Tallulah Falls Railroad - Future Plans


This Blog is the natural continuation of the concluded one on the construction of a kitbashed TF RR #78 2-8-0, at http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/blog/19425  .

At the conclusion of the kitbash project I had done enough investigation to decide I will revise my previous layout plans and model the TF RR, with my big Southern equipment operating at the Cornelia Junction and beyond.  This is a natural extension of my plans, which I will draw up to show soon.

In the meantime, a timely visit to my local train store produced a first edition copy of ​Memories of a Mountain Shortline​, 1976, by the Foxfire Press, complete with insert poster with line drawings of #73 (4-6-0), the passenger coach, caboose X3, and the Graham County Railroad three-truck Shay; an invaluable resource.  This book, together with the Second (and longer) edition of The Tallulah Falls Railroad, a Photographic Remembrance document the little mountain shortline extensively.

This same visit produced dulux gold letters in railroad gothic, small enough to re-letter #78's cab with the complete "Tallulah Falls" rather than the abreviated T.F. R.R. it has now. I also found a used Bachmann Spectrum GE 70 ton diesel, just like the two owned by the TF RR, #501 and #502.  This is in Southern Pacific black and yellow, but will be repainted in TF RR early gray and black, with number 501.

The completed #78 2-8-0, a just received IHC 2-6-0 yet to be converted from its Union Pacific ways (#74), and a second MDC/Roundhouse 2-8-0 (#75) on the way will round up the steam roster, for now.  The year will bump from 1947 to 1949, the year the TF RR introduced diesel and started scrapping steam.

I will hopefully be able to document the three locomotive conversions here, the caboose construction or kitbashing if appropriate models can be found, the creation of the layout design and its construction, etc. in this blog.

I am looking forward to a lot of fun!



  RAGC : It is


It is interesting how '1ThingLeads2another'. I will be following this new blog with great interest as I have your blog 
on locomotive #78. Now that you have Memories of a Mountain Shortline, I'm sure you have found the picture of #78 on page 107 which I had mentioned  in a previous post.  It gives some good detail of #78 and a hint of the engine house and yard area in the mid 40's.  
Here is a website that has some very interesting info and pictures of  a G-Gauge model of the PANTHER CREEK TRESTLE built by Dess Oliver's class at Rabin Gap-Nacoochee School.  He and his students built and operate the TF Museum across the highway from the school on the original site of the TF right of way and station.
The Panther Creek Trestle wasn’t he longest on the TF but it was the highest-- 92 ft built on 4 tiers. The website has a brief description of the class project with some engineering specs about the trestle. I included one of the pictures to give you an idea of the scale of this thing ...........

Another thing to do!


Now I have to go back and find the museum in Toccoa!  LOL!  I was riding with my wife, sightseeing, when we visited Cornelia and Toccoa last time.  This time it has to be a concerted. planned trip to the museum. I just have to see this trestle model, since now, with my planned layout extension it is obligatory I build one or two of the trestles.  I have not set pencil to paper yet, but I also would like the steel bridge over what was the northern end of the Gorge at Tallulah Falls:  Concentrating all of this in one run will require some selective scene-making!

The book is very informative, actually.  I began reading it last night.  Trainmasters (my "local" train store which is 45 minutes away each way, in Roswell) had this first edition and a smaller, slicker "Conmemorative Edition", which was priced lower and tempted me.  The insert with drawings of the Foxfire Edition sold me.  The information I have gathered on the type of goods and the composition of trains has been very useful.  I expect that there awaits more valuable info in the still unread parts.  For example, I keep seeing photos of a three truck Shay lettered for the Graham County Railroad Company towards the second half of the book... makes me consider my two truck H0N3 unbuilt Shay and the possibilities. I also have a built 2 truck Shay, lettered for the Atlantic Steel foundry in Atlanta, which is part of the existing plan for the Southern Railways layout.  That Shay is in HO gage, and could be re-lettered if needed.  I also have have Mantua's "General" and an Old Timer MDC 2-6-0, so I can run them in the same trackage for Disney's filming in the 1950's, and for the TF RR's 1910-1920 period, since the buildings and trestles remained mostly unchanged the entire history of the shortline.

Anyway: lots of possibilities!  I am thrilled you, and Ken Rickman, steered me in this direction.  It will make for a very interesting and rewarding long-range project.

Future TF RR #s 74, 75, 501

Here is the starting point:

#75, another MCC/Roundhouse 2-8-0, is still in the mail.   #74, an IHC Union Pacific 2-6-0, and #501, a Bachmann Spectrum  Southern Pacific 70 ton GE diesel are here.  



#74 is an interesting problem: the factory detail is quite good, almost a shame to remove,  Some things, like the turned bell will be replaced. The marker lamps need to be moved to the boiler front, the headlight repositioned to the top of the smokebox, the pop valves to the top of the steam dome...  Most troubling are the right catwalk, which must be cut and raised for a second air tank: the molded steel texture is so good I must make a clean cut to be able to preserve it.  Also the entire pilot must be replaced, as the switcher pilot is totally out of character, and a requirement for me is a pilot with a working coupler up front.  On the other hand, the cab is good, although, ironically, #74 had an Old Timer, 4 window wood cab in the TF RR!  I will explore using one of the cabs removed from my MDC old timers and try to re-use this one elsewhere.  The tender is a bit long, but it can do.

The biggest job for #74 is backwards-dating the steam chests by scratch-building.  Ken Rickman has already shown how this can be done.





#75 needs the balloon stack replaced and pretty much everything I did to #78, except for the moving of the sand dome.  In #75 the sand dome is positioned as on the MDC boiler.

#501 needs very little: the front louvers need to disappear completely, the headlight and taillight need to be a single lamp type, the horn needs to go atop the cab.



I may take on DCC for the TF RR: since the tracks at the Cornelia Junction with the Southern do not connect, I can keep all my old Southern Railways, C of Ga RR, and Ga RR equipment running in DC, while retrofitting #78, #74, #75, and #501 to DCC!  That will essentially produce two totally different experiences in one layout and save me countless hours and expense.



#75 arrived today

...and it looks fantastic.  It was someone's detailing project, and in addition to the brass balloon stack (with screen/brass spark arrestor) it included brass single phase air compressors with brackets (2), brass old time headlight and tail light with lenses, one small brass pop valve, a brass sunbeam generator, and all of the plastic MDC parts in their trees, two lengths of handrail wire (it has brass handrails installed) and a load of scale cut firewood similar to what I cut for my wood burners (see photo above)..  Just the brass parts are worth more than what I paid for it, so I am happy.  One strange thing: the steam dome has a ring aroud the very top, and it is made of brass.  It does not appear to be glued onto the boiler, but part of it.  My other MDCs do not have this, and are not brass... ?!

I am stuck with my planning, though.  The issue is the configuration of the space I am to build the layout in: In order to have the TF RR and Southern junction at Cornelia I would have to have the TF RR come in on the east side of the Southern... I am not stuck up about taking liberties like that, but other aspects of the connection add to my doubts.  I need to lay off for a day and noodle it some more.  I will post my existing plan again soon, with my ideas for the connection, to see if anyone has a better way to suggest.

LKandO's picture

Artistic License

I flipped my yard 180 degrees from proto to make it fit and function in my space. Doubt anyone will ever notice. The beauty of modeling a small, obscure prototype.


All the details: www.LKOrailroad.com        Just the highlights: MRH blog

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

DKRickman's picture

Modeler's liscense

I too have taken some liberties with history and geography, in order to get my layout to "work."  I've flipped my Southern/D&W junction, and made the D&W/N&W interchange a mirror image and with the two railroads transposed.

If it works for you, it works.  I'm curious to see your plan.

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian


existing plan/module



These have been up before.  Now for my thoughts:

This revision 5 plan was drawn originally using the turnouts and track that I have, and all the structures and unbuilt structure kits I also have.  The yard module I put together to help me plan. The supports are just to prop it up for measurement. It took a good deal of revising and testing to get it the way I like it, and the way I wanted to operate my Southern Railways Mainline, with the Georgia RR sharing track and the C of Ga picking up at the fringes.  I had even added a small circular track in my mountain for my unbuilt HoN3 Shay to deliver logs to the Southern on the mainlaine.

The mountain (short side) will be my bartop side (I brew beer, and this is part of my "pub" in the basement - I have yet to build all of it).  I am trying to utilize the space below the steps as hidden trackage, with an access door on the back (hallway) side to get to derailments /storage shelves in the hidden trackage.

The long side (what I call the town of Escalera, which began as Atlanta) has a small yard, originally just the freight yard, but now it will be extended: I had decided I can stretch it 3'-0" to the wall seen in the photo, and share the yard with my Atlantic Steel Coke retort.  That way my gondolas and coal cars have a destination, and my scratch-built coaling tower will look good in that context.   After reaching the wall, the shelf will turn 90 degrees to the right (down) and run about 6 or 7 feet before turning right again, 90 degrees (to the drawings's left), and running another 6 feet or so before dead ending.



The dingy side of the Southern...  That's a shortline M of W train in the foreground... unlettered for any of my lines entirely on purpose!


I kept operation as simple as I could, to allow myself fast building and quick results: There is a one way loop with no turntables, reversing loops or wyes.  I intended to run clockwise, backing into the yard to make up trains.  The  double loop would allow me to run two trains without much switch throwing, but also to use the sidetrack as a pocket for switching, passing, etc.  I also did not build any grades into the design very intentionally, for good, simple operation.  Thus there are no crossovers, higher shelf level, etc.  The bed drops below track level for the river, raises above track level for the mountain (where the logging Shay was to run about 2" higher).

To add the TF RR I considered converting Escalera / Atlanta to Cornelia.  The problem with that is that it would eliminate the small yard, which I need, and where the big coke retort will be located: very industrial, very non-North Georgia..  On the other hand, the clockwise running of the Southern trains on the mainline loop make Escalera an ideal place to begin the DCC, dead-end TF RR.


The Southern Mainline at Cornelia.  The TF RR wye ran along the steel fence to beyond Main St. in the background. and back to the right, behind the parked cars.


I could (and that is my intent at this time) begin the TFRR by placing Cornelia just after the first right-hand turn in the new extension, and run the TF RR from there to the Tallulah Lake bridge, looping it or wyeing it at that point. That gives me the Tallulah Falls trestle on the edge of the Gorge to model incredible terrain all the way to the floor, a decent size lake with a dam and a very high plate girder bridge on the last leg.

The drawback to that is that all this dramatic mountain scenery would be a LOT better as the backdrop to the bar! It also means that I will have a huge dead area behind the bar, since the mountains will be elsewhere... But it just does not make any sense to run the larger Southern equipment,  with long coal trains, on a dead end spur, while running the dead end shortline on the loop (The book Memories of a Mountain Shortline mentions the TF RR trains ran in reverse for long distances frequently).

So there is my conundrum.  I have considered a reversing loop inside the concealed trackage space, a flyover to the right from that space (but the exchange in Cornelia is on the same level), adding a loop to run the Southern in the new area (not enough space)... Ideas would be welcome.


This is the Cornelia junction, the TF RR is the wye with shops in the center, going up, above the double track mainline of the Southern.  From Google Earth.  The Cornelia depot is the red roofed building.  A significant modeling item is the hotel that used to be across the Southern tracks, with steps up the embankment across from the plaza in front of the depot.  The TF RR goes to the top, the Southern to the right... the opposite of what I can do.

A solution!

Found a simple, almost working solution.  I will sketch it and post later, but it consists of adding a little width on the front to run the TF RR parallel to the edge, past the depot and all the way to almost the pier.  Along this spur, place a switch angling back towards the depot parking, on the opposite side of the building from the mainline, just like in Cornelia, and using an insulated crossing to go across the Southern's lead yard track.  Then just ignore the coke retort and yard, and start the TF RR scenery past the turn at the wall.  The town of Tallulah Falls had a small turntable at one time, so I can model that to turn the engines there.  

The TF RR will bring in the lumber for the Southern to haul, so the big scenery space at the bar can be used for some other operation:  Ideas on that are welcome.  It would be great to be able to sneak a wye in at Cornelia too, maybe using the Southern track...

Latest Plan

I like the way this plan is headed.  The double use of the small turntable by both railroads solves a problem efficiently, and allows me to transfer motive power discretely.  I know I could add a switch at the TF RR siding in Cornelia, but this is more elegant.

It would be perfect if I could complete the bridge over Tallulah Lake and have a way to turn on the other side, but I need to stop the layout at approximately that point...

The hidden trackage is under the stairs, with a door providing access to the space from the hallway along the upper edge of the drawing.  There will be shelving in the space for rolling stock storage and supplies.

My mountain scenery was to go behind the bar (leftmost edge of plan).  Now I have to come up with ideas for this large scenic space (I reduced it for this version, but it still is a big empty space).  Suggestions welcome.  My thought is that it has to be rural scenery: I don't want my urban centers to merge in one continuous strip, and Georgia is mostly rural anyway. I also do not want rugged mountains, because of wanting contrast to the TF RR gorge scenery.  Rolling hills would seem best, but a tunnel portal in rolling hills does not work well... maybe I can precede it with a deep cut and woods that will disguise it...

( I do have a good string of reefers, so maybe a good ice house / ice platform and reefer siding will work here, with some farmland / crops next to it...)

The Atlanta / Cornelia exit from the hidden trackage will be concealed with a viaduct applied to the backgtound, and buildings in front obscuring the view.




Goods hauled:


Southern / C of Ga / Ga RR: 

. scrap steel (from wharf, hidden track) to coke retort (Atlantic Steel)

. steel products (from Atlantic Steel) to hidden tracks

. coal (from hidden track) to coke retort

. coke (from coke retort) to wharf

. produce (from TF RR, from ice house siding) to hidden tracks

. general merchandise (from yard) to yard

. lumber (from TF RR) to lumber yard

. Passenger service from Atlanta to Cornelia on the Southern



 . lumber/logs/pulpwood (from sawmill on mountain) to the Southern yard

 . produce (from Cornelia Depot - needs a siding) to Southern yard

 . general freight  (from Cornelia depot) to Southern yard

 . Passenger service from Cornelia to Tallulah Falls, and back 





Tallulah Lake and the piers of the plate girder bridge




Tallulah Gorge  


Both photos were taken by me, on a 4x5 plate negative camera.



LKandO's picture

2nd Pic

The cliff side pic makes me weak in the knees just looking at it. Double checked to make sure the arm of my chair is still there to grab onto. Mesmerizing image.


All the details: www.LKOrailroad.com        Just the highlights: MRH blog

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

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