Ashley, Drew & Northern

1987 NRHS Excursion

logo_nrhs In October of 1987, the Ashley, Drew & Northern and Fordyce & Princeton Railways joined forces to host an all-day excursion special plying the length and return of both shortlines -- a round trip of more than 180 miles. Two of the roads' rare GP28s were matched for the run with a set of three coaches. The excursion train left Fordyce early in the morning, ran to Crossett on the F&P, then to Monticello on the AD&N. Turned on the wye at Monticello, the train returned to Fordyce by sundown via reverse route. The excursion was operated for the Southeast Louisiana Chapter and the Little Rock Chapter (Arkansas Railroad Club) of the National Railway Historical Society.

tag_listNRHS Excursion Consist

Excursion Roster

  • Ashley, Drew & Northern #1812
    GP28 road switcher, 1964
  • Fordyce & Princeton #1805
    GP28 road switcher, 1964
  • Ashley, Drew & Northern #?
    ex Rock Island steel coach
  • "Jefferson County" #318
    ex Delaware, Lackawanna & Western
    blt for "Phoebe Snow" service
    steel coach, 1949
  • "Susacapejo" #1601
    ex Wabash "Banner Blue", 1950
    Budd steel dome observation

I've always loved roller coasters, especially the old wooden kind. The more hills, the better. But few amusement park rides have compared to the railfan thrill of 35 mile per hour running on the pristine Ashley, Drew & Northern roadbed, two rare EMD models on the point.

When our NRHS chapter announced plans for the '87 FP-ADN all-day trip, I promptly begged my Jr. High band director "Chief" Sanders to let me out of a Saturday musical commitment to go with my dad to southeastern Arkansas. My childhood railfan buddy Jay K. joined us for the road-trip. After dad left work on Friday, we drove late into the evening all the way from New Orleans to Fordyce. Rising early, we made our way to the F&P depot down by the Cotton Belt crossing. It was not long before the crew brought the train from the small yard out to the station area, ready for boarding. What a terrific looking train! The crisp, all-business look of the Geeps; three all-silver coaches, including a classic round-end dome observation. I've always liked the great look of the Georgia-Pacific green scheme (see Tedder's notes on the ADN page), and the rare GP28 model has a ready-to-get-to-work look about it compared to more modest lines of, say, the GP18. What's more, we never made a stop in Crossett to the ADN and FP without noticing the roads' equipment always clean, tidy, and ready for the day's work. This day's work was hailing happy railfans.

Jay and I spent the better part of the excursion tucked into the front vestibule of the AD&N's own company coach, an ex-Rock Island car kept on the property for just such a special outing. The Rock car was first in line behind the road units, and Jay and I ticked off most of the day's miles watching the Geeps ride up and down the rolling AD&N and make good time on the smooth F&P -- slack running in and out, white flags flapping all the way. The vestibule was great, but where I wanted to be, of course, was a dozen feet forward in the cab of #1805! I remember the turns on the Crossett wye; watching from the observation's dome as we moved around the shops. I also remember leaning out the rear vestibule of one of the coaches, watching as the AD&N men made careful study of the underside of the coaches as we eased over the hogback Union Pacific crossing in Monticello.

It is quite possible that the '87 NRHS holds the record for the most shortline photo run-bys! It seemed as though we stopped every 30 miles to stage a new scene. I'm not complaining. It was great fun, every time. Train stops, everyone detrains, train backs up out of view. Everyone scrambles into the weeds and woods to find their preferred spot for capturing the action. And with a good blast of the Nathans from down at the bottom of the hill, the 28s would roll forward past us at the impressive company maximum of 35 mph. (Many a deep south shortline could never boast 35! Indeed, the Columbus & Greenville was glad to get to 15 mph.)

I can still smell the gray 567 smoke from every thrilling uphill run-by on the green and white AD&N. It was the best of days, the best of rides. Up and down, and then again.

Six Flags coasters, eat your heart out.


Passengers on the NRHS excursion gathered at Fordyce, Arkansas, and found the day's equipment waiting for a timely departure in front of the handsome Fordyce & Princeton depot -- still hosting semaphore signals. A small yard sat just northwest of the depot, and immediately to southeast the F&P crossed the Cotton Belt's Texas to St. Louis mainline. An interchange track connected the northwest corner of the crossing. "Extra" white flags were added to lead unit #1812, and the consist departed for the first leg of the four-part journey: the F&P mainline to Crossett.


The excursion arrived at Crossett, Arkansas, twice during the long day of running: first after the morning run from Fordyce; again after the afternoon run back from Monticello. Crossett is home to a vast number of industrial and mill operations served by rail, many of which were being switched as our train entered and departed town. Furthermore, at the time of the excursion, both Georgia Pacific shortlines shared servicing space at the roads' significant locomotive shop. The shop sits in the center of large wye, which the excursion consist maneuvered twice in order to reorient the train for each new leg of the day's travel. Following the first turn, the train departed northbound to run the length of the Ashley, Drew & Northern line to Monticello.

Along the Line

Photo run-by


The midpoint of the day's run was Monticello, Arkansas, were the Ashley, Drew & Northern maintained interchange with the Union Pacific. At the interchange, the train carefully navigated a wye and was turned for the southbound return to Crossett. Crews encountered challenges taking the excursion consist across the humped diamond, as some of the equipment hanging under the long wheelbase coaches threatened to run aground as they slowly passed over the crossing. Eventually successful at bringing the train over the crossing and around the interchange track, the train was parked on the Union Pacific line for its southward departure.

Photo run-by

Multiple photo run-bys were staged on the Crossett to Monticello leg, along the roller coaster profile of the Ashley, Drew & Northern.

Photo run-by

A late afternoon photo run-by was staged along Route 274, between Tinsman and Fordyce, Arkansas.




This page was updated on 2017-08-02