Atlanta Railfan Locations: Spilling the Beans on Howell

I actually hesitated to get to specific about where I was sitting when watching trains here for a while, because I’m still not entirely sure if you are supposed to be there or not. Whatever. Only my friends read this blog (and probably not even most of them), and I’ve already admitted to creeping around on property that was closed off due to “terrorism” threats..

First, a map. To find this area on Google maps, use these directions. Click on this image here to expand this map.

Now, this map shows several ways you can observe trains in this area, which I will explain here in no particular order.

  • Marietta Street Bridge – you will need to park somewhere near the bridge, and walk to it. There are times when such parking will be difficult to find. It provides an overhead view of both railroads’ lines headed downtown.
  • Foster Street – the street crosses the NS tracks and ends. There’s not a clear indication of where the street technically ends and where the railroads’ access roads begin. The crossing of NS is marked with a crossbuck as seen on all public road crossings. I’m fairly certain once you get to the CSX tracks, it’s railroad property. The area in between, seems like it would have to be either NS or CSX property. I have sat parked here without being run off, but YMMV.
  • 10th Street – there is a parking lot at the end of the street that never has any vehicles parked in it. There are “no parking/tow away” signs, but it seems to be fine for sitting in or near the car and observing trains. You are right next to the CSX. I have no idea whose parking lot this is. There is a chainlink fence between the parking lot and the tracks, but the gate is normally open and used by the railroads.
  • King Plow Parking Lot – this provides a view of the area where the two railroads’ wyes are closest to each other. There is a guard tower in this lot and a sign saying it is for King Plow use only, but I have never been messed with while parking here and sitting in the car to watch trains. You will be watching trains through a fence though. From here you can see the NS basically right across the fence, and CSX a little ways beyond that.
  • Bim’s Liqour Store – they clearly understand that their customers want to sit out behind the store by the tracks, because there is a picnic table back there and everything.  So if you are not the kind of person who is bothered by the idea of hanging out at a liquor store, this is a good place to watch trains. Buy something from the store since you are on their property after all.
  • Ye Olde Hole in the Fence – this is “it”. This provides basically the same view as the King Plow Parking lot, only you are now on the track side of the fence. The legality of this is… uncertain, but railfans go back there all the time just judging by the amount of photos and videos you see taken from back there. To get here, walk to the northeast corner of the parking lot of the vacant building to the east of Bim’s, which I believe was once a porn shop. There is a break in the fence right at the corner, that you can go through and make your way along a dirt path worn between the tracks and the fence. There is no picnic table, but there are some cinder blocks that can be used for sitting. I suggest bringing your own portable chair.

Now, some photos.

BNSF run-powered coal train on NS, I think train 734 or maybe 732, seen from the area behind the liquor store:

Now, about that hole in the fence. Recyled from an earlier post, this is what the hole itself looks like from the “beyond the fence” side:

IMG_5929.JPG

These are the cinder blocks mentioned:

IMG_5937.JPG

From back there you can clearly see one of the diamonds where the NS crosses the CSX main line:

IMG_5942.JPG

Here’s a pic of a train going through that diamond:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *