sal line, jax to kingsland ga : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

CSX now operates the old SAL line that used to run near the coast from Jax to Savannah, now only to Kingsland GA. This line has a branch to Fernandina Bch, and also the St. Marys RR. Interested in current operations on this line. How far above Kingsland does it go, and what customers are up there? Who are the customers for St Marys RR, govt only or are there others? Any customers besides the paper mills at Fernandina. What are car counts for these "outposts"? What are operations patterns, totally random or is there a schedule of sorts? How are drawbridges at Trout River and over the ICW at Fernandina operated, are there bridgetenders on duty, automatic by dispatchers, or do crews get off train to operate the bridges? Thanks for any info.

-- bob lowry (, June 12, 2000


The Kingsland line ends a few miles north of town, and the St. Marys junction, at a place called Seals. There is a load out and run around track here. The principal commodities at Seals are aggregates and perhaps some wood products. The St. Marys railway serves a paper mill in St. Mayrs as well as the Military Base and perhaps a few other customers. The CTC was turned off when the line was down graded and partially abandoned beginning in the mid 1980's. The signal toweres were still up a few years ago but the signal heads were turned away from the rails. They may have been removed by now. The segment between Riceboro(papermill) and Seals has been removed, including bridges. I beleive there are plans to convert the abandoned portions into a rail trail. Any news on the status of this proposal?

-- Bill McCord (, July 17, 2001.

I used to photograph the line in late 1997 and early 1998. There were two trains which departed Waycross about 0530 and 0600, traveled the ex-ACL main to JAX, turned up toward the Trout River bridge and rumble over the bridge between 0730 and1000. The first train went to the beach, while the second train went on toward Kingsland. On many occasions there would be six axle power (C40-8Ws or SD50s) on the trains and they would have between 45-65 cars depending on the day. If I am not mistaken the trains ran every day except Sunday. The Line was dark north of Jacksonville as I remember. If operations are still the same, you can photograph both trains with reasonable light at the Trout River bridge early enough to avoid the heat and extreme sun angles. Hope this information helped.

-- Scott Lofreddo (, June 15, 2000.

Hello Mark, thank you. Hand operated draw is a real antique. I vaguely remember as a boy growing up in S. Florida the auto swing bridges were operated by hand, but those were all motorized years (decades) ago. Amazing that a major RR like CSX would still have a hand operated drawbridge. The one on the Fernandina line is a swing span too, wonder if it is manual also. Is the Kingsland line still signaled or dark territory?

-- bob lowry (, June 13, 2000.

Hi Bob; I can tell you first hand that the Trout River swing bridge is manually operated by a hand crank. A friend of mine was fortunate enough to be out that way when the tender came out of his shanty with a large crank (resembling a crank shaft or an auger), stuck it into the deck of the bridge and methodically cranked the bridge closed. Trains on that line typically have grain for the breweries out that way (Seagrams and Budweiser), and wood chips for the large paper and cardboard plants in Fernandina. I've seen some 40-60 cars in length typically pulled by four axle geeps. Also, unit coal trains travel that route enroute to the JEA coal fire plant....those trains are over 100 cars in length typically pulled by newer six axle trios.

-- Mark V. Huband (, June 12, 2000.

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