Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Day In Downtown Atlanta

Norfolk Southern; Henderson Interlocking, Atlanta, Georgia; December 10, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia, is a bit of a crossroads of the South. Both CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern enter the city from multiple directions, and both have yards side-by-side northwest of downtown. And both railroads have heavy-duty mainlines that parallel each other just a few feet apart through the downtown area. It's a great place to visit.

On December 10, 2016, I visited Atlanta with my brother Bruce. We had a few shots plotted out based on morning and afternoon light. One shot we wanted was a morning-only shot on Norfolk Southern south of town. Just below NS's South Yard there is an interlocking known as Henderson, and here you can get NS freights with a water tower (not railroad) in the background. What makes the shot interesting, however, is Chick-Fil-A uses the water tower for advertising and you can get two of the company's famous cows having some fun up on the tank (above).

Unfortunately on this day, traffic was a bit on the light side (we did see four northbound trains at this location while waiting for a southbound, but the light was not the best for these). This put us into early afternoon already on this short winter day, but a CSX train cooperated as we went just northwest of downtown to the abandoned road bridge off Northside Drive NW. Here CSX and NS run side-by-side, but our CSX train was running on NS tracks. A friendly toot of the horn from the engineer scared up the flock of pigeons living under the bridge.
CSX Transportation; Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
Next up on our hit list was South Tower, the building that controlled the south (west) end of Atlanta's Terminal Station. The short summer days and low sun were already causing shadow problems. Once again, this is a spot where CSX and NS are side-by-side through downtown. Our first train was a northbound on CSX trackage with Union Pacific power. The large white building in the background was the offices of the Southern Railway at one time.
Union Pacific (on CSX); South Tower, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
With South Tower largely shadowed in, we made a move to the northwest side of town. Here CSX's Tilford Yard and NS's Inman Yard are side-by-side. A good view of the CSX engine facility with downtown Atlanta in the distance can be had from Marietta Road NW.
CSX Transportation; Tilford Yard, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
A rail train was making its way out of the yard just before sunset and we were able to shoot it.
CSX Transportation; Tilford Yard, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
Just geographic east (railroad south) of the yards is a pretty complex junction known as Howell's. There is a good viewing location of the junction off West Marietta Street NW that railfans have kept clear for photography. While we didn't get a train coming the proper direction (one coming at us from across the diamond would have been nice), we settled for our rail train heading through the junction. Not visible in the photo is the NS mainline directly below us.
CSX Transportation; Howell's Junction, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
With the sun now gone, we headed back downtown to South Tower for night shots. Directly across the street from the tower is the Smoke Ring, a great place to enjoy barbecue between trains. Once it was dark, we set up our lights and waited for trains. The bridge over the tracks heading towards the Southern office building is Nelson Street SW; the bridge is now pedestrian-only, making for a convenient place to watch trains. An NS northbound passed by the tower.
Norfolk Southern; South Tower, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
We did get two NS southbound trains during our wait, including a stack train. The building beneath the red Christmas tree in the background is the headquarters of CNN.
Norfolk Southern; South Tower, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016
Our last train of the day was a CSX northbound. It showed up while the NS southbound stack train was passing, requiring a "best guess" shot between the stack cars. With this, our day in Atlanta was over. Perhaps another visit when the sun is a bit higher and the day a bit longer is in order.
CSX Transportation; South Tower, Atlanta, Ga.; December 10, 2016

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