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A spirit that is not afraid

Heritage association remembers "The Crescent" rail line

“The Crescent” passenger rail line had a long history in Auburn. It operated from 1925 to 1970 and connected the cities of New Orleans and Washington D.C.

Auburn students at the time dubbed the railway the “War Eagle Special," said Constance Rosenblatt, a member of the Auburn Heritage Association. During the time the train ran, it was the only one that serviced Auburn, and was one of the few ways students got to the school. Many had never even seen Auburn University until they got off the train.

The train is a local movie star, as well, having appeared in the 1991 box office hit Fried Green Tomatoes.

It was also used as a form of retaliation against Georgia Tech when then-Auburn students greased the tracks of the train and painted them orange so that the train couldn’t stop until it was miles past Auburn. The Georgia Tech players had to walk all the way back.

Auburn won 45-0.

“It’s part of Auburn’s heritage as the Loveliest Village on The Plains,” Rosenblatt said.

Rosenblatt has lived in Auburn since 1976 when her husband, also a member of the Auburn Heritage Association, took a job at the University. Rosenblatt has held a teaching position at Auburn University as well for the last seven years.

The Heritage Association installed a historic market near the Auburn train depot, now the site of a restaurant called The Depot, on Mitchum Street. The marker was installed Aug. 21, 2016 in front of a crowd of about 60 people.

Those who had a history with the train — the railroad workers or their descendants and people who had once been passengers — were encouraged to attend the dedication.

The process of getting the plaque was both lengthy and costly, said President of the Auburn Heritage Association Mary Norman. 

“The marker cost $2,000, and the whole process took about nine months," Norman said.

The process included going through various organizations, including the Auburn City Council and the owners of The Depot. The marker honoring the Crescent Line was the 20th historic marker the Auburn Heritage Association has placed in the area.

Auburn is the only stop along the entire former rail line from Washington D.C. to New Orleans to have a historical dedication to the train. Once Amtrak took over the line in January 1970, the train no longer stopped in Auburn.

But the train remains a part of the city's history, Rosenblatt said.

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