The Crescent Route
Birmingham - Atlanta
This is a part of a bigger -- much bigger -- tour of Frograil's New Orleans to Washington, DC Norfolk Southern Crescent Route Tour. The overall tour is described here.
This segment of the Crescent Route tour has been written by John Moore, and extends 165.7 rail miles from downtown Birmingham to downtown Atlanta.
Contents And Navigation
John R. Moore. John did the on-the-ground research, wrote up the tour, and went thru the entire grinding process of making sure everything was correct. This is John Moore's tour.
Brandon Baxter. Provided a station list for Birmingham - Austell, as well as another one for New Orleans to Birmingham, which will hopefully be used in the future.
Tony Hill -- Webmaster -- the guy who makes it go. Any singular first person pronouns, unless explicitly excepted, refer to Tony. Plural first person pronouns refer to John Moore and Tony Hill, unless otherwise noted.
Frograil is a fairly large site, and as it gets larger and more comprehensive, it becomes a more valuable tool for railfans around the country and, indeed, around the world. However, the only way it can continue to grow is for folks like you to contribute material. Your contribution can be one favorite train watching site or a large, complex tour, but every and all contributions cumulatively add to the worth of Frograil as a railfan tool. Contact me here, and we'll work together.
The Railroad -- History. Birmingham was founded in 1871 at the junction of the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad (later known as the Alabama Great Southern, and now part of Norfolk Southern), and the North and South Railroad (which became the Louisville and Nashville, and today, part of the CSX system). The A&C had already built through Jones Valley, and several men associated with the N&S purchased the farms around the junction and planned the city, in an area still known as the Railroad "Reservation".
Originally, the streets crossed the tracks at grade, but in the 1920's, increasing automobile traffic led to calls for grade separation, and the Reservation was elevated, crossing over some streets. Viaducts were built over the tracks at other streets, and still other streets were cut off, and no longer connected from north to south.
It's important to realize that this segment of the tour follows a route originally laid by the Georgia Pacific Railway. The tracks are called the Birmingham East End (EE) District in Norfolk Southern timetables, and you will see many references to EE trackage and locations in this tour. This is a single main line track with numerous passing sidings. US-78, a portion of the old Bankhead Highway, parallels the railroad for almost all of this tour. Additionally, I-20 is never far from the route. Food, gas and lodging should not be a concern anywhere along this tour.
The Railroad -- Geography Even though you might feel you're in the deep south, you are actually still in the Appalachian Mountains thru this tour. If you've ever driven directly south out of Birmingham, you'll know what I mean. These aren't the very large mountains found in far southwestern Virginia, but they are plenty big enough to cause problems for the railroad surveying and engineering staffs in the 19th Century. However, today's Norfolk Southern has carried on the tradition of the Southern Railway's superior track maintenance and improvements programs. Trains can go quite fast, and are surprisingly quiet throughout the length of this entire tour.
While much of the route is easier to follow than the Piedmont Division north of the South Carolina border, there are still a few places where you'll be well away from the tracks. Other places, such as the tortuous route thru Anniston, illustrate that this is not a flatland railroad.
The Railroad -- Traffic. Traffic is mostly manifest and intermodal, but Amtrak's Crescent comes thru daily in each direction. Intermodal has grown dramatically, with traffic from the Kansas City Southern at Fort Worth connecting with NS at Meridian, and going on to Atlanta, being the new star of the show. You'll probably see no coal from Kentucky or the NS Appalachian Route, but you will have a good chance of seeing Powder River coal on its way to Plant Scherer south of Atlanta. This coal comes thru Memphis, and can get to Scherer by at least three routes, and, depending on traffic levels thru Columbus, Georgia, or Chattanooga, the EE can get none of the coal traffic or a bunch of it.
East of Austell, and on to Inman Yard in Atlanta, the heavy traffic coming south from Chattanooga is added.
Mapwork: Much of the tour is not easy if you have no detailed map for back country roads. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.
Photography Ratings: I'm now including photo ratings for crossings. Please note that these ratings are John's opinion of the photographic field available for pictures, rather than a subjective rating of photogenic/artsy characteristics of the site. All four quadrants of the crossing are evaluated, clockwise, from NE to NW. Each is rated from 1 to 4, with 1 being excellent and 4 being non-existent, either because of a severe drop off, wall of trees, private property, etc. An example would be NE4, SE1, SW3, NW3. This would be a fairly poor location except for AM shots from the southeast quadrant, which should be pretty wide open.
Abbreviations. Some phrases are used repeatedly in this tour, so I've developed some standard Frograil abbreviations:
AG. An at-grade crossing.
AGS. Norfolk Southern predecessor and Southern subsidiary Alabama Great Southern Railroad. You can still see a few NS locomotives sub-lettered "AGS" under the numbers on the cab.
CP. Control Point. A specific place at which something happens, e.g., crossovers, junctions, etc. On the EE, these are named.
EE. NS's Birmingham East End District. The line we'll follow between Birmingham and Austell, Georgia.
NAG. A not-at-grade crossing. Unless I mention otherwise, these are usually not worth the time and trouble to drive to.
NARL. Not a railfan location. This is because of any number of reasons, such as lousy photo ops, dangerous, no shoulder on a NAG bridge, etc. As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to avoid NARL's.
NFOG. Not found on the ground. The map(s) clearly show the existence of a feature, but it's not there in real life. NFOGs can be pretty common in rural areas.
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: I do not recommend or condone walking along the tracks, as this means trespassing or exposing yourself to danger. You will have to be creative, in some instances, to avoid trespassing while getting to the detailed locations included herein, but you will either have to be creative or not visit those sites. At no point in this tour guide, or in any other part of Frograil, is it recommended that you trespass or expose yourself to danger. If you are a fool and have a leg cut off (or worse), don't come crying to me: You have been warned. Trains are big, powerful, and often surprisingly quiet. Don't end up being a statistic.
Birmingham - Atlanta -- Site Listing
Birmingham -- Amtrak Station. From I-65 northbound, take exit 260B to 3rd Avenue North. Go 3 blocks east, and then take a right to go south on 14th Street. After 3 blocks, take a left onto Morris Street. Between 18th and 19th Streets, this tour begins at the elevated Amtrak station, but, at least in our humble opinion, this is hardly a railfan location. Besides being elevated, access to the tracks is only during boarding times. However, if you're going to go to Birmingham, this is the logical place to start a tour, and we plead guilty to tradition. Note that you are in the "Reservation" thru here.
The mile point is 799.0. You are 799 miles from Washington, DC, on the Southern's historic Crescent Route.
Birmingham -- Arrington Viaduct. For a far better location, turn right out of the station parking lot, and go to 19th Street. Turn right and pass under the Reservation, and then turn left onto 1st Avenue South. One block later, at 20th Street, bear right of the cut in the middle of the street, and continue up the slope. Incidentally, this cut, which still has rails in it, is a former Central of Georgia right-of-way.
