I want to make a few comments:
1) My hiking buddy and I are pretty practiced at slogging along railroad lines chasing down tunnels (well, finding them….after all, tunnels aren’t in the habit of moving around a lot). We’re skirting legality, too. Railroad companies are nervous lately, for good reason, I suppose, since they’re a critical infrastructure and there are pockets of really crazy people lurking out there. Anyway, all CSX property is posted. We’re careful, we never touch or move anything, and we get the hell out of the way of trains.
2) Speaking of which (trains, in case you lost track…lost track, get it…), trains are crazy heavy, run pretty darn fast most of the time, and on either side can extend around 12″ from the end of the ties, or sleepers. Give them plenty of room. The wheels squeal and a wheel with a flat place is noisy. The ground moves when the locomotives come by. They also include engineers, who know that if they see something ahead on the tracks, there isn’t even a teeny chance they’ll be able to stop that train quickly. Don’t let a train surprise you. They blow their horns often, though, and you can hear a train coming a quarter of a mile away, unless you’re on the opposite side of a bend (nervous, nervous).
There are plenty of rails-to-trails you can hike or bike…The Creeper in Abingdon or Damascus, the stretch of old L&N line that goes from Appalachia to Big Stone Gap (rails still there), Guest River Gorge Trail (fun going down…a beast coming back up), and various remnants of the old ET& WNC line from Johnson City to Cranberry NC, where the iron mines are that furnished the metal that was forged into the big guns of the Confederacy, way back when. The ore is magnetic, too. Wonder if you stood near one of those cannon with a compass, it would point gun?
I would never suggest that you go running the tracks taking pix. Anyway, in this area, we’re just about finished doing just that. Get your own project <grin>.
Next tunnel coming up: Russell.