trackage, passenger and freight trains still run on regularly published schedules. And, wherever the particular run or division, train crews continue the time-honored ritual of comparing watches before each run. Of course, transportation department rules require all conductors and engineers to compare watches with a "clock designated by the time table as a standard clock and with each other." The time when watches were compared must then be recorded on a prescribed form (Clearance Form A).

Any L. & N.'er connected with train operations will readily declare that a railroad cannot run without precision time. A work train has been assigned to unload new rail along several miles of track. Train orders, sent to the "extra's" crew, limit the time the train may occupy that section of line before it must "clear" for a regularly scheduled train. Bridge, signal, or M. of W. crews might receive similar instructions. The crew of a train may be handed "wait orders," holding its train at a station, for example, until a specified period of time has passed.

Who must carry watches? Under transportation department rules, all employees concerned with the operation of trains must have watches, and new men joining the Company in such capacity must purchase watches. The list would include assistant superintendents, chief and train dispatchers, yardmasters, trainmasters and their assistants, stationmasters, conductors, brakemen and baggagemen, switch foremen, traveling engineers, engineers and firemen, roundhouse foremen and hostlers as well as division engineers and their assistants, section, bridge and building foremen, track, signal and bridge supervisors, and signal and telephone maintainers. In all, approximately 4,000 to 4,500 employees are affected.

Not only must those employees carry a type and make of watch approved by the Railroad's general time inspector, they are required to submit their watches to locally designated inspectors for monthly comparisons. A card, also carried by the L. & N.'er, is signed by the local inspector each time he checks the man's watch, which--incidentally--receives considerably more scrutiny at an annual inspection, and is cleaned and oiled every 18 to 24 months. Our Railroad's 106 local watch inspectors are appointed by H. J. Webb, general time inspector, Nashville, with the approval of division superintendents and the transportation department.

Just to keep further tabs on "Father Time, the L. & N.'s 101 standard clocks (timetable designated and located at major division points) also come under the careful eye of Mr. Webb. Each day at 11:00 a.m. (12 noon in Eastern Time areas of our System), all standard clocks are adjusted by division personnel from a System-wide time signal sent out by H. C. Tillery, supervisor, communications center, Louisville, and Western Union, Nashville. That signal, by the way, comes direct from the Naval Observatory, Washington, D. C. Each quarter, standard clocks are checked by a representative of the general time inspector.

Today, the pocket watch--traditionally the timepiece for railroaders, is being joined by new and smaller companion, the wristwatch. Currently, several manufacturers are producing wristwatches which are designated especially for railroad service. Last year, two makes were approved by the general time inspector and the transportation department for use by L. & N. men. Our Railroad, by the way, was the first in the south to approve wristwatches.

And the watches were not authorized until they were thoroughly tested on the job by the general time inspector and transportation department officers.

To be acceptable, the new wristwatches must have a 21- (or more) jeweled movement and full numerical dials. They must also have shatter-proof crystals and be encased in water resistant cases. Magnetization of watches, a problem brought on by diesel locomotives, has been eliminated by the use of magnetic shields. The new watches also have shock-proof movements and setting devices so that they can be synchronized with standard clocks. They may have either sweep or smaller second hands.

How many L. & N. men are using the new watches, and what is the average railroader's reaction to using them? J. W. Hollis, assistant general time inspector, estimates that about 10% of time-service employees have wristwatches.

"Sure mighty handy to see," we overheard one trainman say in praise of his new watch. A veteran engineer admitted, "I've had this old timepiece and chain for nearly 30 years, and it's a good 'un. Might just try one of those new watches when this one wears out." He added a comment as to how cramped diesel engine rooms sometimes get!

What finer or more appropriate way then to reward the railroad man when he completes a half-century of service, than by presenting him with a watch or a diamond button, but the great majority choose the watch! We don't know of many other railroads or industries that make similar presentations. Do you?

Loud Speaking Device on President Harding's Car

Reprinted from the "The Pullman News," Volume II, Number 4, August, 1923, p. 99.

