Sunday, September 6, 1981

77. Still Duluth

Day 77:  Sunday, September 6, 1981

Today may be the day I cycled the farthest without getting anywhere.  I'm right back behind the railway museum again.

A cyclist from Norcross buzzed by the museum just as I pulled up stakes this morning.  We rode together for a few miles (that workout really gave me an appetite!), and he steered me in the right direction for breakfast:  the Original Pancake House on Peachtree Road, just southwest of Oglethorpe University.  This morning, the line at the door was half an hour long, but the wait was worth it.  I ordered an apple pancake.  It was superb, and would have filled an ordinary person up.  I would have ordered again, but the waitress never returned.

I shared the breakfast table with another cyclist - a French pastry chef who now lives in Atlanta.  He had just completed a bicycle tour which took him to Texas, then Connecticut, and down the coast to Jacksonville.  He has worked just about everywhere, and loves to travel, never staying at the same job very long.  He quit his job at the Hilton for his summer trip, and promptly found another when he returned.

After breakfast, I headed for Lenox Square to sign up for tomorrow's Bicycle Morning.  The bike ride starts at 8:00, so I'll have to get up early in the morning.  And the criterium at 10:00 would be interesting.  Top racers from Georgia and national teams, including the Stetina brothers, are competing for $3000 in cash prizes.

Southeastern Railway Museum
Work crew at the Southeastern Railway Museum
I had planned to ride around downtown Atlanta, but it was already noon and the traffic was picking up, so I headed back to the railway museum.  It was open by this time, but not much was going on.  This museum is a poor relative of those in Denver and Roanoke.  There is plenty of rolling stock, but there are no maintenance facilities or regular operating sessions, although several pieces are in operating condition.  Those engines are a 1952 diesel from the Southern Railway's Crescent Limited passenger train, a 1953 0-6-0 switcher built for the army, and a Heisler that has been used in logging and quarry operations.  Also on hand, but not running, are Atlanta & West Point 2-8-0 #290, which at one time sat in an Atlanta park and now needs $200,000 in repairs; a 1919 diesel-electric freight motor, and a Piedmont  Northern electric freight motor that has almost the same body as the diesel.  A fireless 0-4-0 that once worked in an industrial switching yard is sitting on a flatcar, and an Atlanta man is rebuilding an Atlanta trolley car on one of the tracks.  A turntable is awaiting installation, but that project will cost an estimated $100,000.  Railroading is an expensive hobby.

The men here say that the Tennessee Valley Railway Museum in Chattanooga is excellent.  It has a full-time director (who can solicit funds) and three miles of former main-line track that is in excellent (45 mph) condition.  They also mention that Southern has merged with Norfolk & Western, and plans to restore the huge J-6 locomotive #611 that is now at the Roanoke museum for excursion passenger service.  [Note from the future:  In 1981, Norfolk Southern restored #611, and used her in excursion service until 1994.  The museum is once again trying to return #611 to service.

Well, railroad interests managed to occupy the entire afternoon.  I wheeled into Duluth to buy more film and grab a bite (no more home cooking on this trip!), then came back to the museum to set up camp.  As you can see, I didn't accomplish much, but it was an interesting day.

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