Friday, August 03, 2007
Taking a Park Break
In North Carolina, running from Asheville to Murphy, is what was once known as the Murphy Branch of the old Southern Railway. It contained(s) some of the most spectacular scenery and railway engineering in the country.
This is the first time in a number of years that I have been able to visit the Murphy Branch and the first time I have been able to visit the Asheville end of the branch. The Norfolk Southern still owns and operates what I will call the east end. Asheville to at least Waynesville still see revenue freight service. The stretch from Sylva to Bryson City is operated by the Great Smoky Mountain Railway and offers tourists trips through the Nantahala Gorge. The stretch from Bryson City to Murphy which has the 4% Red Mountain grade is still in use (as of 5 years ago) and presumably operated by the GSMRR as freight only.
There is an entire book about this line and its history. The Murphy Branch by Michael George is a fascinating read into a piece of unusual American railroading.
The shot above is of a Norfolk Southern GP-38-2 idling at Canton on the branch. These units are somewhat unusual in that they have a high short hood to protect crews from grade crossing accidents with big coal trucks in the mountains. Only Southern and Norfolk and Western ordered their units this way. I do not believe the merged Norfolk Southern continues this practice.
I hope you all enjoy the "train" regression today. I hope everyone has a great Friday. Back to the park tomorrow and then there are a couple of series to follow. North Carolina and Tennessee are wonderful places to take pictures, especially for a history nut like me!