Folkston Funnel Train Viewing Platform and Folkston Train Museum

Yesterday morning, I drove from Brunswick down to Folkston to do some train watching at the Folkston Funnel viewing platform and visit the Folkston Train Museum.   It was my first visit to both so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was a very pleasant experience and a great way to spend an early fall morning.  I took I-95 south from Brunswick to the GA Highway 25 Spur in Woodbine to GA Highway 110 to GA Highway 40.  I haven’t seen a lot of good directions on how to find the platform, so here’s the best way to find it.  From US1 in Folkston, take Main St. west to Railroad St.  Turn south just before the railroad tracks onto Railroad St (which is a dirt road) and you’ll see the platform.

View of the Folkston Funnel train viewing platform as you travel south on Railroad St from Main St.

The viewing platform is a wonderful facility.  It’s covered and equipped with ceiling fans, so it you don’t get sunburned and there’s air circulation in summer.  It is lit so you can watch at night and there’s even floodlights that light the tracks to allow for better viewing at night.  The view is clear to the south and the north so you can easily see the trains coming and get good photos as they approach.  I enjoyed the north approach to the platform because you can see the trains coming around a bend and under an overpass.  The platform has thoughtfully been equipped with a scanner which scans the primary frequencies used by CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak in the area.  The scanner if fed by a vertical antenna mounted on the roof of the platform so it receives much better than a handheld scanner does (it could hear much more than my BCD396XT with SRH77CA could).   The platform is even equipped with a WiFi hotspot; look for the network named “Train Platform.”  I never used the laptop while I was there but my smartphone worked perfectly fine on it.

The viewing platform as seen looking north; the vertical antenna for the scanner is mounted on the roof on the south end of the platform (KF4LMT Mobile is parked at the north end of the platform).

The first train that I saw come by was something that I’ve never seen around Savannah before.  It was a northbound CSX train consisting of two locomotives and four CSX passenger cars.

The next train was a northbound CSX train with a mix of tank cars, freight cars, and containers.

Next to pass by was Amtrak’s Silver Meteor going southbound.  Prior to it passing by, it sounded like they may have done a crew change in the area of Hoboken based on some of the traffic heard on the platform’s scanner.

The last train to pass by before I made my way over to the museum was another southbound CSX train that consisted of double stack containers and car carriers.

Across Main St. and the railroad tracks from the viewing platform is the Folkston Railroad Transportation Museum.

View of the Folkston Train Museum from the Folkston Funnel viewing platform.
The Folkston Railroad Transportation Museum. Hidden behind the oak tree is a VHF vertical antenna.

The Train Museum is a wonderful small museum that covers railroad history in the Folkston area.  It features a lot of artifacts ranging from railroad documents and log books to tools and signals to communications equipment.  As a radio hobbyist, I was particularly interested in seeing the communications equipment.  They have a dispatcher’s office display consisting of phone equipment and a number of telegraphy keys and sounders.  They also have a dedicated railroad radio display with functioning equipment that provides railroad communications audio for the museum.  Among the railroad radios on display are Motorola, Wabco, Trackstar, and Aerotron examples.  If you go to Folkston to watch the trains or are just passing through, I highly recommend you stop by and visit!

Telegraph Sounder, note that tobacco tin wedged between the sounder and resonator by the operator to make his setup sound disntictive.
Telegraph Key
Dispatcher’s Office display.
Dispatcher’s Office display.
Railroad Radio display. These two radios are functioning and monitor Railroad Channels 32 and 14 ) to provide communications audio for the museum. A vertical antenna is mounted outside the museum to feed the display radios.

More of the Railroad Radio display.

Speaking of railroad communications, here is a list of the frequencies I heard activity on between 0800 and 1000 Monday morning while watching the trains:

  • 160.590 – Ch. 32, CSX Main Line/Road
  • 160.320 – Ch. 14, CSX Dispatcher
  • 160.950 – Ch. 56, Norfolk Southern
  • 161.520 – Ch. 94, CSX Brunswick and Thomasville Subs
  • 161.070 – Ch. 64, B Tower hump
  • 160.275 – Ch. 11
  • 160.920 – Ch. 54
  • 161.460 – Ch. 90

If you bring your own handheld scanner to listen to while train watching, I suggest locking out Channels 32 and 14 because the platforms scanner scans those and will receive them much better than your handheld will.  You might also want to use an earphone for the scanner because the audio on the platform’s scanner is very loud through PA speakers so it can be heard over train noise when the trains pass by.

Even though I’m only a newbie to railroad communications and trains, I truly enjoyed my morning at the Folkston Funnel; I think I’ll be making regular trips down (maybe every couple of weeks or so) to listen and watch/take photos.  Hopefully with more monitoring experience and watching I’ll have a better idea of what I’m hearing and seeing!

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