At the next block, which used to be 21st Street, but is now called Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard, turn left onto a viaduct that crosses above the Reservation's tracks. This is a one-way street northbound, and there is on-street metered parking on the viaduct itself.
The west side of the viaduct provides a good view of the passenger terminal tracks. Amtrak's Crescent makes one stop each way daily. Also, you can see down the length of the Reservation to the area of 14th Street, where the CSX (ex-L&N) tracks then diverge to the south, and the NS (ex-AGS) main line arrives from Tuscaloosa. This latter is the line we'll be following to the east, but the view to the east from the viaduct is obstructed by other viaducts. The several tracks running under the Arrington viaduct are as follows (south to north):
NS main #1
NS main #2 (AGS District)
CSX main #2
CSX main #1
Birmingham -- 32nd Street North. On Arrington viaduct, move to the right (east) lane, and turn right at the foot of the viaduct onto 1st Avenue North. Go 3 blocks to 24th Street and turn right, and go back up and over the Reservation tracks. There is no parking on this viaduct. Just east of the viaduct is US-31/US-280/Stephens Expressway. Just before that overpass, you can see the CSX tracks peeling off to the north to head for Boyles Yard.
At the bottom of the viaduct, take a left onto 2nd Avenue South and go 0.7 mile to 32nd Street and turn left. After one block, there is a CSX line (ex-SCL, exx-SAL), and you'll cross it and go another block north. Cross the tracks, and park on the northeast quad of the crossing. Photo ratings are excellent: NE1, SE1, SW1, NW3.
The single track on the south is the EE main, which we'll follow to Austell, where the Alabama Division ends and the Georgia Division begins. Amtrak takes the crossover west of the street crossing to enter the double track that lies to the north, which is the AGS District main line. The northernmost track at the crossing is a yard lead. There is a crossover at 27th Street which Amtrak uses to move from the AGS main #1 to CSX main #2, which is how the Crescent enters the passenger station. The crossover is not accessible to the public.
From 32nd Street to Irondale, the AGS and EE mains parallel each other. The tracks pass through a warehouse and industrial district in which many businesses still ship/receive via rail. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the industries are switched frequently and regularly. While there are several AG crossings thru the area, there are relatively few safe places to take photos. We do not recommend the area as a railfan location.
Birmingham -- 5th Avenue South. Return 1 block south to 1st Avenue South; take a left, and continue eastward to 41st Street. The CSX track will be on your right. Take a left on 41st, cross the AGS double main, and then turn right onto 1st Avenue North. Travel 1.5 miles and turn right on 55th Street. [NOTE: The streets are at odd alignments in this area, as the main roads have turned more easterly to follow the valley. It is easy to get on the wrong street because of these odd alignments. Also, there is a 55th Street South and a 55th Place South. There's also a 5th Avenue South, 5th Court South, and 5th Terrace South, and many other such confusing names. Be alert!]
One block south of 1st Avenue North is 1st Avenue South, and just one block south of that is 5th Avenue South. The NS tracks lie along the north side of 5th Avenue South for several blocks from this point, with grade-level access for about 5 blocks to the east.
Irondale. From 5th Avenue South, go north via 59th Street, cross the tracks, and turn right onto Georgia Road. After 0.7 miles, you'll pass under I-20. After 1.6 miles from 59th Street, the CSX track (now operated by lessee Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad, an Omnitrax operation), the AGS tracks, and the EE track, together with Georgia Road, come very close to each other to squeeze thru Red Mountain, in a place called Red Gap. 2.3 miles from 59th Street, Georgia Road curves sharply to the right, and then passes under 3 railroad bridges, Between the second and third bridges, take a left onto 1st Avenue South, and enter the city of Irondale.
As you approach the crossing at 20th Street, there is a visitor center on the left (north), between the street and the tracks. There is a caboose here, and a small observation platform which, in November 2005, had flagging tape across the steps to deny access. On the north side of the tracks there is an observation pavilion. The AGS double main tracks here become the leads entering the south end of Norris Yard. Arriving and departing trains, as well as some yard movements can be viewed. The EE single main is the line south of the yard leads. This is MP 793.
The Earnest G. Norris Yard is one of NS's modern, super-duper-sized classification facilities. All traffic from both Chattanooga and Atlanta enters Norris, and funnels west and northwest from the yard. The yard/terminal area is completely off-limits to fans, so we will not cover it further in this tour.
There is a restaurant across the street from the pavilion -- the Whistle Stop Café, which was made famous by Fannie Flagg's book (and later, the movie) Fried Green Tomatoes. The Café has recently begun opening on Saturday's, which is good news for railfans. Gas and fast food are available on US-78, about 2 blocks south on 18th or 19th Street.
Irondale -- Norris Junction. Leave Irondale on 1st Avenue South, going east with the track on your left. The road soon curves right, crosses a little-used industrial siding, then the ATN, and climbs a hill to meet US-78 (turn right where you see the Dead End sign), a total of 1.3 miles from 20th Street. Go east (left) just 0.4 miles to a left on John Rogers Road -- look for the Birmingham Race Course sign. You'll cross a short bridge over the ATN, and another bridge which is longer. The latter goes over the EE. Park beyond the bridge, and you'll have good viewing both east and west. To the west, the south tracks are the EE, and those to the north are the eastbound departure tracks from Norris Yard. To the east, those tracks all come together at Norris Junction, but the actual junction is out of sight.
Leeds -- Anderson Street. Return to US-78, and continue east for another 5.3 miles to the junction with I-20. In this interval, the tracks are accessible only at a couple of points, and those do not offer good views, or they have safety issues. CP LOVICK, at MP 787.7 lies in this segment east of Floyd Bradford Road, and it marks the beginning of the EE single main line track beyond Birmingham and Norris Yard. Beyond the intersection of US-78 and I-20, the railroad and all roads are definitely strangers. About a mile from this intersection, I-20 is crossed by the EE track, and just east of that bridge is the beginning of a passing siding, at a point named "Henry Ellen". This is MP 783.7, and the area is inaccessible without trespassing.
Continue east on US-78 (which becomes Parkway Drive as it enters Leeds) for another 2.6 miles, and you'll enter Leeds. As Parkway makes a major swing to the right, there is a Food World/shopping center on the left. Instead of curving to the right, go straight on Anderson Street. In 2 blocks, you'll be at an AG crossing of the EE track. The passing siding from Henry Ellen ends just west of the crossing at LEEDS, MP 781.9. Between Henry Ellen and Leeds, and out of sight well to the west, is the lead to the Central of Georgia District. If you are going towards Columbus, Georgia, you can take the Frograil Central of Georgia Tour, which is here. The junction is referred to as "Central Junction", and the CP is CENTRAL, at MP 782.8.
