Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hell of a Way to Run A Railroad

Hell of a Way to Run A Railroad
Murals, railroads and preservation are favorite themes and we're three for three at the Roundhouse Railroad Museum. This is a site which was preserved and is maintained by The Coastal Heritage Society of Georgia at Savannah.

The Central of Georgia Railway dates back to the 1830's. From this site they developed a state of the art facility which combined the diverse support systems into one consolidated compound. This was a great improvement over the scattered sites and fragmented services which railroads had gathered along the way. It was the equivalent of a modern, efficient and punctual commercial airline hub if only we had such a thing with which to compare.

Around 1950 the Southern Railway had absorbed the Central of Georgia. By 1960 the neglected site was abandoned and became another urban relic of a decaying area in Savannah. The well worn expression, "IT'S A HELL OF A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD", was coined in a 1920's cartoon depicting a signalman calmly observing the absolute chaos of a massive railway system. It finds a place here.

The passenger market of the American railway system was eclipsed by the rapid growth of the commercial airline industry from the 1960's forward. There was diminished incentive to acquire new rights of way or lay more track as the traveling public took to the air. Forty years later the land is too expensive and the paths of potential tracks are boxed in by paved roads and dense infrastructure. Now travel by air has become so problematic that it is worse than not reaching your destination. It's a hell of a way to run an airline.

If we can't get there on these four tires, we ain't going.


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