An Article by Steven Holmes
The Georgia Railroad was one of CSX Transportation’s earliest predecessors, incorporated in 1833. For the next 150 years, it filled the transportation needs for generations of Georgians, in the process gaining fame that greatly outsized its modest route structure. The “Georgia Road”, as it was and is still known, was destroyed in the Civil War during Sherman’s March To The Sea, but quickly recovered, becoming a critical link to the Western & Atlantic in what became known as Atlanta. The name “Atlanta”, by the way, was coined by the Georgia Road’s Chief Engineer J. Edgar Thomson after his new railroad reached the W&A connection at what was then called “Marthasville.”
In the early 20th century, the Georgia Road came under the control of the L&N and ACL – “Family Lines” was born long before the name ever appeared on rolling stock. Around 1916 the Georgia Road began using its distinctive arched logo on timetables and other printed materials, but it never appeared on a locomotive until the first EMD F3A was delivered in 1948. This unit was delivered in a blue and aluminum scheme, and blue paint would be the Georgia Road’s signature diesel color for roughly the next 20 years—more on that shortly.
The red and white logo also came to adorn everything from depot exteriors to hardhats and matchbooks, along with two generations of EMD products, and became famous as the Georgia Road gained fame in the 1970s for staying out of Amtrak and operating mixed train service until after the Seaboard System merger in 1983. The last mixed train out of Atlanta bowed out in style behind SBD GP38-2 6051, the “Frankin M. Garrett”, which was the second to last locomotive purchased by the Georgia Road, and still works for CSX today as number 2702.
The Georgia Road logo adorned EMD’s, from the earliest F3 and NW2, up until it was last applied in 1979 to Family Lines repainted GP7 number 1020. It gradually disappeared from view, last seen on black CSX GP40-2 number 6390. Gone, but certainly not forgotten.
Fast forward to 2015—CSX begins to recognize predecessor railroads by applying their heralds to repainted locomotives, beginning with “SCL” AC4400 number 256. Gradually, a number of historic predecessors were recognized. In fall 2018, CSX selected almost new ET44AH number 3415 to carry the Georgia Road emblem. The Scotchlite decal was fabricated, then applied to a very clean 3415 right after the GE participated in a ceremony for a new CREATE project to enhance operations for CSX and other railroads in the Chicago area.
Suddenly, the famed arched logo had reappeared, and it looked great, juxtaposed with CSX’s blue paint, reminding many of the Georgia F’s, Geeps, and EMD switchers that displayed much the same look on their noses, cabs, or hoods. 3415 seemed to become a fan favorite—featured in a Trains Magazine article, followed closely on social media, and frequently appearing in online videos. Today, 3415 continues to proudly carry the logo of “The Old Reliable” around CSX’s vast system, bringing smiles to those who remember “the Georgia Road” and perhaps enlightening those that do not. It’s a great tribute to one of CSX’s most famous and beloved predecessors.
About the Author
Steven Holmes grew up in Conyers, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. A railroad enthusiast since he was a toddler, Holmes remembers riding Georgia Road trains in his teenage years. Later on, he would witness industry changes after the rise of CSX. Today, he is employed by Bone Safety Signs. He still lives in Conyers a whopping quarter mile from the depot – with his twin daughters who are attending Wofford College and George Washington University. Things have changed, but CSXT 3415 still carries the “Spirit of the Georgia Railroad,” and the Conyers depot has also regained the iconic herald.