Railfan Parks in Georgia
By Dale Jacobson
[This feature was published in the April 2005 issue of the Bull Sheet]
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Dale Jacobson, a long-time reader of the Bull Sheet, has sent a report of a trip he and his friend Norm Schultze made in February of this year through the Southeast. They were mostly hunting for shortlines, but they did take time to visit two railfan parks. Included here are excerpts of his report pertaining to the parks..
FOLKSTON: Whoever designed the railfan hangout at Folkston must have looked at all other such places in the USA and learned from whatever mistakes the others made. For the park at Folkston is roughly two blocks long with a viewing platform, restroom, grill and charcoal, and a scanner on one side of the tracks, one block south of Main Street. On the other side of the tracks, the next block north of Main Street, there is a freight house museum with baggage carts and more seats as well as another scanner. Thus, fans have places to photo trains at most all times of the day with good sun angles. And, oh yes, there are plenty of parking spaces, too. Folkston is where the CSX lines from Savannah and Waycross join for the run down to Callahan, Florida, and is known as the "Folkston Funnel."
All trains going to and from Florida pass over the roughly 24 miles of track between the two points. This means that on average there are roughly 60 freights and six passenger trains per day through Folkston, which means the action is almost non-stop. But railfans need time out to eat and sleep. A block from the viewing area east of the tracks (they run not quite north-south) is the Whistle Stop Cafe with a railroad motif including a G-scale CSX freight running around a loop hanging from the ceiling. There are other eateries, but none as close to the tracks. Should a train run while at the Whistle Stop, you can at least look outside to see what's going by.
There are three motels in town. However, unless you just have to watch trains at night, you're likely to find less expensive lodging in either Kingsland or Waycross, even with the 10 percent discount given to railfans who stay at the Western Motel. Otherwise, rates were in the range of $60 for two people, two beds, for one night.
JESUP: We also visited the railfan platform at Jesup. It, too, had a scanner, but otherwise was a much less elaborate affair, consisting of just the platform in a park-like setting south of the old station on the west side of the tracks. Jesup is located on the CSX line from Savannah at the point where it splits with one line going south to Waycross and the other going directly to Folkston. As none of the Chicago or Cincinnati trains pass this way, this railfan spot sees way fewer trains than seen at Folkston.
Photos, left to right.. Folkston, and Jesup.