Chancery Court Judge Talmadge Littlejohn and his grandson Gray took a close look at a railroad locomotive in downtown New Albany on a pleasant day in late January, 2015.
Railroads have played an important part in the history and development of New Albany. The tracks of the BNSF Railroad and the Ripley and New Albany Railroad intersect in downtown New Albany. BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Railroad is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway corporation. The second largest railroad freight carrier in America, BNSF operates on over 32,000 miles of track, most of it in the southern and western United States.
The Ripley and New Albany Railroad was originally known as the Ripley Railroad and was founded by Colonel William Clark Falkner in 1871. The company was expanded and became known as the Ship Island, Ripley and Kentucky Railroad when it was sold by Falkner’s heirs to the Gulf and Chicago Railroad. Colonel Falkner was the great-grandfather of Nobel Prize-winning author William Cuthbert Faulkner. The author was born in New Albany in 1897 in a house about 150 yards east of where this photograph was made.
The old Ship Island, Ripley right-of-way running south of New Albany to Houston, Mississippi is now the popular Tanglefoot Trail, a 43-mile hiking and bicycling trail.
Engine number 800 being inspected by the chancellor and his grandson is a four-axle GP8 diesel-electric locomotive originally built by the General Motors Electro-Motive division. Number 800 is one of 111 locomotives re-built in the Illinois Central Railroad’s Paducah, Kentucky shops in the late 1970s.