MyTopo – Online Maps – these are older USGS topo maps overlayed with some such as forest service road numbers. In spite of some maps being outdated, the simple interface makes for a quick reference.
Georgia DOT Maps – Index to county road maps, which are basically the only maps online that actually show the paved or dirt status of all roads outside of national/state forests! Reasonably up to date. Unfortunate interface requires downloading individual county maps one by one.
Trails Off-Road Map – detailed trail guides for individual roads, including photos, videos, reviews. Requires sign-up with email address, facebook, etc. Some features (including to view all trails on the map at the same time) require paid membership.
Because while writing about wide nose variations I realized there also didn’t really exist such a catalog of non-wide cabs. Conventional road-switchers only!
Except for the railroad custom jobs at the end, standard cabs are not being built new since the 1990s. However, so many were sold over the years that they remain ubiquitous in all situations other than the lead unit on a mainline train: trailing power, locals, switching; not to mention museum-pieces.
Early high nose
The classic, original EMD look of the 1950s. Used on early road-switchers such as the GP7, GP9, GP18, etc.
Early low nose
Used on a very small number of GP9s, and then on GP18, GP20, etc. The factory low nose sloped downward from back to front. I have seen divided and undivided windshields, not sure if both are original or not.
Early, chopped nose
Most of the low-nose first generation EMD’s are the result of modification by the owners. These vary wildly in appearance depending on who rebuilt them and when.
Unique design, never used again, but serving as a transitional model between the generations before and after.
If you think that looks unusual, check out the high hood version:
Standard, aka “Spartan” Cab
This is the normal basic EMD cab, the face of US railroading for decades. Introduced with the GP35 in 1963 and used up through the SD70.
Final models (SD70s, some SD60s and GP60s) have a housing on the side of the nose for the “ICE” (Integrated Cab Electronics).
Standard, high nose
Associated with Southern and N&W. Considered more crashworthy than the low version. (It was also cheaper for a long time) These kept their high short hoods well into the NS era.
Elongated nose to hold early radio control equipment. Used only on SD40-2 – taking advantage of the model’s long frame.
Used only for demonstration units, this is the standard cab with the edges rounded off.
GE’s standard cabs had generally stubbier noses than their EMD counterparts.
There are probably more variations than shown here, but one so rarely encounters older GEs that I’ve never had a reason to try to learn more about it than this.
Early version, low nose
Characteristic of U-boats, Dash-7s. Short, “round but square” nose, rounded roof.
The side view shows how short the nose really is:
Note the first model, the U25B, had a longer nose than its successors.
Early version, high nose
Southern ordered their GE’s with a high nose, because of course they did.
Transitional design used on early Dash-8s. The nose is more like the next version, but the round roof is still round. Notice the roof is lower than than body behind it.
Seen on Dash-8s and the small number of Dash-9s that were not built with wide cabs. The roof is angled instead of round, and matches the height of the overall body. The nose has sharper angles and is not as blunt as the Dash-7 version.
All of these are museum pieces now, but relevant in the history of road-switcher design.
Used on RS-1, RS-2, RS-3, etc., all the way back to 1941. These were by far the most popular ALCO models, so this is the look usually associated with the builder. The short hood is the same height as the long hood, but the cab is notably taller than both.
Later models are “rounder” than the RS-1.
1st version, chopped
No low-nose alternative was offered for these early ALCOs. But like their EMD counterparts, they ended up getting chopped every which way, resulting in a snoot almost like an SD40-2.
2nd version, high
Starting with the RS-11 they made the hood as tall as the cab, and changed the shape of the nose.
2nd version, low
The lowered version of the same nose as above. There appear to have been both one- and two- window variants.
The length of the nose compared to its height is truly crocodilian, especially on the 6-axle RSD-15. The “Alligator” is disproportionately famous for a model that sold only in the double digits.
On the even less successful RS-27, they shortened the nose down to a mere stub of its former self.
