The Loops: Quinn Knob

As the CSX heads down the Blue Ridge, it makes the first Loop, curling around to come back to about 100′ away from the tangent that leads into it (but 132′ lower).  Coming out of 2nd Washburn, about 1/4 mile away to the south, lies Quinn Knob tunnel, 545′ long.  It carries a 1912 date on this south lintel at 35.841637, -82.041630.  It’s on a slight bend, leading to 3rd Washburn, which we’ll get to shortly.  Then we’ll take a break and gaze at four tunnels down on Norris Lake.  Ever hear of the Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville Railroad?  It was involved in the breaching of Cumberland Gap for the mighty steel rails.  More later.


Diversion: Kent Junction

Kent Junction is centered at 36.921466, -82.728876, northeast of Appalachia.  I don’t know why I like it so much…it’s just sort of a tidy triangle of trackage (heh, alliteration) out in the country. It was originally laid down by the Interstate Railroad as part of its trackage to Cane Patch and to Dorchester.  You can get a good look at it on Google Earth.  That N&S loco isn’t going anywhere.  It was just sitting there, hissing occasionally.  This was in February, 2012.

The Loops: Upper Bridal tunnel

About a mile or so southwest of  Upper Pine Ridge tunnel, lies Upper Bridal tunnel.  It’s a curved tunnel, which mimics the curve of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the northwest of it.  The tunnel is fairly easy to get to, if you know what you’re doing.  This weathered southwest portal is at 35.855180, -82.035674.  The tunnel is 927′ long.  Around 1905 or so, nine workers were killed here when someone accidentally ignited 15 cases (100 pounds each) of dynamite (according to Ashton Chapman in the Charlotte Observer 8/23/53).  Seven workers were killed on the same day, in another area, when a cut they were working on collapsed.


The Loops: Blue Ridge tunnel

This is the east portal of Blue Ridge tunnel (35.883516, -82.018091), also noted on maps as Ridge tunnel.  It’s 1,865′ long and goes under the Blue Ridge Parkway. The far end up there is 187.28 miles from Elkhorn City KY. After Vance, this is the first tunnel heading down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge mountain.