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Watching Freight Trains

Train Watching can be a fascinating afternoon

Folkston is located on the CSX Transportation double-track main line 40 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida.

To many rail fans, it is known as "the CSXT funnel out of Florida," or "The Folkston Funnel." The double track from Jacksonville to Folkston, and north to Savannah, Georgia, and beyond is the Nahunta subdivision. Within viewing distance, just north of town, the rails split. The Jesup subdivision cuts off and goes west to Waycross, Georgia (Burt Reynold's home town!) and on to Atlanta. The scanner frequency is 160.590 MHz for road traffic.

During a 24-hour period, train watchers may see and average of 60 trains, at times more, depending on the movement of freight into Florida. A wide variety of trains can be seen during the 24-hour period. Eight Amtrak trains pass daily, including the AutoTrain, which runs from the nation's capital to Florida and back. Numerous intermodal and mixed freight trains going north and south keep the Nahunta and Jesup subdivisions busy. Numerous unit trains pass through nearly every day, carrying coal, phosphate, grain, molten sulfur, auto rackets - and "The famous Tropicana Juice Train."

A covered train viewing platform became reality in 2001 to the delight of train fans from near and far who come to visit the famous Folkston Funnel. As part of this city-sponsored service, a scanner is active where visitors can listen to train engineers as trains pass through the area. Free WiFi service for laptop computers was added during the summer of 2006. In addition, the city provides benches, chairs, picnic tables, BBQ pits and rest rooms. Local legend and train expert Mr. Cookie Williams is often found visiting with tourists and local train fans.

In October, the Orlando Society of Model Railroaders sets up its elaborate train layout inside the restored historic depot during Folkston's annual Okefenokee Festival. The city of Folkston welcomes rail fans to the area, but asks that they practice good railroad safety while here! The City of Folkston hosts an annual train festival the second weekend in April.

The Inn at Folkston is a perfect spot for train fans to spend the night. The inn is a short 5-minute walk from the depot, and many of the Inn's guests have been known to spend half the night there instead of in their cozy feather beds!