One of the features of President Harding's railway journey to the Pacific coast, en route to Alaska, was an invention combining the highest developments in electrical science with a practical advantage that will be indispensable in American politics in the future--the loud-speaking device installed upon the Pullman private car Superb. Unquestionably this broadcaster of oratory will be much heard from next year.

Because of this "Public Address System" President Harding was able, without straining his voice, to make himself heard to thousands surrounding his car. One innocent railroad shopman at Dubois, Ida., expressed the general surprise when he remarked: "What a hell of a big voice that fellow has got." For instance, at Cheyenne, Wyo., there were 12,000 persons around the car. Ordinarily but a few hundred could have heard the speaker, but every one of the thousands heard him distinctly.

Mr. Harding early in the trip took an active interest in the sound amplifier, saying he expected it would prove a "life saver." At Lund, Ut., the president returned from the Zion Park trip ahead of his party and found 3,000 waiting for him. While awaiting the operatives Mr. Harding told of the loud speaker's wonders, and, when the American Telephone & Telegraph representatives arrived, borne on the shoulders of the crowd, he designated the transmitter he would use and adjusted it himself.

After numerous conferences in New York and Chicago by electrical and other officials of the Pullman Company, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Western Electric Company and the New York Division Engineers, the system was designed and constructed, the installation being supervised by Mechanical Inspector John W. Limbrock of the Mechanical department of the Pullman Company at the Wilmington, Del. shops. This was the first time the device was applied to a railway car, and it was designed, built and installed in 33 days.

"We have had the very finest kind of assistance and cooperation from the Pullman Company, especially Mr. Limbrock," wrote Mr. S. P. Grace, general supervisor of by-products of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company to Electrical Engineer Ernest Lunn of the Pullman Company, "and the engineers of our two companies seemed to have no difficulty in quickly arriving at joint conclusions. In particular, I should like to mention the good work done by Mr. Thomas Dean (acting manager) and his shop people in Wilmington. Everything they were asked to do was done on time and in perfect order."

The speech amplifying system was composed of the following units: Three portable transmitters mounted on the railing of the observation platform; a control system in which was located the operating rack with its amplifiers and accessory apparatus, such as batteries, etc.; five projectors or horns mounted in a semi-circle on a specially-built extension on the observation hood, or car roof, and the signal system.

The sound waves of the speaker's voice are absorbed by the transmitters and conveyed by wires to the control room where they are amplified, or increased in volume, and then are delivered to the horns on the roof, which act as powerful megaphones in delivering the words to the audience.

The signal system is arranged so as to enable the audience observer and the platform and control operators to converse by signals. If the observer, who is in the crowd, thinks additional volume is needed he signals the platform man, who indicates the deficiency to the control operator, all this being done without interfering with the speaker or any of his party. The Superb also had a telephone installation that permitted connection with any part of the country, and Mr. Harding was tickled to be able to talk with his sister in Massachusetts.

The presidential campaign of 1924 is likely to see many cars so equipped, as candidates can address millions of citizens without vocal strain or discomfort.

Instructions in Firing for the Beginner
by W. L. French

 

Reprinted from the "Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen's Magazine," Volume 35, Number 2, August, 1903, pp. 222-224.

Q. What should a fireman know before commencing a trip?

A. That the condition of his fire is good, the flue-sheet clean, the grates level and free to be moved, and the ashpan clean. If at night, he should know that the lights are in a condition for use and lighted, and that needed supplies are on the engine. While the engineman is held responsible for starting out on a trip without a supply of sand, coal or water, he will appreciate the fireman's taking note of these things also.

He should observe the water level in the water glass and satisfy himself by the use of the blow-off to the water glass and by the gauge cocks that it is a real and not a fictitious level. He should know that the necessary tools for firing are on his engine.

If the weather is not too cold he should wet the coal down. As a rule the deck will be littered with coal and trash; sweep it out and sweep out in front of the seat-boxes. It will give you a reputation for neatness.

 

Q. What should a fireman do going from the roundhouse to the train in the yard?

A. Keep a sharp watch for switches that might be wrong or cars that do not clear the track being used, and engine and cars moving which the engineman may not see. Do not be afraid to call the engineman's attention to anything you see that is wrong, even if you believe the engineman also sees it. If he is a wise man he will appreciate your watchfulness, even if he does observe the object mentioned.

Ring the bell before the engine is started and ring it while passing through the yard.

 

Q. Does a stop signal imply danger?

A. Yes, sir.

 

Q. What should be the condition of the fire before staring out of the yards?

A. The fire should be burning brightly and of sufficient depth not to tear in holes or to be pulled from the grates in starting the train.

If the train is heavy and about all the engine can start, the fire must be heavier than one that the locomotive could start with little effort.

If the steam and water level are low leaving the roundhouse, as they should be, the fire can be built up to the required point with out blowing off.

Where engines are equipped with automatic blow-off the water in the boiler can be blown out to a low level, benefiting the boiler and at the same time allowing the fire to be built up without the engine blowing off steam through the safety valves, as more water can be supplied to the boiler to keep the steam pressure below the "popping" point.

 

Q. What should always be done before staring an engine?

A. The bell should always be rung.

 

Q. Should a fireman read the train orders before leaving a terminal and ought he to take notice that they are properly executed?

A. Yes, sir.

 

Q. Ought a fireman to familiarize himself with the physical characteristics of the division or divisions of railroad on which he is employed and the location of the stations?

A. Yes, sir.

 

Q. Why?

A. Knowing the location, extent and severity of grades and the location of stations he can have his fire at all times in condition to meet the varying needs of the work: a very necessary thing in locomotive service.

 

Q. What indicates the steam pressure in a boiler?

A. The steam gauge.

 

Q. In that manner does the steam gauge work to indicate boiler pressure?

A. While there are a number of different types they all may be placed in two classes, one where the steam pressure is exerted against a corrugated diaphragm plate, in the other through the medium of a hollow U-shaped tube.

In the steam gauge using the corrugated plate there is a small chamber to which steam is admitted from the boiler through a small pipe. Corrugations on the plate are circular to give plenty of expansion which it could not have it not corrugated. In the center of this plate is a stud with a bell-crank attachment to the outer end of which a rod is attached to the short lever of a toothed segment, the teeth of which work a small pinion wheel attached to the shaft to which a pointer is fastened.

The plate expanding moves the bell crank and the rod conveys this motion to the pointer through the medium of the toothed segment and the pinion wheel, the expansion varying with the pressure until the maximum is reached.

In the other class the pressure entering the tubes tends to straighten them, and this motion is conveyed to the pointer by a series of levers attached to the points of the U-shaped pipe and the pointer stud.

The pressure shown on the steam gauge is the pressure per square inch above the atmospheric pressure.

 

Q. Why is the small steam pipe connecting the gauge with the boiler bent, or sometimes twisted in coils?

A. The live steam injures the elasticity of the diaphragm or tubes and the steam condensing in these bends or coils prevents the hot steam from reaching them.

 

Q. How is the steam shut off from the gauge?

A. By a cock on the boiler head.

 

Q. Are steam gauges always accurate?

A. No, sir.

 

Q. What defects might a gauge have?

A. It might show too much or too little steam pressure.

 

Q. How can this be determined?

A. By testing the gauge, usually against a test gauge that has been tested against a column of mercury.

 

Q. What is the use for which safety valves are placed on a locomotive?

A. To keep the steam pressure at a safe working limit. This pressure is considerably below what the boiler is designed to carry without rupturing the sheets.

 

Q. Why is it necessary to use two?

A. If one becomes inoperative the other would act. It is merely an additional precaution against explosions.

 

Q. Describe the safety valve's action.

A. The valve is held on its seat by a spring adjusted to the desired amount of resistance. When the steam pressure exceeds the resistance of the spring, the valve rises and allows the steam to escape until it is lower in pressure than the resistance of the spring, when it closes. One safety valve is usually set at a higher resistance than the other.

 

Q. What power is used in locomotive practice?

A. Steam.

 

Q. What is steam?

A. Evaporated water in a gaseous form.

 

Q. At what temperature of the water does the change take place?

A. Two hundred and twelve degrees Fahrenheit, when the atmospheric pressure is equal to 15 pounds per square inch.

 

Q. In what manner does the temperature vary?

A. With the atmospheric pressure. As the altitude grows greater and the atmospheric pressure less, the boiling point is lower in degrees of heat, and descending into a denser atmosphere at the earth's surface, the opposite is true.