Leeds -- Railroad Avenue. Return to Parkway Drive/US-78, turn left, and go 0.1 mile to an intersection where AL-119 begins to the right. Turn left, however, onto Ashville Road, and go 1 block to a right turn onto Railroad Avenue. The latter runs for several blocks along the tracks, and there are parking spaces and open views all along the street. There is a defect detector at MP 781.8, just east of the Ashville Road grade crossing. Be alert, however, because there's another defect detector on the ex-CofG, at MP 425.2. Listen to the recording to be sure which one you're hearing.
If you continue north via Ashville Road, in 2 miles you'll come to the I-20 interchange, and there is plenty of fast food, gas, motel, and other life support.
Leeds -- Southern Station. At 9th Street, take a left and go over the tracks. The station is now the Chamber of Commerce (933 Thornton Avenue). There is a deck with benches where railfans can sit trackside. You're facing into the sun most of the time, but it is a comfortable place to watch the action.
Leeds -- Coleman. Beyond the city of Leeds, all the way to the edge of the Atlanta area at Douglasville, Georgia, the tour is mostly rural, and is characterized by areas where the tracks are inaccessible. There are also stretches where the road runs along the tracks, so it's either feast or famine for the railfan.
From the station, cross back across the tracks on 9th Street, then take a left to continue east via Parkway Drive/US-78. After 0.25 mile, you will pass under a bridge carrying the Central of Georgia District, and will then reach the intersection with AL-25/Dunnavant Road Southeast. Further along, US-78 crosses over the tracks on a NAG/NARL. Where the tracks and highway once again come together, take the dirt road to the right. This is Coleman Crossing Road, but don't be surprised if there is no sign. The road leads to a crossing (surprise, surprise) at CP COLEMAN, MP 778.1, and is the start of a passing siding to the east.
Brompton. Beyond Coleman, via US-78, you'll come to a Y-intersection. The left leg (Kelly Creek Road) leads to I-20, which is about 1/3 of a mile to the north. The intersection is signed for I-20 to the left. Continue straight on US-78, and 1/4 mile after the Y, take a right onto Trails End Lane. The crossing is wide open: NE1, SE1, SW1, NW2. Visible to the east is CP BROMPTON, MP 776.2, where the siding from Coleman ends.
Cooks Springs. Beyond Brompton via US-78, the highway crosses over the EE on a NAG/NARL, and wanders far away from the tracks. When you finally get to a major intersection (Mountain Top Loop to the south, and Cook Springs (note the variable spelling of Cook/Cooks)), take a left onto Cook Springs Road. After 1/4 mile, go under the tracks, take an immediate right onto Railroad Drive, and the road quickly climbs to track level.
The photo ratings are 1 from the north and 2 from south of the tracks. The latter location can be reached by taking a right on Church Street from Cook Springs Road before going under the tracks. If you're driving a big RV, you might want to avoid the underpass on Cook Springs Road, as it is narrow and low. There is a defect detector here, at MP 771.7.
Eden -- Roberts Mill Pond Road. Return to US-78 and turn left to continue east. After 1/4 mile, there is a view of the tracks on a fill that leads to a trestle before the line passes through Cook Springs tunnel. Unfortunately, there is neither public access nor open viewing of the tunnel, so it is not a railfan location. Therefore, continue east on US-78 until it joins I-20, and whiz eastward. You'll miss a siding between ROBERTS and HOLT, but that can't be helped. At exit 156 for Eden/Pell City, get off the freeway and back on US-78.
This location is 3/4 mile off US-78, so if you're pressed for time, you can skip it and continue on to the next location. After less than 1/4 mile, take Roberts Mill Pond Road to the left, and drive 0.75 miles to the crossing. The crossing is wide open, and the view to the east is better than that to the west.
Eden -- Wolf Creek Road. Get back to US-78 take a right, and head further towards Pell City. Even though you think you're going to go east, the highway here is actually dead south, at least until a broad, 90° turn to the east. You'll note Wolf Creek Road going off to the northeast -- disregard that. A little further on, however, you'll see Wolf Creek Road South, and you should take the right to follow that road.
Photo ratings at the AG crossing on Wolf Creek are, well, kind of nice: NE1,SE1,SW1,NW1. MP 766 is on the west side of the crossing.
Pell City -- 1st Avenue South. Return to US-78 and turn right to continue east. After 1.5 miles, turn right again onto 15th Street South. Do not expect to see a sign here, but it's the first right turn past the high school. After 1 block, turn left onto 1st Avenue South (signposts are, at best, intermittent). 1st Avenue runs alongside the north side of the track for 8 blocks, with open access along the entire length.
Pell City -- Hardwick Road. At the east end of 1st Avenue, take a left onto 23rd Street, and then a right onto US-78. [NOTE: At the next intersection, you can turn left onto US-231, and drive up thru Pell City towards I-20. There is extensive life support near the interstate.] As you continue west on US-78 (which may be signposted as Cogswell Road), there is a defect detector at MP 762.9. The area of the detector is inaccessible, but you'll certainly hear it if a train goes by the detector. Two miles east of 23rd Street, take a right onto Hardwick Road. The crossing is in less than 1/4 mile.
Photo ratings are very good, at NE1, SE1, SW2, NW3.
Seddon. Further east on US-78 for 1.2 miles, take a right onto Seddon Road. The crossing is 1/4 mile, and there are signals here. Photo ratings reflect the fact that this is a dead NE/SW and NW/SE crossing: N4, E1, S1, W4.
Lincoln -- Lomar Road. From the Seddon Road crossing, head back to US-78, take a right and you'll go under I-20. Continue east on US-78, and cross the Coosa River. The railroad bridge is to your left, but the older, narrow highway bridge has absolutely no place to stop or walk. It is, however, possible to pull off the road east of the bridge. When you've traveled 2 miles from I-20, take a left onto Oxford Road. Contrary to MapQuest's depiction, Oxford runs only 0.2 mile and ends at a dirt driveway ahead, and the paved Lomar Road to the left. Lomar has an AG crossing of the main track and a siding track that began further west at COOSA.
Photo ratings are excellent all around: NE1, SE1, SW1, NW1 !
Lincoln. Return to US-78, and turn left to continue east 1.1 miles to CR-207/Honda Drive/Blue Springs Road. Turn left, and go 0.3 miles to cross the tracks on a NAG bridge. The bridge has wide shoulders. Just beyond the bridge, turn right on McLain Avenue to drive along the north side of the track at control point EMBRY, MP 756.1. This used to be the end of the siding that began at COOSA, but it's now the west end of a Honda Motors plant, and there are several tracks to service the plant. CR-207/Blue Springs Road will head to the north, and you should take it a further 1.25 miles to a right turn onto Colvin Road. Note that MapQuest and other maps show McLain Avenue continuing on into Lincoln from Blue Springs Road, but that is NFOG. This is also where the Honda plant's perimeter fence turns away from CR-207.
