Railroad operations little affected by Southern forest fires

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Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630 and 2-8-2 No. 4501 teamed up for doubleheaded steam excursions in Tennessee and Georgia the weekend of Nov. 12. The haze of burning forest fires tempered an otherwise picturesque weekend. The excursions operated with a water crew trailing the locomotives that were prepared to douse any blaze that coal embers might spark.
Kevin Gilliam
ATLANTA — Railroads operating in the southeastern United States seem to be mostly unaffected by the more than 30 wildfires burning in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This area is experiencing severe drought conditions, with the last rainfall occurring in mid-October. Hundreds of people have been hospitalized with respiratory problems caused by the smoke, and states of emergency have been declared in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

Norfolk Southern and CSX, the two largest railroads in the region, have not issued service alerts associated with the fires, although air quality in many areas is poor. Officials with the Blue Ridge Southern, a Watco property that operates the former Norfolk Southern Murphy branch in North Carolina say that certain on-line customers who rely on river water for their operations have had to slow production due to the drought, affecting the railroad’s traffic volume.

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum ran a double-header excursion behind ex-Southern Railway steam engines Nos. 630 and 4501 on Nov. 12 and 13 from Chattanooga, Tenn., to northwest Georgia. As a precautionary measure, railroad personnel rode behind the train on a hi-rail vehicle loaded with water in case sparks from the engines started a blaze, but this did not happen.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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