The Century Series featured a totally new look. They simplified the look of the nose, and angled the front windows. Most models had a very short GE-like nose. The C420 had a different, longer nose than the others.
Santa Fe CF7 Cab
The CF7 program to rebuild F-Units into a road-switcher involved an oddly proportioned parody of the standard EMD cab. Both rounded and angular roofs were used.
NS Admiral Cab
This is used by NS for some of their rebuilds. It is similar to the EMD standard cab, but with sharper edges, higher number boards (which go above the roof), and windows angled outwards (from bottom to top).
CSX “Dash 3” Cab
Some of CSX’s rebuilds use this blocky design which is very controversial among railfans.
Similarities to the cab used on various NRE Genset models have been noted, but they are not so identical as to suggest that CSX simply bought the cabs from NRE.
There have been several flavors of wide-nose / wide-cab designs over the years. I have not seen a site that has pictures of all on one page. So here they are in rough chronological order.
This article covers only hood unit and cowl units. Carbodies and monocoque designs are a different subject altogether.
The earliest version from 1967 had no crash safety benefits over a standard cab, and was designed purely for aesthetic reasons. Created for the cowl units FP45 and F45, the same design was also used on the DDA40X hood unit.
Passenger-only no-steps version
This was similar to the first design, but lacked stairways and handrails. Used most notably on the ill-fated SDP40F of 1973, and F40C. All locomotives with this cab were cowl units.
The first ones built had a nose almost exactly like the FP45:
On subsequent units the point of the nose, where the door was, was flattened.
When the SDP40F was put into freight service as the SDF40-2, stairs and cutouts in the nose were added.
Unique and unmistakable for anything else, especially by EMD. The F40PH of 1975 featured a much simpler nose design than its older cousins, and became the face of Amtrak for the next 20 years.
GE, like EMD, produced wide-nosed cowl units for passenger service. Unlike the EMD counterparts, these appear to be one-offs, not part of the overall evolution of cab design. Not very many of these were ever built, and none survive.
Canadian Comfort Cab
The true “Canadian” Cab was created by CN in 1973. This was the first cab that was designed with crew safety in mind. All units with this design were originally sold in Canada but a number have been resold to US railroads and can be seen on shortlines and lease fleets.
For many years, US railfans tended to call almost any freight locomotive with a wide nose a “Canadian Cab”, as wide nose designs didn’t catch on down here until the early 90s.
The actual Canadian version can easily be distinguished by the four front window panes. Unlike the earlier (and most later) EMD designs, these windows are vertical rather than slanted back.
CN continued to order these from multiple manufacturers into the 90s, when they switched to the same 2-window models as US railroads.
Used on GP38-2W, GP40-2LW, GP40-2W, SD40-2W, possibly others.
Differs from the contemporaneous EMD design by the shape of the windows.
Looks very similar to the EMD one, but on a GE locomotive. Used on C40-8M, C44-9LW, possibly others.
Unmistakable 3-window design. Otherwise very similar to the Canadian cab. Introduced circa 1988 and used for the SD40-2F, F59PH, and the earliest orders of SD60M. This can still be seen on mainline freights, but is rare and much sought after by railfans.
EMD North American Safety Cab
The most numerous EMD variation, starting in 1990. “North American” means the cab was sold in both the US and Canada, unlike earlier versions that were only for one country or the other.
Note superficial resemblance to the original 1967 design, particularly the shape of the windows. One visible, though small, difference is the nose on these is slightly tapered and the corners are more rounded.
Used on SD60M, SD60MAC, SD70M, SD70MAC.
Sante Fe offset-light version
Designed by Sante Fe and used only for the GP60M. This design has a headlight that is not actually in the center of the nose but just to the right of center when facing the locomotive. Unlike the standard EMD wide cab, the nose is not tapered and looks more like the FP45 cab.
This looks nearly identical to the standard version, but was the first EMD cab isolated to reduce noise and vibration. A vertical seam is visible on the side of the nose. Used on SD60I, SD70I, SD80MAC, early SD90MAC.
