Tuscaloosa Railfanning

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[Webmaster's Note: This page was developed by Jeff Robertson, a former student at the University of Alabama. When he moved, he allowed me to put the page into Frograil, as a supplement to my Alabama pages. Other than linking the page to my style sheet, I've changed very little. I've not re-done the coding, nor has any attempt to update anything contained herein been made.

Norfolk Southern

Click here for a list of crossings.

The Norfolk Southern tracks in Tuscaloosa are the former Alabama Great Southern tracks, later absorbed by Southern. At one time this was known as the "Queen and Crescent City" route, from Cincinnati to New Orleans. This seems to be why there is a Queen City Avenue.

To the east, the tracks go to Birmingham, and to the southwest to Meridian, MS, by way of Eutaw, Boligee, Epes, York, etc. The NS are the busiest tracks in town, being part of the NS/KCS Atlanta-Dallas route. They were built sometime around 1852, as the Northeast and Southwest Alabama Railroad.

This is the route of both NS and KCS intermodal trains these days, as they have an agreement that trains can now run through the gateway between the railroads in Meridian.

The tracks are used by Amtrak, and there is a passenger station located downtown on Greensboro avenue at Hargrove Rd.

There is a small (tiny?) NS yard across Hargrove, and a cement plant between 17th St. and the 15th street overpass to the northeast of there. Switching duties usually fall to GP38's or GP38-2's, though I've also seen other types on occasion. Once there was even a GE B30-7A!

On the southwest side of town, there are a number of plants which have spurs and sidings off of the NS track. It is also in this area that the NS and KCS tracks cross. This crossing is watched over by an old abandoned tower.

Kansas City Southern

Click here for a list of crossings.

Kansas City Southern has tracks in Tuscaloosa that once belonged to two different railroads:

The effect of the changes that have taken place in the last 10 or 20 years is that a new Columbus-Birmingham route has been formed from the combined pieces of defunct Columbus-Montgomery and Tuscaloosa-Birmingham routes. A side effect is that the path taken through town by KCS trains is rather convoluted, with what were once spurs becoming part of the main line and vice versa.

All of the power seen on this line is 4-axle, with most of the locomotives being GP40-2s. If you want to see 6-axle KCS units, watch for intermodals on the NS line. GP38-2's are also seen, with a few still in the red-and-white paint scheme. GP10's still in their MidSouth livery are around, but they are not as common as they used to be.

There is a yard located downtown, west of Lurleen Wallace Blvd. Most of the yard is between Stillman Blvd. and 15th St., although according to what I've heard on the scanner, the yard limit may actually extend across the bridge. I don't know for sure. The MidSouth GP10's are often used for switching in this yard.

KCS has the only bridge over the river in this area, an ancient-looking wooden structure that is reputed to be one of the longest wooden trestles in the country. Counting the bridge over the river, the tracks are off the ground for about three-fifths of a mile. The longest continuous section on wooden poles is about two-fifths of a mile long. ( The part of the bridge that is over the river itself is not wooden, btw. )

Louisville and Nashville

Click here for a list of crossings.

Former L&N tracks shown in red are no longer in use (and no longer useable for most of their length).

Rails and ties remain on the eastern portions. Near the Water Works, for example, the tracks almost look as if a train could come barreling through any minute. For some reason, the city has neglected to take down the yellow "crossing ahead" signs on Helen Keller Drive, heightening the illusion that these are active tracks.

The tracks passed through the University of Alabama, but unfortunately nearly all traces of them have been obliterated from the campus. There are some rails embedded in a sidewalk, but that's about it.

West of campus the tracks themselves are gone but the built up right-of-way is still clearly visible, as it makes its way through the kudzu-filled gullies that separate the University from downtown Tuscaloosa.

Further downtown the trail becomes harder to follow, but I've followed it all the way to the bar on Greensboro avenue that calls itself "The Old Train Station".

Illinois Central Gulf

M&O originally had tracks (shown in blue) running southeast to Montgomery through Duncanville, Centerville, etc., but after ICG sold it this section was completely dismantled and the right-of-way has been sold to local landowners.

A friend of mine who is a former resident of Duncanville said this happened when she was 11, which means it would have been around 1986 or so. This is confirmed by some locals that I questioned in the town of Stokes.

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