Railway Post Office

railpo

Even mended with tape (not my doing), this is a fine picture, taken by the American Car and Foundry Company in 1923.  Brand new car for Southern Railway.

po crew

I would guess that this is the crew that guarded and processed the mail on the car, getting ready to load up.  That’s a lot of security!

Railway post offices were mostly gone by 1962 and completely gone by 1977.

Southern Medallion

plaque

I found this sign at a flea market mall.  It’s 8.75″ in diameter, baked enamel finish and 10.75 ounces in weight. It has been dinged a bit and I’m not under any illusion that it’s an antique. I believe the company that produced these signs is no longer making them.  “Too expensive”, I read.

I’m not having any luck finding a similar sign yet.  I may have to (alert! 1960s TV series reference) “Wire Paladin, San Francisco”.

N&S Locomotives, Kingsport TN

n&s2

For as long as I can remember, there have been one or two N&W locomotives and a caboose on a short siding beside Lincoln Street, near the intersection with John B. Dennis in Kingsport.  These two are 2559 (EMD GP30) and 7026 (EMD GP50), with the caboose NS 555006.  One engine was idling at the time I took this picture.  Since this is basically CSX territory, I’ve wondered why these units are here.  Still wondering.

Later:  Not anymore!  Many thanks to Ralph Clark, a former engineer, who clued me in to these locomotives.  He recalled that, at some point in the past, Eastman wanted to uncouple from just having one railway servicing their vast facility, so they set up an arrangement with N&S to make a nightly run to Frisco to pick a shipment of coal and bring it back.  Pictured above, for all intents and purposes, is N&S’s foot on the ground in CSX territory.

Lynch KY

loco

This repainted locomotive/caboose set is parked in front of Mine #20 in Lynch KY.  It was a U.S. Steel unit in use when Lynch was a happenin’ place in the 1940s & 50s: coal, railroad, maybe 10,000 souls in town.

If you’re into taking pix of abandoned industrial towns, this place is target rich.  Take care, though, many of the buildings are crumbling.

Building Bridges from our Past to our Future

Calvin Sneed’s first book, with some of the 11,800+ bridge pictures he’s posted to bridgehunter.com, is now available (College Press ISBN: 978-1-5323-4369-8).

Tim Cable and I interviewed Calvin on Thinking Out Loud morning show on AM910 WJCW radio this morning.  Truss bridges, mostly, are a passion for Calvin.  And he knows his stuff.

The book isn’t on amazon.com yet; however, Calvin’s having a book signing at the I Love Books bookstore in the Ft. Henry Mall in Kingsport this Sunday, December 10, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

Lancefield East trestle


I find some of these utilitarian railroad trestles across rivers quite satisfying.
Lancefield East angles across a shoal in the French Broad River.  Keep going on this and you’ll leave Cocke County TN and hit Madison County NC in just a few miles. The trestle is 960′ long, with a handy walkway provided.  I’ve been on a walkway similar to this when a train came by.  I was safe enough, but that much power and sheer tonnage was certainly impressive.  And loud.

Hatfield Crossing

hatfield

The junction box identifies this crossing as Hatfield.  The town of Hatfield, though, is a little over 5 miles to the northwest.  I was looking slightly north northwest when I took this picture.  I’m just across Tug Fork from Williamson KY yard.  The truss bridge, canted to bear the weight shift on a curve, was made by Virginia Bridge and Iron, in Roanoke, in 1913.  The road is Kentucky 292.  If you look just above the bridge, you can see part of a long coal conveyor belt.

Williamson WV Rail Yard

While Norfolk Western laid down a line through Williamson in 1892 or so, they didn’t build the big consolidation and repair yard until 1901.  It has a roundhouse, but I wasn’t able to get a decent picture of it.  It shows up quite well on Google Earth, though.

You can also see from the satellite image the fairly wide suspension pedestrian walkway that spans the yard.  It is gated, but I was able to climb the rickety stairs that access the northern bridge support tower.   This is looking southeast:
yardlookingsoutheast

This is looking across the yard showing the pedestrian bridge (there’s a date on the building in the center, 1926):
yardlookingsouth

And this is looking northwest or so:
yardnorthwest

This is the best view I could get of the roundhouse, taken from a 1913 truss bridge over the Tug Fork on the southern side of the yard:
roundhouse

Jordan Spreader

jordanspreader

I’d forgotten I had this picture.  This much-used Jordan Spreader, SBD 774760, was sitting in the eastern part of Kingsport yard back in 2012.  I thought it might have been used to clear tunnels of ice.  That was fanciful.  When I looked it up, I found that the unit is used to dig and clear ditches, regulate ballast and even to plow snow.  Sturdy and reliable, and, of course, it’s been replaced by more modern things…so it goes.

Boxcar on a Siding

riverfront

It was raining slightly and I saw these boxcars sitting on a siding off Tilthammer Drive, in the industrial park behind Evergreen Garden Center in Kingsport.  A few years ago, I came this way and the rails were getting a little rusty.  I thought that this siding was unused, but, as you can see by the rails now, it is getting steady use by one of the companies down there.  Nice to see.  Go, railroads!

The Milwaukee Road

This is a postcard travel folder, printed by Kropp & Co. in Milwaukee…late 40s.  The locomotive is The Olympian.  There are 18 views, printed on standard-weight paper, in this foldout piece. Most are views (scenics, cities, bridges), but two are of other locomotives, which I have scanned in.  I found this folder in Erwin TN.  It sells on ebay for around $5.

Double Tipple

 

I don’t have the foggiest where this is and neither does my buddy, who knows a thing or two about tipples.  Since this was in the early 60s, over 50 years ago…it’s probably long gone by now.

There are a few thin clues to where it may have been:  The Unknown Collector put his acquisition date as April 18, 1963 (that was a Thursday, I looked it up).  The photographer was C. H. Ruth, who took chromes like this around the area, generally for Haynes Publishing, in the 60s.  This one, though was published by  “Mountaineer Post Card Service, Chilhowie, Va.”.  Printed by Dexter in West Nyack, N.Y.

The hopper just visible under the front tipple is marked L&N.

Lines of Hoppers

Lines and lines of empty hoppers parked in Southwest Virginia.  This is looking more or less southward into Dante Yard.  We were moving from Scott County into Dickenson County and back and saw a lot of these idle units.  Anecdotal reports indicate that they’ve been there for a considerable time (several weeks or so).  We were seeing both CSX and N&S (and some old Southern and Norfolk & Western units, too).

Yeah, It’s Tweetsie

You know I’d post Tweetsie some time or other.  So, here goes:
 

Built in 1957 up near Greer Branch north of Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad is a popular destination (more on that later).  This shows old (1917/Baldwin/9-6-0) #12, formerly of the fabled ET&WNC railroad.  The card is from the early 60s.

Here’s what it enthusiastically states on the back:
“TWEETSIE’S LOCOMOTIVE #12, CROSSING DEAD HORSE TRESTLE: Tweetsie Railroad; Eastern America’s most exciting travel destination.  Full size steam locomotives daily carry fun loving tourists thru three miles of scenic mountains, where trains are attacked by renegade Indians and robbed by outlaws.  Authentic western town features live entertainment at Tweetsie Palace, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Blowing Rock, North Carolina.”

For the deltiologists:
Color-King Natural Color Cards, W. M. Cline Co., Asheville, N.C.  Inventory number 14958A
Photogaphed in Natural Color by Jack W. Bowers (who was, apparently, a quite popular photographer in Asheville)

Found several of these cards in an unlikely little antique/car repair shop near Asheville.

Bulls Gap Railroad Museum

On the way to Morristown today, we decided to drop by the Bulls Gap Railroad Museum.  The last time we’d visited, it was in a small building down by the rail yard.  Now, it’s in a much larger and brighter  building across the tracks at 153 South Main.
Bill Haskins was holding down the fort today:

On the screen behind him is a graphic representation of all the activity in the rail yard.
Here’s a long shot of the museum – the large model train layout is on the right.

No admission charge.  Open seven days a week.  Lots to look at and souvenirs for sale.
It’s located at 36 15 11.31N, 83 05 09.50W.  Telephone is 423.393.4429.
Here’s the link to their Facebook page

 

The Twins, Again

I always liked The Twins (I like Kent Junction, too.  I’m irrational at times).  This is looking at the North Twin, south portal, from the South Twin, north portal.  South Twin is 236′ and North Twin is 308′.  Faceup date on both is 1912.   They’re about 5.6 miles northeast of Clinchport on Highway 65.
Up in North Carolina, on the loops, I was able to get three tunnels in one shot.  To get any more than that would take tunnels like Bee Rock lined right up.

Virginian 507

507front 507back

I found this postcard in an antique shop a little north of Tazewell/New Tazewell TN on 25.  The card’s not all that rare and it’s got some water damage, but it’s a good picture and it’s from a publisher I’d never heard of.  And that would be Audio-Visual Designs of Earlton, NY.  Earlton is a suburb of Coxsackie…really, Coxsackie.  Although the picture was taken in 1957, I think it was printed in the 80s.  That’s when this company appears to have been active.

More on this locomotive:  click here

I didn’t pay $4.50 for it, either.