How did trains turn on SAL Ocilla branch local? : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I read in the Beckum SAL book that the Savannah-Montgomery local also switched the Ocilla branch. I know there was a wye in Abbeville, GA where they came off the main, but how did they turn a full train at Ocilla? Someone once told me the SAL actually had a reversing loop (if so, modellers take note!). I could also use some help on industries they switched at and motive power used.Also, did the local making the Ocilla turn change crews at Americus or Videlia? Maybe neither? Thanks, Bud Leggett

-- David L.(Bud)Leggett (, June 15, 2001


Eric:Sorry to take so long getting to your question about the ex- Chessie System caboose(yeah, I know-railroad secret-it's not what it really is, and "is" doesn't mean "is"). I don't know about 2001 CSX operations on what's left of the Ocilla Branch, but I do know they used to use the "shoving platform" on the local-this would have been 1989 or 1990-the last time I lived in Fitzgerald. What they're doing with it now? Who knows? From the way it looks now, that cab's rusting away, but it looked like they had it tacked onto the back of a train they'd pulled into the yard. I suppose CSX has this "can't live with them, can't always live without them" approach to those old warhorses.

-- Bud Leggett (, August 20, 2001.

Eric - I have seen the Fitzgerald switcher and the "shoving platform" caboose a couple of times in recent years on the main between the yard and the Ocilla branch remnant, and then going down the spur to the Mopar plant. Regarding the signals, it looks like CSX has settled on the new style signals whenever the old ones are to be replaced or new locations added - thus they are turning up on new trackwork and when new intermediate signals are installed, for example. I don't know how long CSX will let the other 1950-vintage US&S signals stay in place - but so far the RR seems in no hurry to change them out. I hope not, since to me they are really symbolic of the line.

-- Larry Goolsby (, August 01, 2001.

Bud,I believe that the CSX Fitzgerald switcher nowadays ,at least it was a few months ago when I was last down there, is a GE B23-7. All of the CSX U-18B's were bumped to work train service where they received the 'pumpkin' scheme. Alas, I believe I recall reading in Trains recently that CSX has retired these engines. About that ex- B&O 'shoving platform' at the yard, does it ever venture out with the switcher on the old A,B & C mainline or down the SAL Ocilla branch to the Mopar plant? While I have taken pictures of it in the yard, I think it would be neat to photograpgh on a freight run.Finally, do you or anyone else know if CSX plans to replace all of the original 1950's ,ACL-installed, 'target' CTC signals on the ex-A,B & C main line with those modern, three bulb signals? I have seen this in a few places around there already...just wondering Thanks!

-- Eric Rickert (, July 29, 2001.

Hi,Dan... Wow!Thanks-great answer,lots of details!I grew up in Fitzgerald in the late 70s and remember many of the industries you mentioned..I used to make trips up to Tolleson Lumber Co. as a teenager to get sawdust for my father's store....I'll bet the 6-axle SAL engines you were talking about were Alco RSC's-the SAL bought them just to operate on lines like Savannah-Mont and the Ocilla branch because there was less weight on each axle(very important for running on a "Bermuda"line!)I remember seeing GE's on locals going toward Ocilla- they'd switch off the ex-SAL and work that big silo in South Fitz, too. Even now, CSX is using a little GE job(looks like a U18-could it be?)to do local Fitzgerald switching.Don't tell anybody, but there's this strange-looking thing they run on the end with windows on it.It doesn't seem to be able to haul anything except people. CSX calls them "shoving platforms",but I think they used to be known as "Cabooses".......Thanks again for the reply. Bud Leggett

-- David L.(Bud)Leggett (, July 07, 2001.

Bud, i'll try and answer some of your questions. i'm a native of Ocilla, Ga. i still live within 8miles of it and go there about twice weekly. for the last 22+yrs i've worked for CSX and predessor RR's out of Fitzgerald, Ga. i know a little bit of RR history in Ocilla and surrounding areas. i have seen a 1906 map of Ocilla in the Irwin County Courthouse that shows many tracks in Ocilla, however when i was a boy growing up in the late 1950's and 1960's the Seaboard Air Line RR ran into Ocilla, we called it the "tri- weekly". It ran out of Americus and into Ocilla where it tied up for the nite every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. the following morning it left for Americus. there was a wye track on the south edge of Ocilla where they turned the engines. there was one track each side of the mainline downtown where they switched up their train for the trip back to Americus. there was also a track that went into Ocilla Oil and Fertilizer Co. that if clear was just as long. the crew slept on the cab, except "Monkey Crandall", he was the engineer and the brother in law of Russell Hayes, who ran the local barber shop. Monkey walked past the barber shop to Russell's house and spent the nite there. There were showers inside the old freight house, that's no longer there. Many of my current coworkers came off the old "Bermuda Grass" railroad and worked this job out of Americus. From them, they say that it was always known as the Ocilla Local. it only ran to Ocilla and back to Americus. in late 1979, maybe 1980, SCL put in ribbon rail on this branch. i can't remember what year it was taken up. the line only goes about 2miles south of Fitzgerald now, however the roadbed is still visible in many places. the industries from Fitzgerald to Ocilla, let me try and remember them, Tolloson Lumber Co. was the 1st one south of Fitz, then Delco Battery Plant, from about 1975, then on to Whitley, where there was a farmer's co-op, empty covered hoppers in, corn out, then to Irwin Manufacturing, a underware factory, then to a house trailer plant that went by several different names, then to Tankersley Oil Co., to set out Gasoline or Diesel cars, or anhydrous ammonia, then to Weaver Milling co, another corn and peanut mill, then on to Luke's, a large mill for corn, peanuts and other farm products, then on to A. T. Fuller's Lumber Co. empty's in, lumber and chips out, then onto downtown where in addition to the Oil Co. previously mentioned, when i was a boy, stumps were loaded out, and rock was unloaded for local road projects right by the mainline, and occasionally new farm tractors would be unloaded by the old freight depot. i know i've rambled around a bit, but i wanted to fill in as much as i have observed in my life time, i'm 50 now. i don't know exactly what kind of motive power SAL used, i can't remember, but my working buddies say they had 6 axles but only 4 were powered. in my rr days we almost always used a GE U-18, because they were so light, until ribbon rail was laid, then whatever the road switcher used at Fitzgerald from then on. Dan Henderson

-- Dan Henderson (, June 29, 2001.

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