Monday, August 25, 2014


As I reflect on this vacation, I first reflect on what did I miss. First I missed Nashville and Memphis, TN. This was a planning thing as I chose before leaving not to go that direction. Nashville may never be seen, as the closest Amtrak stop is almost 200 miles. Memphis would be interesting. Overnight to Chicago, overnight to Memphis, overnight back to Chicago and overnight back home. I had speculated that hitting all my railroad targets in Chicago could be done in one day. Memphis could be done in less than a day but could be stretched to a full day if I explored Mudd Island. Of course I could expand Chicago to two full days, if I included some train riding as a part of the targets.

Atlanta streetcars just were not running because of construction delays. Interesting that in my first plans, Atlanta was a stop because it was on the way. It was only later that I learned of the streetcars. This remind me of one of my first chases. I learned that Amtrak had ordered the SPV2002 for use on the New Haven to Springfield run. The SPV2000 was an update RDC, styled like Amfleet. They were designed for branch operation and afterward be connected behind Amfleet, for through car service. They speculated they would be online by the end of April. I arrived in New Haven on April 22 and was to return on April 24. I arrived to find the old RDCs still in use and nothing of the SPV2000s to be found. I arrived home without seeing them. My next issue of Trains had pictures of the SPV2000s in service, on April 26, two days after I left. PS. It was a great excuse to go back a year later. And I did get pictures of the RDCs.


SPV 2000

When I began watching trains, the train chase was when I would watch a train pass, taking pictures as it passed. Than I would jump in the car and work to get ahead of the train so I could take more pictures as it pass by again. This was repeated often, for a particular consist. When I first used the title The Great American Train Chase, I was using a railfan's title, but not a real train chase. As I was thinking about, a train chase is anything that we view a runby and run to catch another, such as my overnight to Boston. Even that three days in CT and MA

The streetcars are projected, now, to start operation at the end of  November. I could return to see them. Atlanta is an easy overnight from Washington, DC. I have done it a couple of times before. The first was when Southern was still running it and again a couple of years later, when I wanted to go to Atlanta to take a steam excursion. I might even find other targets to see when there.

I did miss the SunRail in Orlando and the Skyway in Jacksonville, FL. I had done a projection for a Northern Fl, chase via Amtrak and found Tampa to Orlando to Jacksonville would be a problem. After getting home, I did the projection for Jacksonville to Orlando and found it to be tight, but when I change the projection for Orlando to Jacksonville, the chase became very doable.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Public Art and Spaces

Public Art and Spaces

Those who have seen my blog before know that I have a thing for public and art. Some are monuments but still art. The first is at Chattanooga Choo Choo

In Atlanta the primary examples that I pictured was in one square

Stone Mountain had this item

Of Courss there is the monument itself

Tampa had an beautiful designed Plaza and the Convention Center.

Of course Tampa had some good expamples of public Art

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 7 & 8

It was the night of the sixth day. I arrived in Orlando, FL rather late. I bypassed Disney. The skyline of Orlando was very attractive, however, due to traffic and lighting, I did not get any pictures. I just looked on the web and here are a couple:
Past downtown, I did have the opportunity to pace the Amtrak Silver Star as it left Orlando. This was only by chance.

So! It is morning of Day 7. My plan was to go by the Amtrak Station and watch mostly the SunRail, Orlando's new commuter rail. I was about a block from the station when the question came to me, did SunRail operate on Sundays. Well! It did not.

Now, onward to Jacksonville. In Jacksonville was the JTA Skyway, I stopped by the Colosseum station, and (guess what), it did not operation on Saturdays or Sundays.

Now, onward to Savanna, GA. It was almost halfway home and a good end to the day. There is the Riverside Streetcar, which runs on weekend and in the afternoon. I arrived after 1 and it was not running.

Day 8 is on the road home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 6, Part 2, Tampa, FL

After the S.A.M. Shortline's excursion left the station, I preceded to Tampa, FL. First destination was the airport to view and video the airport's people mover, a monorail.

During my visit, I took the orputnity to go to one of the gift shops and get my Florida. Tampa is only to watch trains so it is not a destination needing a mug. The parking deck was a very good location to view and photograph the skyline of Tampa:

In addition to the people mover, I wanted to watch the TECO Streetcars, downtown. I set up near the convention center:

at the stop called Dick Greco Plaza Station.

I took video here and other locations, close by.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 6, Part 1, Cordele, GA, S.A.M. Shortline

After my Stone Mountain day out, I drove to Cordele, GA to see the S.A.M. Shortline, which runs excursions several times a week. I drove downtown, but the way was blocked by a train. It happened to be a Norfolk Southern, waiting to cross the diamond. However, before crossing, a CSX freight approaches the diamond. There they spare because the signal was not working. The NS goes first:

Than the CSX. I had time so I went to the gift store an bought two patches, one for the shirt and one for the display. They did not have mugs.

While waiting, came the SAM Excursion, waiting to be placed.

And finally another CSX.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 5, Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain Park was more of an afterthought. In the current plan, I decided to make it a destination. All that I had learned, in my initial research, was that it was the site of a civil war memorial, on an order of Mount Rushmore. There is the Stone Mountain Railroad, a scenic railroad, encircling the park. It was the remains of the quarry railroad, when there was stone being extracted from the hills. To make things more interesting is the skyride up the mountain and the high view, with a view of Atlanta, in the distance. OK, it is worth a try. I have a emotional problems with civil war memorials. I use to be very interested in the Civil War. I had be been to Appomattox a number of times. In fact I had an ancestor who had land four miles from the surrender site. In my childhood, I was a proud Southerner. My problem is as an liberal white man, I have a guilt associated with the South's defense of slavery. I have the problem in that it is a grave injustice perpetrated by my ancestors. I have several where it is documented, who owned slaves. I can't just say to myself that it was not me. But they were family. The other problem is that it is history, get over it. Hardly!!!! The question is how to deal with it.

I arrived early, before the attractions opened. I had a chance to walk around before crowds got heavy. That made it nice as far as picture taking. Yes! I did get a picture of the memorial, but not the Memorial Hall.

I made my way to Crossroads area. I was the second car there. I walked around and perused the gift store and got my mug and patch. It was here that the train would leave. Not a very good place to picture the train.

I videoed the first train out and found a good crossing. One problem, the visitors at that point were hiking to the summit or returning. Some were circling the lake. They had no respect for the train watcher, I was. Here are my views of the train:

OK! Finally then skyride. I did not take to the summit but did get these views:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 4, Atlanta

The original plan was to visit Rock City on this morning. However, I thought that I would forgo that for this trip. So now I leave Chattanooga early and not head for Atlanta, GA. I made one major change in my itinerary. I had, originally planned to park, one stop from the airport, and use that as my operation center. From there, I would do my visit of the Plane train at the airport and than take  MARTA down to Peachtree Center to look at the progress on the streetcars. I was not sure of what to expect but suspected that the streetcars were yet to run.

I took MARTA to the airport. MARTA is identical to the Washington Metro and come under my heading of subway, although above ground for most of its paths. It is third rail with its own separate line. It if for that reason that I do not have any pictures or video of MARTA. Arriving at the airport, I went to the SkyTrain and took it too the rental car facility. There, I too a series of videos from different windows. They are pasted together here:

I had considered getting an Atlanta mug while there, but Atlanta was only a rail watching destination, not a destination destination. I only looked for railroads, except for some public space art and the streetcar line. And at a couple of stops, the view of the Atlanta skyline.

I was tempted to do a slideshow of the last two frames and label it the Atlanta Streetcars operating on July, 2014. Yes, they were not running, as yet. I talked with someone who would know and he said that projected, they are not to run until end of November. Merry Christmas, I guess.

I arrived back to Perimeter Mall and proceded to Stone Mountain. I had made hotel reservation near the main gate. There I spent the night before visiting the park, the next day.

There was a good reason for parking at the Mall rather than near the airport. Stone Mountain is east of Atlanta, the northern par of Atlanta. The mall would mean a more direct path to the park. Besides, I would not have to backtrack on my way south.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dsy 3, part 2, Chattanooga Choo Choo and beyond.

The Railroad Museum was worth the stopover in Chattanooga. On the way back to Lookout Mountain, I took a very short detour to visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo, It is a nice hotel in the old Chattanooga train station. To keep with the theme they have railroad cars and railroad themed attraction out back where the platforms use to be. Some of which are still standing with gardens.

In one of the gift shops that inhabit the place, I got a mug and patch. It not being a railroad place, I only got one patch for my dispay wall.

My plan was to return to Lookout Mountain and take the incline to the top. Again, I chickened out and just videoed it from the base. I did get a patch for the Incline in their gift shop. I had gotten the mug, yesterday.

These past two days proved to be good. I did not go up the incline but did make it to the top of Lookout Mountain. It was not a photographic view. It was still nice. The Museum was very good.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 3, part 1: Tennesee Valley Railroad Musuem

About 35 years ago, I came to Chattanooga to take a steam excursion. The afternoon before the excursion, I was exploring and drove past the Lookout Mountain Incline RR. I didn't have time to take it and I had the excursion, the next day, so I put it off one more day. The morning, I was to take it, it was foggy. On this trip, my original plan to go up the incline, today. Yesterday was sunny. Guess what? This morning is (wait for it) foggy. Thank goodness I went to the top of Lookout Mountain, yesterday, when I arrived. However, my plan was to go up in the afternoon and maybe the fog will burn itself off before then.

First stop on my plan is the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. I arrived early and was the first car in the parking lot. I took a look at the static display as I waited for the first excursion of the day.

The Norfolk Southern past by the Museum, There were a few freights passing and I would loved to videoed them but I was always in the wrong place. For instance, I was in the gift shop, getting my two patches, two styles, and my mug, when one came by.

Now is time for the excursion. In this case, because of the turntable, and the fact that the whole excursion would amount to an hour or so, I decided to ride, for a change. One note, I did not tour the shops but held back to video the reconnect of the engine for the return:

After the return, I waited for the next excursion, while having lunch. I saw it leave:

Note that there was a switching operation behind the train and I got a part of that, as well:

To be continued.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Day 2, part 3, Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

I arrived in Chattanooga, much earlier than my prospectus. I had planned to arrive and go to Ruby Falls. I dove up to Ruby Falls, went into the gift shop and bought a mug for my collection. I remembered coming to Chattanooga many years earlier. I did see the falls but had a problem with my claustrophobia. The close in nature of a full elevator was a problem, but the real was the cavern, with no ready exit. That is the true nature of my claustrophobia, not so much the small space but the lack of control on exiting the small space. I had seen the cavern and falls so decided not to do that again.

My prospectus had my now travel to a bridge crossing the incline railroad on Lookout Mountain. There was a gift shop next to the overlook. I found in the shop a mug for Tennessee, and Chattanooga, as expected. But was pleased to fine one for the incline railroad and, to my surprise, one for Georgia.

I spent some time filming the incline railroad. I did get more on the next day and this video combines all:

Since I had gotten here earlier than anticipated, I drove all the way to the to of Lookout Mountain. It was a nice high view my not photogenic. I have learned that in the past that not all pretty views are photogenic. I drove back to the motel and had dinner and a restful sleep.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 2, part 2, Some Odd Equiptment

My time at Copperhill, GA appeared to be ending but as I heading out of town, there was a RR yard. In the year were interesting equipment. Two caught my attention. The first was an engine painted and labeled the N.C, & St. L. That one was new to me. I got some pictures and video, before heading on my way:

That night, I searched the Web and found that the Railroad was thr Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. And 710 was painted by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. I learned in Chattanooga, that they occasionally run excursions to Copperhill, that is why the engine is there. Also, I learned that they own and maintain the Southern heavy weight.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 2, part 1, Blue Ridge Railroad

My night stay was less than an hour drive to Blue Ridge, GA, all I needed this morning. An early start arrived me in Blue Ridge well ahead of the scheduled excursion. I got some picture of along side the railroad with some added structures to the old station. There wasn't much beyond the excursion train at the station. So I begin with slides of the area:

Now, I took a look in the gift shop. It was typical of scenic railroad gifts. There is the required Engineers caps with RR logo. A variety of tee and sweat shirts are everywhere. Glassware like shot glasses tumblers and mugs become a staple. We find various toy trains, Brio and the like, with the most popular being Thomas the Tank Engine. Of course we find patches for the railroad. I got my patch for the RR shirt and one for my display wall. There was a mug that I had to have. Here I found the railroad patches for those that I don't have, the ones that are sewn to my RR shirt. I use to collect 4 from each excursion and museum. I have most of the large railroads, including the heritage.

I had not planned on chasing the train to Copperhill. The first route, according to Google, did not even come close to the tracks. One of the suggested routes did cross the tracks at one point. Google indicates that the drive would take 20 minutes. According to the website, the excursion to Copperhill would take an hour. So, could easily make the crossing and be in Copperhill in plenty of time for the train to arrive there.

I set up in a parking lot just north of the station, waiting for the first runby. After the train had passed I made my way to the crossing. I was doing well for in less than a mile, I had almost passed the train. I had plenty of time at the crossing. I set my camcorder on a fence post and stood back to watch for the train. The next runby came by chance. My planning through Google street view, found a nice side road which ran beside the railroad, with time, I followed about a mile and found a Church yard over looking the tracks and up hill.

So here is the chase: