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Golf tourney benefits miniature railroad club's train attraction

Golf tourney benefits railroad club's train attraction

Grandchildren of North Georgia Live Steamers club member LaVay Sheldon, from left, Carter Sheldon, 11, and Emerson Sheldon, 6, help lay track at the Conyers and Hightower Trail Railroad, a miniature railroad that will be offering rides to the public at its location near the Georgia International Horse Park. The club will hold a golf fundraiser on Sept. 25 at Cherokee Run Golf Club to help pay for the railroad equipment. (Special Photo)

Grandchildren of North Georgia Live Steamers club member LaVay Sheldon, from left, Carter Sheldon, 11, and Emerson Sheldon, 6, help lay track at the Conyers and Hightower Trail Railroad, a miniature railroad that will be offering rides to the public at its location near the Georgia International Horse Park. The club will hold a golf fundraiser on Sept. 25 at Cherokee Run Golf Club to help pay for the railroad equipment. (Special Photo)

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Adults and children alike enjoyed rides on the North Georgia Live Steamers train at last year’s Big Haynes Creek Wildlife Festival. The train club will once again bring its portable track to the festival today for rides. (Special Photo)

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A man and boy examine the engine of a miniature train operated by the North Georgia Live Steamers. (Special Photo)

CONYERS — The North Georgia Live Steamers group is looking for one more boost to its coffers before calling the “All Aboard” for passengers to ride their live miniature steam locomotive through its course near the Georgia International Horse Park.

To that end, the group is holding the “Full Steam Ahead” Golf Tournament, a fundraiser, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, with registration at 8 a.m. and shot gun start at 9 a.m., at Cherokee Run Golf Club in Conyers.

Funds will support the Conyers & Hightower Trail Railroad, an attraction near the Steeple Chase Grounds, at 1632 Centennial Olympic Parkway, adjacent to the Hawthorne Suites hotel. The railroad features 6,000 feet of track and scale steam engines, diesel locomotives and railroad equipment that can be ridden by the public.

The entry fee for the third annual golf tournament is $300 for a four-person team or $75 per person. The fee includes a cart, bucket of balls, green fees and a buffet lunch.

“It’s been one of our better events as far as fundraising,” said LaVay Sheldon, a member of the North Georgia Live Steamers.

Proceeds from the tournament will go toward the cost of finalizing first-phase construction of the railroad which is scheduled for a grand opening to the public on Nov. 2, from 1 to 5 p.m.

“We have most of the equipment and can run trains, so now we are at the point where we just need some finishing touches,” Sheldon said.

Specifically, the group needs to install a three-track hydraulic lift that allows cars to be loaded onto the track. Sheldon said the trains are heavy, with a locomotive weighing in at 750 pounds.

“That’s what gives it the weight that adheres it to the track so we can pull passengers,” Sheldon said.

The train track is hand laid and runs through wooded and grassy areas. The railroad has more than 50 switches, the hydraulic loading rack and five steaming bays.

The North Georgia Live Steamers is a nonprofit, miniature outdoor railroad club dedicated to the promotion of railroad education and history. They’ve been working on the Conyers & Hightower Trail Railroad project for the last four years.

“We’re real excited. It’s taken us a long time to get to the point in being comfortable in saying, ‘Look, we’re here,’” said Sheldon, who expects the train to have a regular schedule of runs in the spring. A portable train operated by the club will be available to ride today at the Big Haynes Creek Wildlife Festival at the Georgia International Horse Park.

To register for the tournament or to learn more, visit www.northgeorgialivesteamers.org or call LaVay Sheldon at 404-861-4418 or email him at lavay@kellencompany.com.