Follow Colvin Road 1.25 miles to a T, and turn right onto Field Road (there will probably not be road signs present). This road will wind south thru a small community to reach the east end of the Honda complex. Bear to the left at the tracks, and follow the road into the old business section of the town of Lincoln. Incidentally, the road paralleling the tracks is the vestigial remains of McLain Road, but it's unclear what the name of it is today. You'll pass CP LINCOLN, at MP 754.0. The depot is on your left (so it must have been moved at one point), and is now used as a senior citizens' center. There is good access to the tracks from the edge of the Honda plant through the business district.
You can turn right and cross the tracks at Magnolia, and then take an immediate left onto Railroad Avenue, but this is little more than an alley, and viewing is such that it is NARL.
Lincoln -- Lost Road. As we leave Lincoln, the roads are sometimes paved, sometimes not, and often narrow and winding. There is no need to drive quickly here, as there is too much winding about to follow a train. If you are following a train and want to keep reasonably close, you may prefer Route Option A. The main tour, however, follows Route Option B.
A. For you guys in a hurry, from the Magnolia Street Crossing in Lincoln, go south on Magnolia/CR-433 to US-78, turn left, and go all the way to Eastaboga, to a left on CR-005 (signpost)/CR-93 (map)/ John Wills Avenue (map).
B. From Magnolia Street in Lincoln go south over the railroad, and take a left onto 2nd Avenue. After 0.75 miles to a T, turn left onto AL-77 -- there is probably no sign. You'll go over a NAG/NARL overpass, and after 0.4 miles from the 2nd Avenue turn, take a right onto CR-431/Lost Road. This is a dirt/gravel road, and after 1.4 miles, the road crosses the track just east of a detector, at MP 751.8. The photo ratings are NE2, SE1, SW1, NW1.
Martins Mill -- Jackson Trace Road. To move forward along Option B, continue east via Lost Road for 1 mile. You will reach a T with Jackson Trace Road. There is no signpost. This road shows as CR-456 on the DeLorme atlas. The Martins Mill community is about a mile north of this intersection, and the crossing of Jackson Trace is 1/2 mile north. An excellent crossing for photos: NE1, SE1, SW1, NW1.
Eastaboga -- Wills Farm Road. To move forward along Option B, travel a very short distance north on Jackson Trace, and take a right onto Street. Mary Road. Go 1.3 miles to a T, and take another right. This is Wills Farm Road, but there is no signpost. Go 1.1 mile to another excellent crossing, at MP 749.0. Photo ratings are NE1, SE1, SW2, NW1.
Eastaboga -- CR-005. Continue 0.5 mile to US-78 and turn left to continue east. After 0.9 mile, you reach CR-005 (signposted)/CR-93 (on the map)/John Wills Avenue (on the map -- to the south)/Mudd Street (on the map -- to the north). Since CR-005 is signed, you should look for that. Also, the street is the boundary between Talladega and Calhoun Counties. At this point, options A and B have joined to continue east.
As an aside, both AL-77 in Lincoln, and CR-005 at Eastaboga intersect with I-20 to the south. Both also access the world-famous Talladega International Speedway, which is also to the south.
The crossing of CR-005 is just to the north of US-78, and is wide open on all quadrants. The tracks are dead east-west.
Eastaboga -- Fish Hatchery Lane. One mile to the east of CR-005 via US-78 is an intersection with Fish Hatchery Lane. Take a left and go north to the crossing. Photo ratings are: NE2, SE3, SW1, NW3. The tracks are just starting to bend from dead east-west to somewhat NE/SW.
Welborn. One half mile further east on US-78 from Fish Hatchery Lane, take a left onto AL-202. The tracks are well to the north, out of sight, and inaccessible. The west end of a passing siding (GRAY, at MP 746.4) is in that invisible area. After 2 miles on AL-202, you pass the entrance to the Anniston Army Depot. Near here, and also invisible, is the east end of the siding from Gray, at BYNUM, MP 742.9. just to the east of that invisible control point is a defect detector at MP 741.6, which is also invisible. The railroad runs along the edge of, or just inside, the Depot's boundary, and is inaccessible until it clears the east side of the depot.
About 4.5 miles after getting on AL-202, follow it thru a T intersection onto a 4-lane divided highway, which is the "new" AL-202. After 1.2 miles, take a left onto CR-109/Bynum-Leatherwood Road. After 0.7 miles, you'll cross the tracks on a NAG/NARL as they exit the east side of the Depot. A road to the right beyond the bridge curves around to take you trackside (and into the Depot if you go too far). Continue along CR-109 for another 0.7 miles to a traffic light and turn right onto Eulaton Road, which is not signposted. Eulaton is a major road in this area, but is narrow.
After about 0.5 mile from the turn onto Eulaton, the tracks become obvious on the right, and run along the street. There is easy, open access to them for photography, but be sure to pull well off the narrow road. The MP 739 sign post is between west Park Drive and Tillman Avenue. Eulaton will join Morrisville Road from the northwest, and at about 2.2 miles from your turn onto Eulaton, you reach a 3-way intersection (you're on the west end of a T. Take a right onto Hunter Street, and drive 0.3 miles to an excellent crossing: NE1, SE1, SW1, NW2. A couple of blocks east of this crossing is CP LETCHERS, at MP 736.7.
Anniston -- Station. Go back up Hunter to Morrisville Road, take a right, and go 0.8 miles to the end of the road at a T intersection at Clydesdale Avenue. If you're alert and careful, you might be able to discern the roadbed of the L&N line that used to go up to Gadsen. Those tracks were located between Lehman Avenue and Pipe Street.
[Webmaster's Note: At this point, your humble Webmaster would like to interrupt John Moore's excellent dialog as he brings us thru this tour. There are some railroad geographic issues that should be mentioned here. The tracks mentioned in the previous paragraph are long gone, but there are other tracks in the Anniston area that are still in existence and active. There are 2 NS lines in town, and they make a rather tall, narrow "X" thru town, with the crossing of the X just to the south of the present day station.
There is an old Southern line that comes down from Rome, Georgia, crosses the Crescent Route close to the station, and exits the city on the southwest. Today, that line still exists from Fort McClellan, goes almost north-south thru Anniston, and heads further southwest towards Talladega and Childersburg. The Crescent Route comes to the northeast out of Eastaboga, bears easterly off Eulaton Road, and then swings significantly southeasterly to the station. Further south, the main line swings back to the northeast, to follow the east-northeast bent all the way into Atlanta. This is perhaps confusing to read, but a quick look at Steam Powered Video's Southern States Atlas, DeLorme's Atlas, or MapQuest will show you what's going on.]
