Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - (Page 23)

stops anymore, but many still offer the thrill of seeing a crossing guard fall and a long procession of metal come rumbling through. While many regard trains as a nuisance—nobody likes waiting at a noisy crossing guard—some communities have embraced trains as a tourist attraction and created venues to make viewing easier and safer. No place has done more to make itself a “railfan” capital than the tiny town of Folkston on the Georgia border just 40 miles northwest of Jacksonville, Fla. Here, two CSX lines from Savannah and Jesup merge to form the Folkston Funnel. The tracks run parallel until they split again in Florida running toward Jacksonville and Baldwin. As many as 40 to 70 trains a day hurtle through town. In fact, virtually every freight train from the eastern U.S. comes through Folkston on its way to Florida, including the Tropicana Juice Train. It makes for quite a spectacle and frequently blocks traffic. However an overpass near the depot has eased transit. “Residents can get from one side of the tracks to the other without sitting at one of the three grade crossings, while one freight comes through town and blocks all three for two or three minutes,” says Bill Whitaker who runs The Inn at Folkston, a local bed-and-breakfast. The old depot has been preserved, and a few years ago, the city built a covered viewing platform next to tracks in the center of town. Built with a state grant, it’s outfitted with lights, chairs and other amenities. A Web cam even streams train images over the Internet. Driven by word of mouth among fans, Folkston attracts thousands from across the country to watch the trains each year. All those tourists prompted the city to start an annual “Rail Watch Weekend” the first Saturday in April. The city has also attracted considerable press ranging from CBS News to the Wall Street Journal. This fascination with trains also has a definite economic impact. Over the years, the increased tourism has helped fuel the opening of new shops and restaurants. In an age when small towns are searching for ways to boost their economies, Manchester, some 60 miles southwest of Atlanta, is also cozying up to train-watchers. The city jumped on the bandwagon with a viewing platform and annual festival. “We noticed several years ago that we had a lot of people who were standing on the bridge taking pictures of trains and realized that it was a hot spot,” explains Jennifer Elliott Meares, head of the city’s economic development authority. “People had told us about towns that had platforms to watch the trains. So we built one for our town, and it sits behind the Main Street parking lot and overlooks the rail yard.” Manchester grew up around a sprawling cotton mill that sits next to the tracks. Although the mill has long since closed, about 40 trains still chug through town daily at this CSX junction on the Atlanta and Birmingham line. More than a decade ago, the town launched its own “Railroad Days,” the third Saturday in October. It now draws more than 1,000 visitors to town ranging from idle spectators to hardcore train-watchers and model train enthusiasts with their extensive track layouts. Future plans include opening a rail museum in the old mill as a means of encouraging more fans to return. “We have people who come from all over really,” says Meares. “It’s amazing how interested they are in watching the trains. People who really enjoy it—they know the number. They know the train. It’s really fascinating to them.” Randy Southerland is a freelance writer living in Acworth. Train-watching in Georgia • • • • The Dalton Depot, daltoncvb.com/trains.html; (800) 331-3258 The Folkston Funnel, folkston.com/trains/trains.htm; (912) 496-2536 The Georgia Railfan, georgiarailfan.net Manchester Georgia Railroad Days, manchester-ga.com/html/local_ activities.html; (706) 846-5341 • Railga.com, railga.com • RAILFANING: Local, Georgia and National Places for Train Watching, trainweb.org/gsof/ixp-RailfanSites.htm August 2010 Ted Rogers, of Manchester, views the CSX rail yard from the Manchester train-watching platform. 23 More online at www.georgiamagazine.org JENNIFER MEARES http://www.daltoncvb.com/trains.html http://www.folkston.com/trains/trains.htm http://www.georgiarailfan.net http://www.manchester-ga.com/html/local_activities.html http://www.manchester-ga.com/html/local_activities.html http://www.Railga.com http://www.railga.com http://www.trainweb.org/gsof/ixp-RailfanSites.htm http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - August 2010

Georgia Magazine - August 2010
Contents
Viewpoint
Mailbox
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar
Festival Guide
Currents
Warner Robins Hits a Home Run
More Little League Action
For the Birds
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks
Cookbook of the Month
Snapshot
Additional Snapshot Photos
Bonus Recipe of the Month

Georgia Magazine - August 2010

Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Magazine - August 2010 (Page Cover1)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Magazine - August 2010 (Page Cover2)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Magazine - August 2010 (Page 3)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Contents (Page 4)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Viewpoint (Page 5)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Mailbox (Page 6)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Picture This? (Page 7)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia News (Page 8)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia News (Page 9)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Calendar (Page 10)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Festival Guide (Page 11)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Festival Guide (Page 12)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Festival Guide (Page 13)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Currents (Page 14)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Currents (Page 15)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Warner Robins Hits a Home Run (Page 16)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Warner Robins Hits a Home Run (Page 17)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Warner Robins Hits a Home Run (Page 18)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - More Little League Action (Page 18A)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - More Little League Action (Page 18B)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - For the Birds (Page 19)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - For the Birds (Page 20)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - For the Birds (Page 21)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Around Georgia (Page 22)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Around Georgia (Page 23)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - My Georgia (Page 24)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - My Georgia (Page 25)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Gardens (Page 26)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Gardens (Page 27)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Cooks (Page 28)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Cooks (Page 29)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Cooks (Page 30)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Georgia Cooks (Page 31)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Cookbook of the Month (Page 32)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Cookbook of the Month (Page 33)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Snapshot (Page 34)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Additional Snapshot Photos (Page 34A)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Bonus Recipe of the Month (Page 34B)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Bonus Recipe of the Month (Page Cover3)
Georgia Magazine - August 2010 - Bonus Recipe of the Month (Page Cover4)
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