 

Q. To what pressure is the steam rising from an uncovered vessel equal?

A. The atmospheric.

 

Q. What pressure does the steam gauge show?

A. The pressure of the steam above the atmospheric pressure.

 

Q. Is steam visible?

A. No; what is ordinarily called steam is the steam after it becomes cooled or vaporized.

 

Q. How is steam used?

A. Expansively; that is, steam being a gas and having the tendency of all gases to expand and fill space, by allowing its escape to be regulated by the valve gear through the cylinders this energy is utilized to drive the pistons and give the locomotive its power.

 

Q. How is steam generated?

A. By the action of the heat of the fire on the water. At first little steam bubbles leave the sheets and rising to the top of the body of water explode. As the fire becomes hotter the boiling or evaporation takes place more rapidly. The temperature of the water does not rise above 212' F.

 

Q. What is the composition of soft coal?

A. As a general average it may be taken as 8 per cent carbon, 5 per cent hydrogen and 15 per cent waste substance. This composition varies with the different kinds of coal.

 

Q. What is combustion?

A. Burning. The union of elements of air, called oxygen, with the hydrogen and carbon of the fuel.

 

Q. What appearance has a fire at a high temperature?

A. White and dazzling to the eye.

 

Q. How can such a fire best be obtained and maintained?

A. By firing the coal light and often.

 

Q. What effect has a large amount of coal thrown on a brightly burning fire?

A. It smothers the blaze down, cools the fire and allows generate gases to escape unburned.

 

Q. Is this waste?

A. It is. The escaping unburned gas contains heat units that should be used to convert water into steam.

 

Q. Why should coal be broken into small lumps before firing, to obtain the best results?

A. It ignites and burns more quickly and gives better opportunity for air admission. If a large lump is thrown in it destroys the air admission directly under it, and it burns slower than the small pieces of coal and is often the basis of clinkers.

 

Q. Outside the waste of fuel, is heavy firing in any manner injurious?

A. Yes; it injures the flues, flue sheet and side sheets, and stay bolts.

 

Q. What is the estimated waste of coal when an engine is blowing off steam?

A. Four ounces per second, or about 15 pounds per minute.

 

Q. What can be done to prevent the blowing off of steam when the throttle is closed?

A. Drop the damper and latch the door slightly open. The injector that is not working can be used as a heater. Do not open the fire door to prevent an engine blowing off steam when the engine is working; the injury to the firebox is more than the good accomplished.

 

Q. Of what use is the brick arch?

A. It maintains the interior of the firebox at a more even temperature and retards the escape of gases from the coal through the flues, thus giving more time for their combustion, and assists in mixing the gases of the coal with the air by directing them up and over the arch.

 

Q. Of what are arches constructed?

A. Firebrick.

 

Q. What are the objections to an arch?

A. The brick burn out speedily and if the flues leak to any great extent it must be taken out for the boilermakers to do their work properly. The brick are not expensive and on a whole they are an advantage.

 

Q. Why does closing the damper lessen the rapidity of combustion in a firebox?

A. The supply of air passing through the fire and fanning it is shut off, the generating of coal gas is diminished, as well as the burning of the solid part of the coal.

 

Q. Why are grates made so they can be rocked?

A. To shake out the burned refuse next to the grates and keep the fire light and clean, thus offering the best opportunity for the admission of air through the grates.

 

Q. Is there any rule to determine how often grates should be shaken?

A. No. The kind and amount of coal being used and the manner in which an engine works the fire alone can determine this. Practical experience and observation on the part of the fireman will soon enable him to determine for himself the manner in which to handle the grates to obtain the best results.

 

Q. What is the effect of getting an ashpan too full of ashes?

A. It shuts off the draft through the dampers, and if allowed to reach the grates may cause them to burn out.

 

Q. How does the exhaust steam passing through the stack create a draft on the fire?

A. It creates a vacuum in the smokebox, and air entering through the damper passes through the fire and flues to fill this vacuum. In its passage through it loses a certain amount of its oxygen. This process is constant and rapid while an engine is working steam.

