Locust Grove is about 40 minutes south of Atlanta. The train-watching platform is on the west side of the railroad track, so photography of trains is best in the afternoon hours. The covered pavilion has two picnic tables and several benches with a lot of open space for beach chairs.
There is a scanner feed to listen in to the Norfolk Southern train radio and lights for nighttime railfanning. The several grade crossings give a heads up for both north & southbound trains.
Manchester is just 75 miles south of Atlanta. Manchester is where the Waycross main splits, the line north is the Atlanta Main, and the line west is the Birmingham Main. All trains that pass through Manchester will pass, or at least be seen, from the train watching gazebo. Since the gazebo is on the south side of the tracks, lighting for pictures is good most of the day. However, the track closest to the gazebo, called “the runaround”, is often used as a siding for trains looking to recrew, or at times a local freight may drop their train on it. This may completely block your view of other passing trains. But, a two-minute walk onto the roadway overpass will get to the other side. Rail traffic is open to everything CSX moves. Highlights include the Tropicana Juice trains, and deadhead locomotives being moved to/from the CSX shop in Waycross, located south of Manchester.
Cordele is 150 miles south of Atlanta, just off I-75. This is a brand new (2021) railway park located at the confluence of three railroads, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and the Heart of Georgia Railroad.
The platform is well equipped with bathrooms, benches, and outdoor ceiling fans. The park has a series of historical placards that detail the history of the railways in conjunction with the city of Cordele’s history.
It is well lit and there is plenty of parking. The platform has 2 (two) VRF (Virtual Rail Fan) Cameras on the building which runs 24 hours a day. The SAM tourist railway is just a few miles away: SAM Shortline | Home
Dalton is 90 miles north of Atlanta, just off I-75. This is a railfan’s hot spot with 40 to 45 trains on an average day – the CSX and Norfolk Southern cross at grade. The city has restored the old freight station and created an excellent train watching location and visitor’s center. The platform along the building is ideal for photography. Benches, chairs, and tables are available for train watchers to rest between trains. An ATCS video monitor displays the active dispatcher’s board so you know when the trains are coming; a radio audio feed also lets you listen in to the railroad action.
Folkston is 275 miles south of Atlanta, near I-95 and the Florida border. The viewing platform (with radio scanner, and lights) is on a double track CSX mainline; 90% of all trains to/from Florida pass by. The platform is part of the railfan park, which has restrooms and a parking lot complete with a well-groomed lawn along the tracks.
Opposite the park is the old train station building which is used by the chamber of commerce. It has picnic tables and another well-maintained lawn that is perfect for train watching when the sun moves to the west side of the tracks. At night, floodlights illuminate the tracks for nighttime train watching. Amtrak passes through 8 times a day (they do not stop). Some of the daily highlights include the Amtrak Auto-Train, and the Tropicanna Orange Juice train (operated by CSX).
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