Mystery of the north Atlanta drive-in movie theaters.. SOLVED

So in the past I’ve had people tell me that the AMC movie theater on I-85 used to be a drive-in. But I’ve had other people tell me that the drive-in was at the current location of the Atlanta Silverbacks soccer park.

Thanks to the 1950s topo maps you can download from the GPS, it turns out they were both right. On the 1954 maps of “Northeast Atlanta” and “Chamblee” quadrant maps, there are two drive-in movie theaters, actually pretty close to each other. Competition must have been fierce.

drivein

Also.. checkout proto-Spaghetti Junction!

Driving Tour of the Eastern Continental Divide in Atlanta

ecd_driving

This is about as good as I can do, the part in downtown Atlanta is particularly sloppy because the ECD actually runs through the Gulch.

Click For Google Map

To future-proof it against changes in the Google Maps site, this is the text:

Start at I-75 exit 223
Head north on Jonesboro Rd
Turn right onto N Lake Dr
Turn left onto Forest Pkwy
Turn right onto Jonesboro Rd
Turn left at the 1st cross street onto Courtney Dr
Slight left onto Main St
Turn left onto Hale Rd
Turn right onto Central Ave
Continue onto Old Dixie Hwy
Continue onto Porsche Ave
Continue onto S Central Ave
Turn left onto Irene Kidd Pkwy
Turn right onto GA-14 N/US-29 N/Main St
Continue to follow GA-14 N/US-29 N
Continue straight onto Peters St SW
Peters St SW turns slightly right and becomes Trinity Ave SW
Turn left onto Forsyth St SW
Turn right onto Marietta St NW
Continue onto Decatur St SE
Continue onto DeKalb Ave NE
Continue onto W Howard Ave
Turn right onto N McDonough St
Turn left at the 1st cross street onto GA-10 E/US-278 E/E College Ave
Continue to follow GA-10 E/US-278 E
Turn left onto N Clarendon Ave
Slight right at Wells St
Slight right onto E Ponce De Leon Ave
Turn left onto Mountain Industrial Blvd
Turn left onto Hugh Howell Rd
Turn right onto GA-236 W/GA-8 E/US-29 N
Turn left onto Lavista Rd
Slight right onto Chamblee Tucker Rd
Continue straight onto Tucker Norcross Rd
Turn right to stay on Tucker Norcross Rd
Continue onto S Norcross Tucker Rd
Turn left onto Jimmy Carter Blvd
Turn right onto S Peachtree St
Slight left to stay on S Peachtree St
Turn left onto Park Dr
Turn right onto N Peachtree St
N Peachtree St turns slightly left and becomes Medlock Bridge Rd NW
Turn right onto S Old Peachtree Rd
Continue onto Industrial Park Dr NW
Turn right onto N Berkeley Lake Rd NW
Turn left onto GA-13 N/US-23 N
Turn left onto S Peachtree St
Turn left onto Hardy Industrial Blvd
Turn right onto Hill St NW
Turn right onto Abbotts Bridge Rd
Turn left onto Main St
Turn right onto Brock St
Turn right onto Old Peachtree Rd NW
End at I-85 exit 109

“53.9 mi, 1 hour 54 mins”

 

Eastern Continental Divide GPS Maps

As far as we can determine, there is no map of this dividing line in existence as of 2003. This being the case, it was decided to research the Divide in Georgia.

via Eastern Continental Divide GPS Maps.

Back in 2012 I used the information at this page to make a set a turn-by-turn directions for following the ECD through Atlanta as close as possible on current roads.

Unfortunately changes in the Google maps algorithm means that the “permalink” I saved no longer works. I will attempt to recreate it in a less-fragile format.

Peachtree Rd. -Created from a Creek Indian Trail – History and GPS Maps

A trail known as the Peachtree Trail stretched from Standing Pitch Tree along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta to Fort Daniel located at Hog Mountain in present-day Gwinnett County. The Peachtree Road construction began in 1812. Many portions of present-day roads trace this route.

via Peachtree Road.

The page then proceeds to follow the route along those roads (which actually does not include any of Peachtree Street south of Buckhead), including portions that are no longer driveable and must be walked.

Dig the photos of the author walking them, too.

Just Gulch Things

This is the main area of the gulch, the biggest open-to-the-sky piece of ground in downtown Atlanta. As you can see it is currently a parking lot.