At the T intersection at Clydesdale Avenue, take a right, cross the tracks again, and at the next block (at a traffic light in a curve), turn left onto 10th Avenue. After about 0.6 mile, you'll cross the EE (NAG/NARL), and then at about 1 mile from the last turn, you'll cross the NS Alabama N-Line coming south from Ft. McClellan. After another 0.3 mile, take a right onto Noble Street. There is a street name sign on the traffic light bracket over the street. Incidentally, 3 blocks down Noble Street, on the left, is purportedly the world's largest office chair, which was seen on the Fall 2005 season of The Amazing Race.
After 0.5 mile, stay in the right lane, and take the "Right Turn Only" right onto 4th Street. Go one block to cross the tracks. The Amtrak Station is on your left.
Oxford -- Moore Street. From the Amtrak station, return east across the tracks to Noble Street and turn right (south). Go 1.4 miles to east P Street (passing MP 734 opposite east M Street); turn left one block to South Quintard Avenue/US-431/SR-21. Turn right, cross the hill and the EE -- CP LARDENT, MP 733.4, lies at the foot of the hill to your right.
One mile from P Street, turn left at the first traffic light, which is Snow Street. You are now in the town of Oxford; life support is available along US-431 between this point and I-20, 1 mile ahead.
Go 0.2 miles and turn left on Moore Street to an AG crossing, with photo ratings of NE-1, SE-1, SW-1, NW-1.
Oxford -- Hillyer Robinson Parkway. On the north side of the tracks, turn right on Butler Street to a T intersection with Hillyer-Robinson Parkway. Note that older maps may show this as Industrial Parkway. Take a right across the AG crossing, where the photo ratings are NE-2, SE-1, SW-1, NW-2.
De Armanville. Continue east on US-78 1 mile to an overpass marked to I-20; go under the overpass, turn right to loop back to east side of overpass. Turn right (north) onto the overpass; this is Golden Springs Road (no signposts). Proceed 1.1 mile to a light at Greenbrier-Dear Road, and turn right. You pass through a residential area, with a few stop signs along the way. In this area, the track passes the DeArmanville detector at MP 730.2, which is inaccessible from the roads. Continue along Greenbrier-Dear 1.6 miles to a T intersection; turn right and go 0.4 miles more to the AG crossing.
The photo ratings are NE-2, SE-1, SW-1, NW-1. Note that there are 2 tracks here: The mainline, and the siding from CP DEARMANVILLE, MP 729.1, which can just be made out to the west.
Note that the railroad refers to De Armanville as one word.
De Armanville -- Kelly Lynn Drive. Just 0.1 mile beyond the crossing, turn left onto De Armanville Road. After 0.3 miles, Kelly Lynn Drive intersects from the north (left). The AG crossing on this side road is photo rated NE-1, SE-2, SW-1, NW-1.
MP 728 is on the left of the crossing.
De Armanville -- CP Ardley. Go back to De Armanville Road and take a left to continue northeast. The road runs alongside the track for another 1 mile to an AG crossing. The photo ratings are NE-4, SE-2, SW-1, NW-4.
This is CP ARDLEY, MP 727.1.
Choccolocco -- Erickton Drive. Further on De Armanville Road, continue straight onto what is now called Old Choccolocco Road. 1.1 mile from CP ARDLEY, there is an AG crossing. MP 726 stands at the crossing. The road has narrow shoulders at this point, so for safety reasons I don't recommend this for viewing. Go another 0.2 miles and turn left on Erickton Drive, alongside Harmony Baptist Church. The AG crossing here is much safer and more open than the last noted crossing. NE-1, SE-2, SW-1, NW-1.
Choccolocco. Turn right onto CR-55, which is usually identified at Choccolocco Road. For 1.4 miles, CR-55 closely parallels the tracks as they run through the community of Choccolocco, with a few pull-off spots. As CR-55 curves left away from the track, turn right on CR-22, Old Choccolocco Road. The AG crossing is photo rated NE-2, SE-4 (private property), SW-1, NW-2.
Cleburne. After 0.25 mile, turn left onto Iron City cutoff; go 1.6 mile to a T at Dry Hollow Road; there is no signpost here. A sign opposite the crossing identifies White Oak Vineyards, open Saturdays only. Turn left 0.5 mile to intersect AL-9. From this intersection, turn right (south) on AL-9 for 1.6 mile to join US-78. (There is an AG crossing straight ahead 0.2 mile, in the community of Iron City, but access is poor and not worth the effort. There is also a NAG to the left (north) on AL-9, but the older bridge is too narrow for safe viewing.) Turning left (east) onto US-78, the road winds into the low mountains marking some of the southern reaches of the Appalachians.
After 1.5 miles, near the top of the hill, take the left turn signposted for AL-281, Cheaha State Park, and the Talladega Scenic Drive. At the end of the ramp, proceed straight ahead on the road marked FS-500. After 0.1 mile, you reach an AG crossing, beyond which is the parking area for Trailhead FS-500 of the Pinhoti Trail. "Pinhoti" is a local Indian word for the wild turkey, and a turkey foot blaze is used to mark parts of the trail. This trail runs from this point northeast to the Georgia state line, and southwestward to a point south of Talladega. A part of the Eastern Continental Divide Trail, it will eventually serve as a feeder into the Appalachian Trail. More info can be found at http://www.alabamatrail.com.
There is a good, open view of the track as it approaches this point from the west, and a slightly less good view to the east as the track emerges from the woods. You're in the Talladega National Forest here. This trailhead would be a great place to wait for trains, as it has an open, grassy (think meadow, not lawn) area for sitting, walking, or enjoying the day while waiting, and virtually no road traffic. Be aware, though, there are managed hunts in this area in the late fall and early winter, and the parking area may be occupied by hunters' or hikers' vehicles.
There is a detector (Cleburne, MP 718.2) a short distance east, but it is not accessible. AL-281, the Skyline Motorway, crosses US-78 on an overpass and runs southward to Mt. Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama, at 2407 feet above sea level. There is a state park there with restaurant and lodging facilities. See http://www.alapark.com.
Heflin -- Oxford Street. Return to US-78 via the same ramp and turn left (east). Proceed 1.9 mile to a left turn on Bedwell Street. Go 0.6 mile and turn left onto Oxford Street (no signpost), up a short, steep rise to an AG crossing, photo ratings NE-3, SE-3, SW-1, NW-2. The next crossing is much better for fanning and photos, but if you need to get trackside in a hurry, this will do.
