Wandering around northwestern Atlanta

For the first two weekends of this past October, I had volunteered to house-sit my brother and sister-in-law's new house. Read that - babysit their three dogs. Well, seeing how the pups can survive sans human presence during business hours, I decided to take that time to do some exploring. I had first gone out to Austell, but after picking up the Autumn issue of Georgia Backroads magazine, I had quickly taken an interest in the route of the famous hijacking of that Western & Atlantic engine, "The General". Hence, the remainder of my visit ended up concentrating on the W&A, turned NC&StL, turned L&N, turned Seaboard System, turned CSX.

The traffic density at Austell, GA is nothing to sneeze at. A classic Conrail unit leads a butt-boat and a string of autoracks from Birmingham towards Inman Yard in Atlanta.
Making a radical change in location, I begin immersing myself in the W&A glory. I catch this southbound move of auto racks heading towards Allatoona just after passing through the south switch of the Emerson passing track behind this curve.
At a point about a mile north of the former Junta tower in Cartersville, where the L&N and the NC&St.L came together to head south to Atlanta, two UP units lead a CSX northbound heading for Chattanooga on the latter "Dixie Line". The Goodyear plant is behind me.
After doing some exploring around Kingston and Adairsville, I head back south between Cartersville and Emerson, to have this northbound nearly catch me off guard crossing the Etowah River.
The next morning I catch this southbound passing thru the interlocking on the south side of Acworth. My 200mm zoom lens, while giving each picture half-decent justice, didn't seem to reach in far enough. So after the slides returned back from Fuji Developing, I zoomed in deeply with the scanner. The increase in graininess warranted greyscaling, rendering these two shots even more fascinating. The color scans of these two are here:Acworth1 and Acworth2.
A southbound SD50 and a former UP C36-7 follow the kudzu-infested fill between Cartersville and Emerson.
Finding an excellent location is only half the battle in taking a great picture: In an acrobatic attempt to hang off of the bottom of the GA route 293 bridge to catch this northbound crossing the Etowah River, I had failed to meter the camera properly, and this is my best attempt to recover the overexposed slide. Needless to say, I will return at another time to redo this shot.
After the acrobatic attempt, I try to move south, only to hear another northbound calling signals. I hurriedly turn around, only to get stuck behind an ol' lady whom if would go any slower, she'd be going in reverse. Hence, another badly exposed shot (this one under) of four B36-7's and an SD40-2 hauling ass into Cartersville.
I quickly got the hint that the majority of the early afternoon would be a parade of northbounds, so I work my way up to Kingston to catch this AC4400 and an HCLX "SD45" passing the fascinating brick architecture of the business fronts. Cool water tower, too.
I finally plant myself in the exact position in which I had been trying to photograph something on top of the Etowah River bridge outside of Cartersville for days. So I wait. And get infected with poison oak, which as of this writing - 1.5 months later - am still treating. But I get the shots that I wanted. Another lesson learned - wear long pants if planning to romp in the weed-infested hillsides; screw the 100 degree, 100% humidity weather.
The next day, I snag a couple of southbounds passing this cool sign for Dobbins Air Force base outside of Smyrna.
Further north along the line at Kennesaw, I catch a set of SD40-2's heading south for Tilford Yard. This is the exact point where the great Civil War locomotive hijack began, and the new museum structure on the right will commemorate that activity, as well as many other transportation topics in the region (maybe even that PT Cruiser).
I finish off this day a little further north, in the town of Acworth. A wild rainbow of home and leased power heads north towards Lake Allatoona.
The old architecture in Acworth is simply fascinating, and it is refreshing to know that the owners of these places also have a respect for the historical buildings. As my parched mouth longs for a cold Coke, another CSX northbound plays with the waves of the old picture window glass.
My brother's house was safe. The dogs were alive. I shot several rolls of film. I was happy, and I was going home. Needless to say, I took the backroads about halfway home, and caught this "anti-CSX" train (all leased power) heading south on the latest alignment that NC&StL had engineered around Allatoona Lake.
While passing thru Emerson, I'm nearly blown out of the driver's seat when I spot CSX's geometry train waiting for another southbound to clear before proceeding north. After getting the proper roster shots, I position myself to get some action shots of the short train passing over the Etowah River Bridge.
I quickly realize that, should I be up to the challenge, I will be racing this train back home to Chattanooga via the W&A/NC&StL. The train slows to a stop just south of Adairsville to let a southbound get around it. I take my shot looking across this peaceful valley, wait for the southbound in town, and then back out of the race in favor of just getting home to my fiance' via I-75.


Last updated 11/28/02