This area is directly in the middle of the triangle formed by the railroads at the center of Atlanta. In former times this would have been a tangle of yard tracks.

You would never know it but this is also on the Eastern Continental Divide.

Lots of people have ideas about what to do with this space. The Multimodal Passenger Terminal, if ever built, would use this space. There are also various plans to built elevated parks/plazas over the top of all this, up at the level where the viaducts run.

As it is, this space serves the city mainly as a place for tailgating during Falcons games.

These next are some pictures of the area between the Spring and Forsyth viaducts. Fairlie street runs into this parking lot from the north and ends. Cars frequently turn down Fairlie and then turn around once they realize it doesn’t go anywhere.







The two sets of tracks that split here form two sides of the “triangle”. This is one of the vertices. It is the only one that has a grade crossing that is still open to cars in modern times directly at the point of the triangle. It is also much simpler than the other corners, there being only two tracks here that have not been abandoned.

Formerly this was the location of Union Station, and the trackage would have been more complex. You can see unused rails in the dirt.

This connection called “circle Jubction” is the current mile zero of  CSX’s Western and Alantic subdivision. The historical “zero milepost” is located slightly east inside a building. I believe it was the post that moved, not the railroad.

Another notable thing, you can actually drive beside trains for a few blocks through the underground parking decks to the east of here, without having to pay to park. You would be driving (I think) on the original alignment of Wall Street (with the modern street directly overhead) and you will pass under the intersection with Peachtree. You should try that once before they do something to mess it up.

About that “air line” thing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaboard_Air_Line_Railroad#The_air_line_name

In the days before air travel air line was a common term for the shortest distance between two points: a straight line drawn through the air (or on a map), ignoring natural obstacles. Hence, a number of 19th century railroads used air line in their titles to suggest that their routes were shorter than those of competing roads.

The Seaboard never owned an airplane. In 1940 the railroad proposed the creation of “Seaboard Airlines,” but this idea was struck down by the Interstate Commerce Commission as violating federal anti-trust legislation.

During a spate of interest in aviation shares on Wall Street following Charles A. Lindbergh‘s trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, Seaboard Air Line shares actually attracted some investor curiosity because of the name’s aviation-related connotations; only after noticing that Seaboard Air Line was actually a railroad did investors lose interest.[2]

The CSX Abbeville sub (Tucker, Lilburn, etc) is the major remaining Seaboard line in the Atlanta area. The line west of Atlanta became the Silver Comet Trail.

Some of the “belt” lines were built as main lines

From this history of the Georgia, Carolina & Northern Railway:

Organized in December, 1886 to build a rail line from Monroe, N.C., near Charlotte, to Atlanta, the GC&N began construction in North Carolina in 1887. The line was completed to a connection with the Georgia Railroad at Inman Park on the east side of Atlanta in 1892.

Ok so it sounds like the original route of what eventually became the CSX Abbeville subdivision was the line that is now considered the “Inman Park belt”, rather than the current main line that runs from Emory to Howells yard. Hmm. That’s actually a shorter route. Why did they change it?

Because an injunction stopped the new line from entering the city of Atlanta from the east, the GC&N was forced to construct the Seaboard Air Line Belt Railroad in 1892. This eight-mile line branched off the GC&N at Belt Jct. (near Emory University) and ran west to a connection with the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway at Howells. By use of trackage rights over the NC&StL, GC&N trains were able to enter Atlanta despite the injunction.

Shenanigans! I don’t know what this “injunction” was, whether it was the work of competitors or of what you’d now call NIMBYs, but it looks like we have legal entanglements to thank for the current layout.

Now it gets even more interesting when considering Norfolk Southern and its predecessors. This 1872 map shows the Atlanta & Richmond Air-Line Railway, the earliest predecessor to NS’s Piedmont division line, connecting to the Georgia as well! That is, the line that is now the Atlanta BeltLine east-side trail was also the main line of its original railroad. The line around the north to connect to Howells seems to have been built later. (It is shown on the 1895 topographic map)

Incidentally, I don’t know that the “Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line” or its reorganized form “Atlanta and Charlotte Air-Line” ever had any association with the better known Seaboard Air-Line. I doubt it, but it seems to have been using the “air-line” name before the more famous road.