 

Q. What is the use of a blower?

A. to clean up the smoke when the throttle is shut, used with the door slightly open and the dampers down. To obtain steam when necessary on an engine that is leaking, it should be used as lightly as possible at all times.

 

Q. Name some abuses of a boiler?

A. Allowing the temperature to vary greatly in the firebox, the fire to get heavy, firing heavy and failure to keep the grates loose.

 

Q. What should be done to keep leaky boilers in the best shape?

A. Fire light and keep the fire from growing heavy, maintain firebox at as near the same temperature as possible and heat feed water when possible.

 

Q. Will noting the water level in the boiler assist one in firing?

A. It will.

 

Q. In what manner?

A. By permitting one to fire to suit the needs of the water supply.

 

Q. What should a fireman do after arrival?

A. Care for any signals displayed, see that there is a supply of water in the boiler and sufficient fire to last the engine until the arrival of the engine dispatcher. If at night put out lights that are not needed.

SRM History: A Real ‘Cinderama’ Story
This article first appeared in the Atlanta NRHS newsletter The “Hot Box,” in May, 1979. Its author, George Weber, served as The “Hot Box” editor for 30 years and holds a unique perspective on the museum's development.

A primary reason for the founding 20 years ago and continuous existence of the Atlanta Chapter, National Railway Historical Society is the development and preservation of a museum of historic railway equipment. A brief history of this museum follows, with emphasis upon locations.

 

Lakewood Park Display

Atlanta's railroad museum was dedicated in October 1958 -- prior to the Chapter's formation, and was first named "Cinderama." This museum was located in Lakewood Park -- a few blocks from I-75/85 south of Atlanta -- near one of the Southeastern Fair exhibit buildings. Upon formation in 1959, Atlanta Chapter, NRHS administered the Park's "Southeastern Transportation Museum" on behalf of the city of Atlanta. This involved maintaining the equipment on hand that had been donated to the city, and extending the museum to accommodate additional equipment given to the Chapter.

The Lakewood Park facility of the museum hosted numerous visitors during the annual Southeastern Fairs of 1958-1964 (10-day period in Sept. or Oct.) It was open during specific weekend hours throughout the balance of the year, or by special arrangement at other times. All maintenance and staffing (hosting) of the exhibits was done by Atlanta Chapter members.

The Lakewood display could only hold six statically-displayed items of equipment on two parallel fenced-in tracks, but the Chapter's museum collection continued to grow through subsequent donations which were stored on leased trackage in Atlanta. Clearly the need had arisen for a permanent museum site: (1) large enough for static display of Atlanta Chapter's entire collection, (2) also suitable for partial operation, and (3) connected to nearby rail lines. In 1965, all rail museum equipment at Lakewood Park was moved out and put in storage pending development of such a site.

To aid the promotion of its Lakewood museum primarily and its excursions, Atlanta Chapter published in 1964 "An Introduction to N.R.H.S. Atlanta" with text and photos.

 

Site Near Duluth

On March 8, 1966, the Southern Railway generously donated to the Atlanta Chapter-NRHS the present 12-acre site for a museum, for which the Chapter is indeed grateful. This site, now with controlled rail access to Southern's Atlanta-Washington, D.C., mainline, is near the junction of US 23 (Buford Highway) and Berkeley Lake Road about two miles south of Duluth in Gwinnett County and 23 miles northeast of Atlanta.

A topographic survey was completed by a few Chapter members shortly after the donation of the land. This survey was prepared for the Engineering Department of the Southern for their use in working out a track plan with acceptable grade. A master development plan was also compiled.

In the spring of 1969, grading of the property was completed. Over 70,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to level the site. By May of 1970, a chain link fence enclosed the property and Chapter members were laying rail inside the fence. On July 11, 1970 the first items of Chapter equipment were moved into our museum site. Security lights were soon installed.

