RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guide to
This guide is all about signals.
Both Norfolk Southern and CSX are replacing legacy signals at a rapid pace, witness the changeover in Altoona and Baltimore. Not only are PL and CPL signals quickly disappearing, but older colorlight and searchlight installations as well. Classic colorlight signals such as those employed by the Southern and the C&O are being replaced too, in favor of the "darth vader" type installations on all (no maintenance required) aluminum structures.
The I-85 corridor is home to a vast array of items of interest to the railfan. If we look at the area map below, you have the Southern Rwy Spencer Shops museum up the road, as well as Charlotte, Gastonia, Highpoint, and Ashville to name but a few.
The main N-S line going through here used to the Southern Railway's Atlanta Line. This can be seen on the USGS maps at the bottom of the page.
Gaffney gets a mention because of the cool water tower (and food, and gift shops, AND great peaches) located there :-)
Also, if you're travelling thru, South Carolina usually has the cheapest gas prices on the trek between Atlanta and Raleigh.
Many thanks to Mike for taking the
pictures he took, and for taking the time to email them to me with the background
Getting to Blacksburg is easy via I-85. Depending on whether you're travelling north or south on the interstate, you have two exits for Blacksburg. Exit 100 for northbounders will put you on the Blacksburg Highway. Southbounders would want to take exit 102 for Mountain St.
1 Wooden Trestle
Although this bridge is very easy to see from the interstate, access to it is very difficult. There is a road going down to the bridge, but it is on private property and gated. Another road that parallels the interstate gets you close, but there is a barbed wire fence between you and the bridge, along with a briar patch of "sticky" bushes! Ouch. I know from personal experience trying to get close-ups. These pictures are from April 2007, before I had a fairly decent camera.
The track was once the Southern Railway's "SB" Line. The line ran from Kingville SC to Marion NC. Carolina Coastal still uses the portion from Kings Creek to Blacksburg. The rail bed beyond Kings Creek was ripped up years ago, as was the track past PPG in Shelby (MP 160) towards Marion. This line was known for using a "spacer" car between two engines due to the weight limitation of the curved trestle over Buffalo Creek, about half a mile west of this location. (Thanks to Mike for this information)
BTW, York Highway (SC 5) follows the tracks pretty nicely on it's way over to Kings Creek.
2 At Broad River
This location is inaccessible by car, only a healthy hike along the river will get you here. The property surrounding the right-of-way is private property, marked as such if you come in from any other direction other than the river.
found on the internet
found on the internet
1 Grover Interlocking - MP 418.7
The signals here at Grover were cut over on Sunday, February 17th, 2013. For most of us, I'm sure it's a rare opportunity when you get to see both sets of signals lit at the same time. Grover is just over the state line in North Carolina, about 5 miles north of Blacksburg.
2 New Signals at MP 424.3
Before and after shots. Wouldn't you love to have the offset signal!
all Mike Falls
3 Signals at Broad River Interlocking
found on the internet
About 8 miles south of Gaffney, you will pass under the former Clinchfield bridge with a new set of "darth vaders".
From the University of Texas' collection of vintage USGS maps, the top two are from the 1907 Gaffney Quadrangle, the bottom one is from the 1906 Kings Mountain quadrangle.
The left one was taken in 2008, and altho it's about the same as the norm in 2013 (on the east coast, anyways), this was a very steep and expensive spike with the average being well under 3 bucks! "Normal" prices returned, as can be seen two years later in the right photo. And really, diesel is a by-product of the refining process to get gas, so who is getting screwed with the extra 70 cents a gallon on the left, and who is making a horrendous profit? And yes, I take pictures of everything :-) :-)
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names. Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations. I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area. Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature. While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make my trips a lot more interesting, like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!
Last Modified 17-Sep-2013