Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cool Chromes -- A Quintessential Short Line of the South

Aberdeen, Carolina & Western; Star, N.C.; May 1992
The short line railroads of the south have their own charm. They have a reputation of being laid back and friendly, and many have a storied history. Some are prosperous, some just hang on.

One prosperous short line that has (or at least had) the appearance of "just hanging on" is the Aberdeen, Carolina & Western. Today's AC&W has sharply painted locomotives operating over 150 miles east of Charlotte. But when I first visited the railroad in 1992 it was only five years old and scratching out a living between the towns of Aberdeen and Star. The line's shop was in Star, and on my first visit it showed a lot of hardscrabble southern charm. The freight house showed its Southern Railway heritage thanks to the distinctive green sign on the building, and a former Chesapeake & Ohio EMD GP9 sat outside. Definitely a hand-me-down railroad.

My next visit to Star was five years later on May 6, 1997. This time I was there at night and wanted to do some night photos. The shop was wide open on the warm spring night, the lights were on, but no one was around. Not finding anyone, I took a few night shots and left. Once again the hand-me-down life of the railroad was evident by the locomotive in the shop -- ex-Chessie System GP38 No. 2077.
Aberdeen, Carolina & Western; May 6, 1997
It looks like this year I'll be making a couple of trips southward during the winter, and the short lines of North Carolina are high on the list of places to visit. The Aberdeen, Carolina & Western will certainly be one of those.

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