Heflin -- Owens Circle. Continue across the track 0.7 mile to Owens Circle, on the right (Dollar General store). Owens crosses the track (photo rating: all quadrants-1) to reach US-78. Groceries and fast food are available to the right (south), and gas/convenience stores to the left (east). This is the town of Heflin, seat of Cleburne County.
Heflin -- Oxford Street East. Continue on Oxford Street along the north side of the track, passing CP HEFLIN, MP 716.3. This is the west end of a siding that runs east to CP OWENS, MP 714.1. 0.7 mile beyond Owens Circle, Oxford Street bears right to cross the tracks, photo NE-4, SE-1, SW-1, NW-1.
Edwardsville -- Oxford Road. The road ahead becomes CR-66, although you won't see a sign for a while. Most maps seem to show this as Oxford Road still. The road parallels the track for about 1 mile before they separate. Continue to an AG crossing 4.5 mile from Owens Circle; MP 712 stands by the crossing. CP OWENS lies in this area, but is not accessible. Photo ratings at the crossing are NE-2, SE-4, SW-2, NW-2.
Edwardsville -- Dial Mill Road. After about 0.8 mile past the Oxford Road crossing, turn left at a T intersection onto US-78 east. Go 0.75 mile to pass under the EE and immediately turn right onto Depot Street, which climbs quickly to grade level. Go 0.2 mile and turn right on Bridge Street/Abernathy Bridge Road. This is a wood-deck bridge crossing over the track. CP EDWARDSVILLE, the west end of a siding, lies between US-78 and the bridge.
Continue east on Depot Street 0.2 mile to a tee-intersection, turn left 1 block to US-78, and turn right. Go 1.3 miles to a right turn on Dial Mill Road/CR-450. Proceed 0.6 mile to AG crossing. Note that this crossing is signed with crossbucks only. There are no flashing lights, bells, etc., so be alert at all times. Listen for the defect detector at MP 707.3 to the east, but you probably won't hear a detector to the west.
The photo ratings are N-1, E-1, S-2, W-3, as the tracks and road form a distinct X rather than a cross.
Fruithurst. Return to US-78 and turn right. After 0.6 mile, the EE reaches the highway and parallels it for about 1 mile; there are a few pull-offs in this stretch, but the ground between highway and rail is usually overgrown. CP FOSTER, MP 708.4, the east end of the siding from CP EDWARDSVILLE, is not visible from the road, nor is the detector at MP 707.3. Continue along US-78 about 3.5 mile from CR-450 to enter the town of Fruithurst. Turn right one block beyond 5th Street West, on an unnamed street, marked as CR-33. Go 0.25 mile to reach the tracks.
This AG crossing sports photo ratings of NE-2, NW-1, S-2
Muscadine. Return to US-78 and turn right (east). Go 2.9 mile to CR-49 and turn right. After 1.1 mile to reach an AG crossing, you'll be rewarded with an excellent photo location. The photo ratings are all-1's -- excellent. You are just beyond the Muscadine post office here. MP 702 stands a little east of the crossing.
Hooper. Use CR-49 to return to US-78; turn right, and go 2.1 miles to cross the Georgia state line. At 3.2 miles from CR-49, you will reach the Lighthouse Church on the right (south) side of the road; the building looks like a small office, not a church with a steeple. Just beyond the Lighthouse church, turn right onto Liner Road, which is dirt except where it runs on a short segment of an old alignment of US-78. Go 0.2 mile to an AG crossing at the west end of the railroad bridge over the Tallapoosa River.
The photo ratings are NE-2, SE-1, SW-3, NW-3.
Tallapoosa -- Providence Church Road. Return to US-78 and turn right. Continue 1.6 miles and turn right onto Riverside Road / Old Hwy 78. Go 0.3 miles to a tee-intersection and turn right onto Providence Church Road (no signposts). After 0.5 miles, you reach an AG crossing, photo NE-1, SE-1, SW-1, NW-2. MP 697 stands a few yards east of the road crossing, and a detector, MP 697.9, is almost a mile back to the west.
Tallapoosa -- Downtown. Reverse course (pass the tee-intersection) 0.7 mile and bear right onto West Atlanta Highway. After 0.5 mile, Meadow Street marks the beginning of the downtown area of Tallapoosa; the track is wide open from this point into the business district.
You will pass MP 696 as you enter the town. At US-78 turn right, 0.1 miles to the business district (centered around US-78 and GA 100). Through Tallapoosa, Temple, Bremen, Villa Rica and Douglasville, the track generally runs through the center of the town, with businesses to the south and residential areas to the north of the track. Once east of Douglasville, the sprawl of suburban Atlanta overwhelms both sides of the track.
In Tallapoosa, US-78 lies on the north side of the track and a business district is to the south. CP TALLAPOOSA, MP 695.2, is at the east end of the downtown area, marking the west end of a siding. Gas, food, and groceries are available. Good photo opportunities.
Tallapoosa -- CP HUBBARD. Leave town on US-78 east; 0.6 miles to Golf Course Road on the right. This forms a loop, paralleling the track for about 2.5 miles before returning to US-78. In late 2005, however, the loop was interrupted by road construction a short distance from its west end. Continue on US-78 for 1.5 miles. Pine Grove Road bears off to the right, passing between the studio of WKNG radio on its right and Pine Grove Baptist Church and cemetery on its left. Go 0.5 mile to reach the EE track and follow the paved road to the right 0.5 mile to control point HUBBARD, MP 692.7. This is the east end of the siding that began at TALLAPOOSA.
Budapest. The road continues alongside the track to the aforementioned construction zone at MP 694. Photo access is generally good along the length of this road, but only along the north (road) side of the track. Return to US-78 at Pine Grove church and turn right. After 2.8 mile (crossing the track NAG in the interim), turn left on Waco School Road. just beyond what was the school (now the office of WGRR-West Georgia Recovery and Restoration) the pavement ends. Waco School Road continues as a dirt road; proceed 0.2 mile from the pavement, and turn left on Nitra Road (paved). You reach an AG crossing after 0.3 mile, photo NE 2, SE 1, SW 1, NW 1. Note that this is another crossing with only crossbucks extant. You must be alert, but you can get some help from the defect detector at MP 689.0 to the east.
Budapest -- Gold Kist. Return to Waco School Road (dirt) and turn left. Go 0.2 mile, until the road and track come together; there is a detector here, MP 689.0. Go another 0.2 mile, until you intersect a paved road that enters a Gold Kist facility with a storage yard, over an AG crossing.
Photos: NE-3, SE-3, SW-3, NW-3. The intersection is actually wide open, but there is virtually no room between Waco School Road (on the south side) and the track, and the north side is private property of the Gold Kist yard. While not specifically posted "no trespassing", there is a sign warning of 24-hour surveillance, so it's probably a good idea to discourage access on that side. We do NOT recommend you hang around at this location for more than a very short time.
