As some of you may remember, I am the vice chairman of the Southwest Georgia Railroad Excursion Authority, and I would like to extend an invitation to the entire MSTS community to ride the SAM Shortline. (Are you listening Atlanta group?)
Our official schedule begins the first weekend of October 2002, with trains departing Cordele at 10:00 a.m. Friday-Monday. The train passes through a beautiful rural landscape, stopping at historic towns such as Leslie, Americus, Plains, and the National Historic site of Archery. Americus, by the way, has one of the finest National Historic Register districts in Georgia, and Plains and Archery are the home of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The line also crosses beautiful Lake Blackshear on a long trestle.

Originally built as a narrow gauge railroad, the Americus Preston and Lumpkin, later known as the Savannah Americus and Montgomery, was the only railroad in Georgia constructed using entirely private local capital. The railroad would go on to become one of several lines consolidated by John Skelton Williams of Richmond, Virginia to form the Seaboard Air Line. For many years, Americus was the headquarters and shops of the Seaboard's Alabama Division.

Today, the mainline from Vidalia, Georgia to Mahrt, Alabama is owned by the State of Georgia and operated by the Heart of Georgia Railroad, which provides crew and power for the excursion train. Currently, the train is being pulled by a rebuilt GP9, HOG #1209.

Although regular trains will not start running until October, folks will be able to ride the train on July 13th during Cordele's Watermelon Festival. I am now in the process of organizing this surprise special, and so far it looks very likely that the train will be there. We will probably run several pull-pull trips from Cordele to Lake Blackshear beginning around 11:00 a.m. Tickets will be sold at the Watermelon Festival, most likely $8 for adults and $5 for children.

For more information about the SAM Shortline see http://www.samshortline.com .

Once plans are finalized for the 13th, I'll post another message. Hope to see many of you on board our trains!

Lee Kinnamon
Americus, Geaorgia
http://homepage.mac.com/lkinnamon