locked Willachooche, GA

George Eichelberger

I just got back from the Cocoa Beach RPM. (Two rather different routes, going from Atlanta via I-75 and the Fla. turnpike to Orlando then the toll road to CCB along the route Bright Line is building their new railroad from Cocoa to the Orlando airport...very (!) impressive construction project. Return was up I-95 to Jax, then US 1 to Waycross then to Tifton and I-75 north. Odd thing..the two route distances were only 2 miles different!)

The road west of Waycross is interesting because it parallels an ACL line from Waycross to Tifton (it looks abandoned but track is still in place west to just short of Pearson, GA.) That line was very important to the Southern because up until the SCL merger, Tifton was the only place the ACL would interchange freight cars in and out of Florida with the Southern toward Atlanta.

Willachooche, GA is west of Pearson where the ACL and Georgia and Florida crossed. Passing through there I knew of a couple of junk RR cars parked at the depot but I was definitely surprised to see track machines and new track. I thought the G&F was abandoned and pulled up but following the newly built tracks south on the G&F, I saw a large mill and a yard with many tank cars and chip gons. There is a Southern "River" series 10/6 Pullman (name is painted over, at the north end of the yard (all fenced in).

I think the south end of the G&F may still be in from Valdosta to Nashville, GA but from there to Willachooche is a number of miles. Does anyone know if the G&F between those two points has been restored...or were never taken out? (is it part of the "St Marys - west railroad? That's what the grade crossing "800" telephone number signs on the ex ACL say.)

I never really followed the G&F in the 70s as I was always passing through to somewhere else but there were several towns where I'd cross the G&F. It was as close to "backwoods railroading" as anywhere on the Southern. Some of the last Southern F units I photographed were working the G&F. (Still intact from Augusta to Valdosta then?) The G&F sold the line from Valdosta to Madison, FL (Now Valdosta Southern) so avoid being an Interstate railroad some years before.


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