Progress in the further development of the Atlanta Chapter's "Southeastern Railway Museum" has continued. Additional trackage has been laid to accommodate almost all of the Chapter's large collection (some items not at the museum are used on excursions). The grounds have been landscaped, drainage provisions installed, and some equipment restored. Excavation for the turntable pit is underway.

A three-car complex (with electricity and running water) houses the visitor center, restrooms, museum office and telephone, and living accommodations for the regular museum crew. Another car houses the growing museum library. Limited operations on cleared trackage are made.

When completed, the museum will have an operating turntable and roundhouse as well as a yard for equipment display and a depot to handle passengers riding our equipment on the 1/2-mile loop within the museum fence. A shop is also planned on the site.

 

Conclusion

A railroad museum for the Atlanta area is most appropriate because this city was born as a railroad terminus. Further museum development is essential to the preservation of the Atlanta Chapter, NRHS' historic rail equipment collection.

Trackless Trolley Returns to Atlanta
by Paul Grether

 

SRM has acquired a trackless trolley that once ran in the city of Atlanta. Donated by Stephen Siniard of Cartecay, Georgia, Georgia Power #1296 was moved to the museum in late February, 1998 by the Army Reserve. The vehicle, built by Pullman-Standard in 1947, remained in service until 1963 when the transit system was converted to diesel busses.

Prior to the move, museum volunteers inspected the vehicle and prepared it for the trip to Duluth, procurred a set of old tires once used on a MARTA bus, and transported railroad ties to Cartecay for use as fill in a temporary road the Siniard family built so that the trackless trolley could be towed off the property.

CWO4 James Terry, commanding officer of the 587th Service Company out of Ft. Gillem, said that moves of this kind are valuable to his unit because they supplement classroom training with field training.

"Moving the trackless trolley," he said, "was very useful because it was large, heavy, had no brakes, and we encountered difficult terrain while extricating it. This simulates a damaged army vehicle which it would be our job to bring home."

In the late 1930s, Atlanta's streetcar system was, like many others across the country, running in the red. The Georgia Railway & Power Company, predecessor to the Georgia Power Company, was looking for a way to modernize its streetcar system to attract riders.

While some systems in the country were replacing their old streetcars with more modern streetcars or with diesel and gas busses, Georgia Power had a rather unique solution to modernization.

On June 27th, 1937 the first so-called trackless trolleys hit the streets of Atlanta on route #20 from downtown to College Park, Hapeville, and East Point. The increased flexibility of the trackless trolleys to maneuver in traffic and provide curbside loading made them a huge success and prompted plans to convert the majority of the system. On August 24th, 1940 the line through Buckhead to Oglethorpe was converted to Trolley Coach with much fanfare.

Georgia Power planned more conversions but World War II and tire rationing put a temporary stop to that. After the war, Pullman's newly modernized Osgood-Bradley facility in Worcester, Massachusetts switched from military to civilian production, building 1,128 trolley coaches between 1946 and 1952. With the backlog of orders being filled, a massive conversion to trackless trolleys began changing the streets of Atlanta forever. On April 10th, 1949, the last streetcars made their final runs on route #19 to the Chattahoochee River.

The trackless trolley is an electric vehicle, a development of streetcar technology. It has the same electric propulsion systems as a streetcar and thus it also draws its electricity from overhead wires. The difference is that is has rubber tires and therefore needs a second overhead wire, used as a ground. A streetcar uses its steel wheel/steel rail connection as its electrical ground.

A trackless trolley requires no investment in rails, a substantial infrastructure cost savings over streetcars. And, it can also use the existing overhead wires already in place for streetcars. These factors caused Georgia Power to choose for the trackless trolley in 1937 as the replacement for streetcars.

Georgia Power and its successors had operated the transit system since 1902. The power business was a subsidiary of the transit systems that ran in many Georgia cities including Columbus, Marietta, Augusta, Macon, Savannah, and Athens. After a divestiture ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the system was purchased by the newly formed Atlanta Transit Company in 1950. Atlanta Transit was subsequently purchased in 1972 by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. (MARTA).

Georgia Power #1296 will be cosmetically restored and displayed as part of an Atlanta-oriented transportation exhibit.

 

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