Remarks to the Georgia Society of Ferroequinologists, June 10, 2022

As prepared for delivery.

I’m excited to be here today — in person at that. I spoke to this group in November 2020 — virtually — about the Indiana, Alabama & Texas Railroad. Today, I’ll be highlighting a railroad a little closer to home: the Atlanta Northern Railway interurban line.

I have a short presentation today about the Atlanta Northern, and I am happy to take questions after that. I can promise answers to your questions but not accurate answers.

I spoke at the Georgia Archives earlier today. Actually, this is my third presentation today on the Atlanta Northern. So hopefully I have the basics down by this point.

When we look at railroad history, we tend to look at railroads like the Western & Atlantic. But there is a great interurban history in this country. While Georgia didn’t necessarily have the interurban network that other parts of the country had, we did have the Atlanta Northern running between Atlanta and Marietta.

When I first started my railfanning adventure and started exploring the train hobby, people always asked me what counted as a train. For example, did a monorail count? I always said it did.

Looking back, I feel like interurbans fall into that same category. As far as I’m concerned, they ran on two rails, so they could as railfanning. More than that, they were a critical part of the railroad story.

The Atlanta Northern began service on July 17, 1905. It operated between Downtown Atlanta and the Marietta Square, running until early 1947.

It survived the Great Depression, and it emerged as a vital transportation link during World War II. But ultimately, the best days of the Atlanta Northern were behind it. In quintessential Atlanta fashion, we opted for the motor vehicle, the enemy of the Atlanta Northern throughout its four decades of operation.