Posts Tagged ‘Southern Railway’

NS to Donate SR Railway Records to Atlanta History Center

October 27, 2021

Norfolk Southern said this week it would donate records of Southern Railway to the Atlanta History Center.

The archive includes hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and photographs.

The Class 1 railroad, which is headquartered in Atlanta, will give the center $500,000 to pay for digitizing the archive.

Southern merged with Norfolk & Western in 1982 to create NS.

NS CEO James Squires said in a statement that the archives belong to Atlanta because of the history they represent of that city.

“The history of Southern Railway is inseparable from the history of this region,” Squires said.

Steam Saturday: Disguised as the Southern

July 31, 2021

If this Southern Railway steam locomotive doesn’t look quite American, it is because it is not. No. 2839 was built in Montreal in 1937 and retired by Canadian Pacific in 1959.

Then it took on an American journey, being purchased by a group in Pennsylvania that restored it to operating condition with a CP identity.

The 4-6-4 was leased to the Southern in 1979 and 1980 for its steam program. There is was dubbed the “beer can” because of its cylindrical streamlined design.

It is shown above at St. Anthony, Indiana, on June 9, 1979, on the Louisville-St. Louis line.

This particular trip was operating as a roundtrip between Huntingburg and New Albany, Indiana.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

On the Road to Roanoke in July 1987

June 16, 2020

In late July 1987, I met up with the Surdyk family (William, Marty, Robert and John) in Parma Heights on the first step of a Rails to Roanoke trip for the 1987 National Railway Historical Society convention.

It would be a week long adventure. Our first stop was Cass, West Virginia, to ride and photograph the Cass Scenic Railroad.

We then spent the next two days photographing the Chesapeake & Ohio mainline in West Virginia and Virginia while working our way to the Shenandoah line to catch the inbound convention trip from Alexandria, Virginia, to Roanoke.

We met up with it at Delaplane, Virginia, and were able to photograph it at least 12 locations. We rode the Thursday July 30 trip behind Norfolk & Western Class A No. 1218 from Roanoke to Bluefield, West Virginia.

N&W Class J No. 611 would power our return to Roanoke. We did some photography east of Roanoke prior to the equipment display on July 31, which will start the second part of this series.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Amtrak’s Cardinal at Fort Spring, West Virginia, on July 26, 1987.

Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia , on the C&O on July 27, 1987.

At Alleghany Tunnel in West Virginia on July 27, 1987. The locomotive engineer doing a roll by inspection is wearing a Chief Wahoo hat.

Southern FP7s on the Shenandoah line on July 29, 1987.

Southern FP7s at Buchanan, Virginia.

At Bedford, Virginia on July 31.

2 Face Arson Charges in Rail Shop Building Fire

June 15, 2020

Two Kentucky youths are expected to be charged in connection with a fire that destroyed a former Southern Railway shop building in Ludlow, Kentucky.

The two are facing arson charges stemming from that fire and a fire that destroyed a vacation house in the city’s business district.

Ludlow Police Chief Scott Smith said the two youths have admitted to starting the fires.

The railroad shop building fire was reported about 6:30 p.m. on June 10. Firefighters from five departments were called to the scene.

The building is owned by Norfolk Southern but was not in use. It was constructed in 1949 and was one of the last Southern-built structures still standing in Ludlow.

Paying Tribute to the AC&Y

June 2, 2020

It’s not a true heritage unit, but Wheeling & Lake Erie GP35 No. 107 pays tribute to the Akron, Canton & Youngstown by bearing an AC&Y herald.

It is shown crossing the Ohio and Erie Canal in downtown Akron on Oct. 8, 2014, on a bridge that the AC&Y built several decades ago.

This unit, which is still active on the W&LE, was acquired by the railroad in 1990 when it got started.

It was built in February 1965 for the Southern Railway.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Short Line Paints Locomotive in IT-Inspired Livery

November 7, 2019

An Indiana short line railroad has repainted a high-hood GP38-2 into an Illinois Terminal inspired livery.

The Indiana Eastern Railroad applied the green and yellow to a former Southern Railway unit recently and put it into revenue service this week.

IE had purchased the unit from Norfolk Southern in October 2017. The unit was once used by NS at a training center in Georgia.

Built in September 1979, No. 5255 replaces at the IE a pair of Alger, Winslow & Western SD9s as the railroad’s primary power.

No. 5255 made its first revenue trip with its new look on Nov. 4.

George Andres, CEO and co-owner of the IE and a sister operation Ohio South Central Railroad, tells Trains magazine that the inspiration for the new livery came from a combination of the “John Deere Green” IT livery used on its GP20’s and the original IT light green with yellow noses used on GP7s.

No. 5255 can  be found working in and around IE’s home in Cottage Grove, Indiana, on most weekday mornings.

IE still has its SD9s with one serving as a backup and the other stored serviceable.


Quite A History Behind This 1-Car Train

October 20, 2019

Southern Railway received a lot of positive attention for its Southern Crescent passenger train in the 1970s.

It even boasted about the train’s service in advertisements placed in Trains magazine.

The quality of the service aboard the Southern Crescent stood in contrast with that offered by Amtrak at the time.

So when this top photograph above came in from Bob Farkas, I was intrigued by it. This southbound Southern train was recorded at Alexandria, Virginia, on July 7, 1973.

The consist of one Southern FP7 6145 and a lone passenger car was clearly not the Southern Crescent. So what was it?

The Southern also had a train named the Piedmont that operated between Washington and Atlanta, but this didn’t seem to be that train, either.

Bob said his former traveling partner Mike Ondecker recorded in his notes from that date that it was Train No. 7.