Waco -- King Street. Take the paved road south 1 block to US-78 and turn left. Go 0.6 mile and turn left on King Street which ends in a T intersection after only 1 block. Turn left onto unsigned road/King Street, and go 0.2 mile to a crossing. Photo ratings are: NE 1, SE 4, SW 4, NW 2.
Note that considerable variety exists in this area as relates to street names, depending on which map(s) you may be trying to use. Follow the instructions above relative to turns and distances, and you'll be fine.
Waco -- Clayton Road. Retrace your route along the unsigned road, passing King Street and reaching US-78 0.6 mile from the crossing. Turn left on US-78, and after 1/4 mile, turn left on Clayton Road. The AG crossing here is photo rated NE 2, SE 3, SW 3, NW 2.
Bremen. Continue east on US-78 toward Bremen, 1.3 mile to US-27. Food, gas, and supplies are available along US-27 south of US-78. From the intersection of US-78 and US-27, go north on US-27 0.3 mile and turn right on Hayes-Glass Drive (not signposted, but Hayes-Glass Church stands just around the curve). Go 600 feet to a tee-intersection, turn left onto Tallapoosa Street alongside the track at MP 686.
After 0.5 mile you are in downtown Bremen, passing a storage track on the north side of the EE. US-78 lies along the south side of the track. There is easy access on both sides of the track west of the town center (US-27Business), but US-78 is a two-lane road; be careful stopping along the highway and watch out for the auto traffic. Photo opportunities are very good. Control point BREMEN, MP 685.0, lies near the east end of town, and is the west end of a siding.
Bremen -- East. Leave Bremen via US-78 east, and 0.6 mile from US-27Business turn left on Temple Road. This is not the road which passes under the EE, but is the next road, up the hill a little beyond that underpass. After 0.5 mile, you reach an AG crossing of the main and siding; photo N 1, E 1, S 3, W 1. This crossing is sometimes blocked for extended periods. One day while John was researching this tour, 3 successive trains blocked this crossing for almost 2 hours; on another day, they broke a train over the crossing to keep it open. If the crossing is blocked, follow route option A; the main tour continues on route option B.
Route Option A: Backtrack 0.1 mile from the crossing to Cross Street on the left and take it one block to US-78; turn left. Go 0.9 mile and turn left on Cashtown Road. Go 0.5 mile to reach the bridge at the end of route B.
Route Option B: Cross the track and continue 0.6 mile to Reid Road; crossing is 30 yards or so to your right. Photo ratings NE 2, SE 1, SW 1, NW 2. Continue along Temple Road 0.3 mile to the intersection with Cashtown Road. Turn right to reach the track and NAG bridge. There are wide shoulders, and you can stop on the shoulder or, if you plan to stay a while, park on the grass at either end of the bridge.
Just east of this bridge is control point SEWELL, MP 682.7, which is the east end of the siding that began in Bremen.
Temple -- Zion Hill. Immediately north of the Cashtown Road bridge, turn right on Liberty Church Road, go 2.3 mile (passing SEWELL), and turn right on Zion Hill Church Road (dirt). There is a detector, MP 680.6, a few yards east of the crossing (crossbucks only).
Temple. Zion Hill Church Road rejoins
Liberty Church Road in 0.5 mile, crossing (crossbucks only) the EE as it reaches
Liberty Church Road. 0.4 mile further along Liberty Church Road, turn
right on Little Vine Road and go 1.7 mile to a T intersection with GA-113 / West
Johnson Street and turn right. Map software shows a couple of crossings
south of Little Vine, but they are NARL. After 1.1 mile, you are in what
remains of downtown Temple. Bypassed by both US-78 and I-20, there is
little left of the town, but subdivisions for Atlanta commuters are beginning to
grow up. There is a small grocery store in town. Control point
TEMPLE, MP 677.5, sits at the
north edge of town and marks the west end of a passing siding.
Villa Rica -- Old Villa Rica Road. Leave Temple on East Johnson Street, which is the road running along the east side of the tracks. It is not GA-113; the highway turned off of Johnson in town. After 1.4 mile, beyond the east end of the siding at control point TAYLOR, MP 675.5 (inaccessible), the track crosses Temple Creek on a small bridge just before Old Villa Rica Road turns right. Turn onto Old Villa Rica Road and go 1.5 mile to AG crossing, photo NE 2, SE 2, SW 2, NW 4.
Villa Rica -- North Van Wert Road. Continue 0.5 mile to US-78 and turn left. Proceed 0.8 mile and turn left on North Van Wert Road. There is a pull-off SW of the AG crossing 0.5 mile from US-78; photo NE 4, SE 2, SW 2, NW 1.
Villa Rica. Continue north on North Van Wert 0.75 mile to Lake Paradise Road (as per the sign) / Paradise Lake Road (as per map software) and turn right. Go 1.7 mile to GA-101 / Rockmart Road / Watson Drive and turn right. Detector MP 671.7 lies in this segment where we're away from the track. Where GA-101 turns right 0.4 mile ahead, continue straight-ahead 1.6 mile to meet the EE as it enters Villa Rica. There is an AG crossing on GA-101, but the road is very busy; it's not a safe place to stop -- it's NARL. The business district is a few blocks further along.
In Villa Rica, there is parking along the north side of the tracks, and gas and food are available. Control point VILLA RICA, MP 669.9, is in the middle of town, and marks the west end of a siding. US-78 runs along the south side of the track.
[Webmaster's Note: Ever since leaving the Birmingham area, we've been enjoying what is largely a rural tour, punctuated with several small towns. Beyond Villa Rica, you must change mental gears, as we are getting close to Atlanta. In fact, downtown to downtown, Atlanta is only 33 miles from Villa Rica. Put aside your relaxed railfan attitude, and put on you urban, defensive driving persona. As John will show us, the railfan opportunities are plentiful in quantity as we continue, but the quality of the viewing goes down dramatically from here on. Be patient, pick your targets ahead of time, and BE SAFE.]
Winston. Leave Villa Rica on US-78 eastbound, with the tracks on your left. One half mile east of downtown, there is an AG crossing, photo rating 4 for all quadrants. If you need to get trackside, take the left at Cleghorn Street for this crossing. Another 0.3 mile further along US-78 is a left turn on Conners Road (NW-3, all others-4). MP 669 is just west of this crossing. Continuing east on US-78 another 1.5 miles, passing CP BAGGETT, MP 668.5, is a left turn on Tyson Road to an AG crossing (SE-3, all others-4).
Another 0.7 miles on US-78 there is a pull-off on the left (north) side of the road that used to be Nalley Road. The Nalley Road crossing was closed and the pavement removed from the EE sometime between October 2005 and April 2006. There is a view east from here to CP CARROLL, MP 666.6, which is the west end of a siding. Continue east on US-78 0.7 mile to Andy Mountain Road; turn left and go 0.3 mile (crossing the EE AG, all quadrants-4, MP 666 is located on the west side of this crossing) to Conners Road and turn right.