Later “notched” version
Used on late examples of SD70M and SD70MAC. Nose has a slightly taller mid-section to accommodate full-height door, resulting in a somewhat “notched” appearance. The whole nose is less rounded and more angular than before, and no longer tapered.
Current Design, “more notched”
Late SD90MAC-H (1999), SD70ACe (2004-2014), SD70M-2, and several others. The nose is deeply notched to improve visibility. The distinctive teardrop window shape of earlier designs is gone.
On the SD70ACe-T4 produced since 2015, the nose shape is simplified – but still deeply notched – and the original EMD window shape has returned.
General Electric, Current Design
Unlike the constantly changing EMD, GE’s cab/nose design basically looks the same on nearly models since 1990. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
There are thousands on the rails, the most likely thing to see leading any mainline train. Examples include Dash-8, Dash-9, AC4400CW, ES44AC, ES44DC, etc.
This one-off prototype was created in 1988 from a B40-8.
Canadian Dash-9 “Australian” Cab
This seems to have been used in North America only on CN C44-9W’s, and on several GE models sold to the Australian market. Notice the EMD-like front windowpane shape.
Norfolk Southern Crescent Cab
Used for the SD60E rebuild program. This cab is designed by NS and manufactured by Curry Supply.
NS has a similar cab built by RLS that is used on the Dash-8.5 rebuilds.
This post gathers the information I’ve been able to find about the Roswell Railroad, one of the almost-completely vanished and forgotten rail lines of the Atlanta area. This was branch of Southern Railway that operated between Chamblee and Roswell from 1881 to 1921.
The town of Chamblee was originally called “Roswell Junction”.
However, feeling the name of the settlement was too similar to nearby Roswell, they randomly selected Chamblee from a list of petitioners for the new post office name.
The railroad followed very roughly the present-day Chamblee-Dunwoody Road to the center of old-town Dunwoody, where the building located at 5518 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road was a section house.
The original Dunwoody depot was later moved and used as “Thompson’s Store”, but this building no longer remains.
The line never actually reached Roswell, as the company was never able to build a bridge across the Chattahoochee. It ran along Roberts Drive and what is now Dunwoody Place, and ended near the present North River Tavern. This station was referred to as “Roswell” by the railroad. The engine house was “moved to by the river for use as a barn”.
Roberts Drive is named after Isaac “Ike” Roberts, the “only engineer of the Roswell Railroad”, whose house still stands at 9725 Roberts Drive.
The final stop was Roswell Station, on the south bank of the Chattahoochee River, just east of the current Roswell Road. There was no means to turn the locomotive around, so it simply ran backwards on its return trip. The train was powered by 0-6-0-arranged Baldwin 1878 steam locomotive named “Buck.”
The railroad famously was used by Teddy Roosevelt when he visited Bulloch Hall in 1905.
Theodore Roosevelt, who had begun his presidency on reasonably good terms for a half-northerner president, had infuriated the South by inviting Booker T. Washington to dine in the White House. Consequently, he waited a few years until the episode blew over and finally visited Bulloch Hall for the first time while touring the South in 1905. He was thought to be the first sitting President of the United States to visit the South since the end of the American Civil War, however this is incorrect as William McKinley had visited the South earlier while celebrating the victory of the Spanish–American War.
It looks like I need to be paying a visit to the Roswell Visitors Center.
Here I reproduce information from the Norfolk Southern and CSX timetables. I have many times wished I had this to pull up on my iphone in a form other than the bulky PDFs this data is from.
Stations marked “not in timetable” represent signals that trains have been observed to call out (“Clear Doraville, NS 203 southbound”) over the scanner. NS generally does not list intermediate signals (between control points) in their timetables, but they may be shown on their track diagrams. Not sure about CSX.
Text in italics is additional commentary, not from timetable.
First, a “British subway map” of these lines. Obviously not to scale.
Picking up where the last one left off, this gets you out of the burbs and into the woods. At the northern end, it gets you into the mountains, even.