This was the remnant of the Birmingham Special, which once operated between New York and Birmingham, Alabama.

At the time that this image was made No. 7 and its northbound counterpart, No. 8, operated between Washington and Lynchburg, Virginia.

Although by the middle 1970s they were little more than accommodation trains, they had a proud and interesting history.

Launched on May 17, 1909, the Birmingham Special was a Pennsylvania Railroad train between New York and Washington and handled by the Southern via Atlanta to Birmingham.

The Birmingham Special moved to a different routing on May 15, 1932, operating on the Southern between Washington and Lynchburg, on the Norfolk & Western between Lynchburg and Bistol, Virginia, and then back on the Southern to Birmingham.

It stopped in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and some sources say that song writers Mack Gorden Harry Warren wrote Chattanooga Choo Choo while riding the Birmingham Special.

However, the song’s reference to boarding on Track 29 at Pennsylvania Station in New York is poetic license because there was no Track 29 there.

But the famed Twentieth Century Limited of the New York Central did depart from Track 29 at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

A recording of the song recorded by the Glenn Miller orchestra was featured in the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade.

The Pennsy ended its segment of the Birmingham Special in the late 1950s and some of its services fell by the wayside in the 1960s.

The train named was dropped on Feb. 1, 1970, although the book Journey to Amtrak shows it still in use by N&W on the eve of Amtrak.

However, the last Official Guide of the Railways issued before Amtrak does not show the name in the N&W schedules for Nos. 17 and 18.

The former Birmingham Special ran for the last time south of Bristol on Aug. 11, 1970.

That night it was the last train to depart from Chattanooga Terminal Station, departing there for the last time in the rain at 11:35 p.m.

The N&W leg of the former Birmingham Special ended May 1, 1971, because the N&W did join Amtrak.

During the early Amtrak era, the Southern would combine No. 7 with an intermodal train just south of the Alexandria station.

The passenger portion would be separated a short distance from Lynchburg.

The procedure was reversed for Train No. 8.

Trains magazine reported in its March 1975 issue about the Southern having notified the Interstate Commerce Commission of its intent to discontinue passenger service on piggyback trains 7 and 8.

The magazine in its July 1975 issue reported that the ICC had cleared the way for the Southern to do that.

It is not clear when Nos. 7 and 8 ceased to carry passengers. At the same time that the Southern sought to end Nos. 7 and 8 it also wanted to change the operations of the Piedmont and Southern Crescent.

The ICC decision clearing the way for those changes was handed down on May 21, 1975, and the changes became effective June 1. Perhaps Nos. 7 and 8 ended at that time but they could have ended earlier.

Another Trains story noted that No. 7 and 8, which continued to operate through early 1975 with one locomotive and one coach, were the first trains to be ended under section 13a of Interstate Commerce Act after Amtrak began.

Bob and Mike also caught up with better known Southern Crescent on April 6, 1974.

As Bob tells the story, “It was my school’s Easter vacation (Yes, it was called that back then), and having a week off from teaching, my friend Mike Ondecker (who worked for the Erie Lackawanna) and I went on a trip to the South.”

They found Southern E8A No. 6910 in Birmingham as seen in the bottom image.

 Photographs by Robert Farkas






Indiana Short Line Gives Diesel a ‘Southern’ Look

May 22, 2018

Indiana Boxcar Corporation is giving one of its member railroads a Southern Railway look.

Former Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad SDM No. 815 was repainted by the Olin Locomotive Shops in West Central Indiana.

It will be assigned to the Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad, which has a former Southern unit,, GP38-2 No. 5115.

The latter was acquired during a Norfolk Southern equipment auction in August 2017.

The C&I is a 33-mile long Class III short line located in Northwest Indiana and based in LaCrosse.

It uses former C&O of Indiana tracks and primarily hauls grain that it interchanges with NS and CSX.

No. 815 had been out of service for several months while being rebuilt. The work included overhauling its prime mover, and main and auxiliary generator.

Indiana Short Line Applying Heritage Liveries

November 9, 2017

An Indiana short-line railroad company is not done creating heritage units.

Indiana Boxcar Corporation has debuted an F8 wearing the colors and markings of Erie Mining, as well as a high-hood GP38 in Southern Railway inspired markings and a GP9R in a Grand Trunk Western style livery.

The F9 is being used on the Vermilion Valley Railroad, the GP38 has been assigned to the Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad and the GP9 went to the Camp Chase Railway in Columbus, Ohio.

Indiana Boxcar recently purchased three high-hood locomotives from Norfolk Southern and plans to keep them for now in their NS roster numbers of 5093, 5115, and 5152.

In time, all three of the units will wear the Southern-inspired livery and retain their controls for long-hood forward operation.

Program on Southern Railway in the South Will Highlight ARRC End of Year Dinner Program on December 2

October 25, 2017

Southern train No. 159, photographed at Faber, Virginia, in November 1984.

Southern Served the South is the title of a slide program that Akron Railroad Club member Mark Demaline will present at the ARRC’s end of year dinner on Dec. 2.

The event will be held at the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant at 3732 Darrow Road in Stow.

The program will feature Southern Railway freight, passenger and steam excursion action between the late 1970s and late 1980s from the Washington D.C., area, through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Northern Florida.

The end of year dinner is limited to 32 attendees due to the small size of the meeting room in which it is held.

Tickets to the event are free and may be obtained by contacting Marty Surdyk at

The tickets will also be available for distribution at the Nov. 17 ARRC meeting.

The end of year dinner will begin with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. and we’ll be ordering from the menu at about 6 p.m.

Payment for drinks and meals is individual settlement.