At 1.1 mile along Conners, turn right on Richardson Road to reach an AG crossing, photo all quadrants-4, where the CP WINSTON (MP 664.4) signals are visible east of the crossing. Returning to Conners Road, continue east 0.7 mile to cross above the track a little east of WINSTON (control point is not visible from the bridge). Just south of the bridge, turn left on Sweetwater Road, which parallels the track for 0.3 mile to a tee-intersection with Mann Road. There is a detector in this segment of track, MP 663.0. There is AG crossing, all quadrants-4, to the left on Mann Road.
This is a convenient place to join/leave this tour, as Exit 30 of I-20 is just over a mile south of this crossing.
Douglasville -- West. Turn right on Mann Road and go 0.3 mile to US-78. Turn left onto US-78 and go 0.7 to Strawn Road (AG crossing 0.25 mile to the north, all quadrants-4), and another 0.7 mile to a left on Baggett Road, which makes a loop and rejoins US-78. There is a detector in this segment, MP 663.0. The loop crosses the track twice; both crossings are crossbuck signed only and have no safe approaches for photos, all quads are 4's, so these are NARLs.
Continue on US-78 1.1 miles to Douglasville; the track runs alongside the highway. Turn left on Gurley Road (not signposted, but Calvary Church of God is visible north of the track), cross the track (N side-4, S side-3) and turn left on West Strickland Street. Go 0.4 mile to the end of the road at MP 661 (N side-3, S side-1).
Douglasville -- East. Return east 1.6 mile to the downtown area. The road is often below grade here, so photo rating is 3 or 4 all the way. At GA-92/Dallas Highway you will have to turn right and cross the track to US-78. CP DOUGLASVILLE, MP 658.8, lies just east of GA-92 / Dallas Highway, and marks the west end of a siding. Turn left onto US-78 East; go 1.1 mile to McIntosh Road (AG) crossing, NW-2, NE-3, S-2.
The east end of the Douglasville siding lies 0.3 mile further along US-78, at CP CRACKER, MP 657.3, adjacent to Municipal Parkway (AG, all quadrants-1, but very busy area--watch the traffic!).
Although the track and the highway run together most of the way from here to Austell, the traffic on the 2-lane highway is heavy and there are few, if any, good, safe places to pull off.
Lithia Springs -- Harper Street. Proceed 1.9 miles from CP Cracker/Municipal Parkway along US-78 to a left turn on Ben Hill Road. Pass up Burnt Hickory Road, as it is too busy for safe viewing. Take Ben Hill 1.7 mile to Harper Street (AG crossing, photo ratings NE-4, SE-2, SW-2, NW-4). The Lithia Springs detector, MP 653.0, is just east of here.
Turn right on Harper Street to return (1 block) to US-78. Turn left on US-78 and go 3.2 miles to the downtown area of Austell.
Austell -- Gazebo. [NOTE: As of late 2010, the gazebo has been razed.] On reaching Austell, use Powder Springs Road to cross to the north side of the track, turn right and park along Broad Street. The City of Austell has placed a gazebo here at trackside where railfans can watch trains. Control point AUSTELL, MP 650.5, lies west of the gazebo and marks the end of the single-track mainline Birmingham East End district. At this point, the Crescent Route joins the NS Georgia Division H-line from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and together they proceed as double-track to Inman Yard. The traffic on the line into Atlanta is well more than twice that west of Austell. There is a lot of traffic.
An unprotected pedestrian walkway (AG!) crosses the tracks at Mulberry Street, east of the gazebo; south side photo rating-2 (alongside busy 4-lane highway).
[Webmaster's Note: Those of you expecting dozens of railfan sites between Austell and Peachtree Station will be disappointed. In John's judgement, security concerns (those of personal safety from traffic, people who are not nice, and the railroad's concern for its own security) dictate that there is little casual railfanning from the next location thru the vast majority of the distance to the station. I agree completely. If you really want to explore the 9th largest metro area in the country, I suggest you join a Yahoogroups e-mail list that concentrates on the Atlanta area. You might also want to hook up with a local fan who will act as a guide for you.]
Austell -- Joe Jerkins Boulevard. We now travel through increasingly dense urban settings and traffic. There are few locations that provide safe, easy, legal access to the tracks. From the gazebo, go east to Mulberry Street, turn left one block, and right on Joe Jerkins Street. The road makes a loop above the track (good sidewalk access on bridge; park at community center just before the bridge).
Atlanta -- Nickajack Road. Joe Jerkins Street intersects US-78 from the south side. Turn right (east) onto US-78 and travel 4.1 miles to turn left onto Cooper Lake Road SW. Go 2.2 miles to Nickajack Road; turn left. The AG crossing is 0.3 mile ahead, just beyond Thompson Park, a wooded urban park which does not have trackside views.
Atlanta -- Amtrak Station. Return to Cooper Lake Road and turn left. The road crosses the track NAG just over the crest of the hill. At 0.8 mile from Nickajack Road, turn right on East-West Connector south, go 2 miles and turn right onto GA-280, Cobb Drive SE. Go 1.6 miles to a right on River View Road (just beyond the I-285 interchange), which will pass under the elevated track 0.7 miles from the turn. The area is open, as far as access, but trees obscure most of the bridge over the river. Return to Cobb Drive, turn left, and enter I-285 North (signposted for Greenville). Take the next exit (16), South Atlanta Road, and turn right.
Proceed 2.5 miles, crossing the Chattahoochee River, and turn right onto Bolton Road. (There is a sewage treatment plant here.) After 0.4 mile, turn left onto Marietta Road / Old Marietta Road NW. Usually out of sight, CSX has a facility (Tilford Yard) off the right side of the road. At 1.7 miles, you will bear right to cross a bridge over some tracks to pass between Tilford (CSX) and Inman (NS) Yards. Although this is a public road, remember that the yards are private property and do not trespass! 0.9 mile further on, past Inman's intermodal and main gates, turn left at a traffic light onto Perry Boulevard, which becomes West Marietta Street in about a block.
Go 2 miles to an intersection with US-19/US-41/Northside Drive. Turn left onto a ramp to descend to US-19/US-41 north and go 1.4 mile to a right on Deering Road NW. After 0.7 mile, it crosses over I-75; the Amtrak station is at the top of the hill ahead, on the right. Parking is in the Masonic lodge lot across the street (on the left) about half-way up the hill.
You are 633.3 miles from Washington, DC, via Norfolk Southern's Crescent Route. If you want to continue north, go here to join the Atlanta - Greenville segment of the Frograil Crescent Route Tour.