Waycross Train Watching
Waycross Train Watching
Get addicted to this fascinating pastime.
Back in the mid-1800s, Waycross was a hub for stagecoach traffic, and then a home for the Plant System Railroad when it laid its tracks. As the railroad grew, so did the town surrounding it.
Streets were laid in the pattern of the Maltese Cross which was part of the Plant System Railroad’s logo, and a new city was born. It is said that someone traveling with the Railroad gave Waycross its name, because this was “where the ways crossed;” others will claim that Waycross was so named because it was “the way of the cross,” due to numerous churches that were built here in those days.
The railroad still plays an important role in the economy of this city, as one of the top employers for Ware County. Waycross is also home of the largest CSX computerized rail yard on the East Coast, which means that Waycross is still the hub for all rail traffic coming through the Southeast.
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The Historic Passenger Rail Depot was built in the early 1900s to replace the original depot that was destroyed by fire after a train derailment.
This building, restored in 1998, now houses the Waycross Tourism Bureau and Visitor Center, the Waycross-Ware County Chamber of Commerce, and other local offices.
Railfans enjoy all aspects of railroading including its history, rail cars, rail yards and especially locomotives. Railfans often take pictures of locomotives and passing trains and compile exhaustive lists (by identification number) of the locomotives they have seen. The Historic Passenger Rail Depot is an ideal place in Waycross to see trains lumbering through town, but railfans will also want to get a glimpse of Rice Yard, named for former Atlantic Coast Line Chairman Thomas Rice in 1978, which is the largest of nine classification yards on the CSX Transportation Railroad network.
The original 36-acre parcel was purchased in 1887 and now covers about 850 acres of Ware County (4.5 miles long by 2,000 yards wide!). In the early 1900s, the first buildings were built for the rail yard and are still in service today as the main office, locomotive shop, reclamation shop, and paint shop. Rice Yard can receive, classify, repair, refuel, inspect and service around 50 to 70 trains a day. The repair shops here are some of CSX’s largest railroad repair facilities in the country, which also include painting and cosmetic repair of the cars and locomotives. Between 1,700 and 2,900 cars roll through this yard daily to be inspected and classified before they are sent out to the next destination.
Waycross has become one of the busiest rail crossroads of southeast Georgia and the CSX Rice Yard still remains one of the largest employers for Waycross and the surrounding counties, with more than 1,200 employees and a payroll of more than $48 million.
The Regional Visitor Information Center located in Downtown Waycross, Georgia can help you find your adventure! Stop by and see us, pick up a map, brochures, flyers, books, information and so much more. Whether you are staying overnight or just traveling through, Waycross will be a place to remember.
The Okefenokee Heritage Center is a regional art and history museum located amongst twenty acres of beautiful pine woodlands. Over the past thirty years it has served the surrounding Okefenokee area by promoting an appreciation of the arts and an increased understanding of this region’s history. with its exhibits, programs and activities.
Southern Forest World is a museum dedicated to the history of forestry. There are many interesting artifacts. Southern Forest World has “Stuckie” the petrified dog (He’s also been on display at Ripley’s Believe It of Not).
If you are interested in Forestry this is the place for you! If you’d like to see a petrified dog then this is a MUST!
Laura S. Walker State Park is located just a few miles from the Okefenokee Swamp Park. Fishing and watersports are popular during the summer in the park’s 120-acre lake, while camping is popular year-round. Laura Walker also provides a beautiful layout of picnic areas and group shelters that are great for family outings.
Obediah’s Okefenok is the 1800s pioneer homestead of Obediah Barber. Since 1989, this homestead has been restored and turned into a park, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can venture down the 1100-ft. boardwalk, walk the nature trails, or just stroll through the many buildings and museums.
As you explore our downtown, note the many examples of period architecture that give this area its character. Even though some buildings are getting a face lift, others remain towering testaments to Waycross’ close proximity to Florida and its Spanish Influence. This Spanish Mission style architecture is reflected in stucco finishes, stylized gables, and clay tile roofs.
The crown jewel of the Ware County Recreation Department, the 123-acre facility features three complexes within walking distance of each other, and surrounded by ample parking. Building on the Trembling Earth Sports Complex
began in the early 2000s and has been completed in stages as funds became available. Your team is sure to appreciate the 12 tournament quality fields for play: the youth baseball complex with its six fields; the adult softball
complex, with four fields; one full-sized football field; and one multi-purpose soccer field.
A dream in the hearts of many post-World War II Ware County citizens, Memorial Stadium became a reality in 1948, dedicated to the many Ware County women and men who gave their lives in defense of their county in two world wars. Until 2002, Memorial Stadium was the hub of Waycross’ community life, drawing its citizens to regular minor-league baseball games, where major-leaguers such as Hank Aaron and Stan Musial would disembark from their train trips to make cameo appearances on the field.