The route through Gainesville is rather arbitrary and I’m not sure how close it follows the divide.
You are pretty much running parallel to US 23 (when you are not actually on US 23) all the way.
The early parts of this route are very close to Lake Lanier.
From Lula through Mt. Airy, you are running directly beside the Norfolk Southern main line.
I have only been as far north on this route as Alto, so I can’t really say what the remainder of it looks like.
The end point here looks to be about as far as you can follow the ECD on public roads. From here, the ECD turns westward and generally forms the Habersham/Rabun county border until meeting the Tennessee Valley Divide at Young Lick. I don’t see any roads that directly follow this ridge, not even dirt Forest Service roads. From Young Lick, the ECD continues north on the Appalachian Trail. At that point, following the divide becomes more of a matter of hiking than driving.
Start on Aviation Blvd, continue east from last time
Right on GA 60
Left on West Ridge Rd
Right on Athens St
Left on East Ridge Rd
Left on Old Cornelia Highway
Right on US 129
Left on White Sulphur Rd
Left to stay on White Sulphur Rd
Left on Cagle Rd
Right on GA 52
Sharp left on GA 51
Continue onto Main Street (Lula)
Continue onto Gainsville Highway
Continue onto Old Cornelia Highway
Continue onto Willingham Ave
Continue onto Main Street (Cornelia)
Right on Highland Ave
Left to stay on Highland Ave
Continue on Chenocetha Dr
Right on Wyly St
Continue on Dicks Hill Pkwy
Left on Rock Rd
Left on Antioch Church Rd
Right on US 23/US 441
Right on John Wood Rd
Left on Tom Born Rd
Right on Old Historic US 441
Left on The Orchard Rd
Right on Bear Gap Rd
One of the constant elements of southeastern railfanning is kudzu, sumac, honeysuckle, wisteria – you know, weeds. As summer turns to fall, we have one last chance to appreciate all that luscious green foliage.
Trains sneak out of the underbrush like wild animals.
In a few months this will all be gray and brown.
By the way, Pokeweed was traditionally used as a source of food in the South and in Appalachia even though it is toxic. I guess our ancestors would rather risk being poisoned by their food than not having any at all.
Sumac, visible in most of these shots, has some species that are used as flavorings (such as for tea), but I wouldn’t try it with this wild stuff.
Edit: this is probably Rhus glabra, smooth sumac. It is supposed to be edible, although it is not the same species cultivated for tea.
Kudzu leaves are edible as well but in the South you never know that the kudzu you pick wasn’t sprayed with something nasty in an unsuccessful attempt to kill it.
All these plants attract bees and wasps, which were buzzing around during these shots, although it was kind of hard to hear them over the trains.
Near the town of Tunnel Springs in southwest Alabama is a feature normally reserved for more mountainous areas: a railroad tunnel, abandoned for years, and relatively easy to find.
The tunnel is located up the abandoned line past the north end of what is now the Alabama Railroad. Wikipedia gives us the date of construction of the tunnel as 1899:
The route of the Alabama Railroad was originally constructed over several years (between 1880–1901) as the Pensacola & Selma Railroad and quickly became a part of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad network. The original line proceeded north from Corduroy, Alabama to Selma, Alabama. That portion of the line was abandoned by the Seaboard System prior to the merger with CSX in 1986. There was also a L&N branch that went to Camden from a junction just northeast of Corduroy that was abandoned prior to the merger into the Seaboard System in 1986. The remainder of the line north of Peterman, Alabama was abandoned approximately 1994 to include an 800+ foot tunnel built in 1899 located at Tunnel Springs, Alabama.
This should not be confused with the similarly-named and situated Alabama and Gulf Coast Railway, the former Frisco line only a few miles to the west.
As I’m always looking for things to do on that long stretch of Nowhere, Al, between Mobile and Montgomery, I decided to go find it. After looking at some topo maps, I got a pretty good idea of where it was.
This link in Google Maps gets you to a location where a trail that used to be the tracks crosses the road: