Duluth railroad museum offers glimpse into railroading heyday

DULUTH, Ga. — For 40 years, the Southeastern Railway Museum has been dedicated to the preservation of Georgia Railroad’s History.

“Georgia’s Official Transportation History Museum” first opened on a 12-acre site in Duluth donated by Southern Railway. The museum remained at that location until 1997, it moved just down the … tracks – literally.

That year, the museum accepted a donation of roughly 30 acres from Frank M. Ewing of Chevy Chase, Md. The site, previously used by J. J. Finnigan Railcar Co. for metal fabrication and repairs, was about one mile from the museum’s then current home.

With some help from Norfolk Southern, the museum “ferried” 79 pieces of rolling stock on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, 1998. Norfolk Southern closed its double track mainline for several hours on both days to allow the move to the vastly-larger site.

Over the years, the museum has been the beneficiary of dozens of pieces of rolling stock and locomotives. When open, the museum offers trips around its grounds and information for self-guided tours of its buildings.

A 1950 General Electric locomotive routinely pulls trains around the museum. The museum’s railroad exhibits include a number of passenger cars, maintenance-of-way equipment, cabooses and freight cars. In addition to the railroad exhibits, a number of historic buses also reside at the museum.

The former Duluth railroad depot was relocated to the museum in August 2008.

Some interesting pieces of rolling stock include:

  • U.S. Army No. 200 was built in 1944 by American Car and Foundry. It was used to prepare and serve food on troop trains. It was donated to the museum in 1966.
  • Savannah & Atlanta No. 750, a 4-6-2 locomotive was built in 1910 by American Locomotive Co. for the Key West expansion of the Florida East Coast Railroad. In the 1920s, the locomotive was wrecked and later rebuilt. The locomotive, which operated in the early days of Southern Railway’s steam program, last saw action pulling excursion trains on the New Georgia Railroad in the 1980s.
  • Seaboard Coast Line No. 301, better known as the “Superb,” was built by Pullman in 1911; it is the second-oldest steel private car in existence. Once of the museum’s “oldest and most prized” exhibits, President Woodrow Wilson at times used the car. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding used the car for a cross-country tour. Later, the car was used in a funeral train and carried his casket from San Francisco to Washington.
  • Southern Railway No. 6901 was built in 1951 by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors and was originally numbered 2924. In 1979, this engine powered the final running of Southern Railway’s Crescent passenger train.

For more info: The museum’s address is 595 Buford Highway in Duluth. For more information, log onto http://www.srmduluth.org/.

Todd DeFeo
About Todd DeFeo 233 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and The Travel Trolley.