Railway Post Office

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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:
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This is looking across the yard showing the pedestrian bridge (there’s a date on the building in the center, 1926):
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And this is looking northwest or so:
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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:
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Jordan Spreader

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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

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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).

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.

Camelback 4-6-0?

442 442back

This is a RPPC, a Real Photo Post Card, a one-off.  The configuration around the “Place Stamp Here” on the back with all four corner triangles pointed up puts its manufacture between 1904 and 1918.  I’m no expert on locomotives, but it looks like a Camelback 4-2-2 (note the bull’s horns above the lamp).  Or, if I’m looking at it wrong, it could be a 4-6-0 (Clinchfield had four 4-6-0s early on, but no 4-2-2s)  If this dates to the mid- to late-teens, this gang could be laying track for the Clinchfield Railroad, which may have occasioned the picture.  Or they could be cleaning up a wreck.

The only reason I think it’s Clinchfield is because I bought it locally.  Weak reasoning, I suppose.

King Bridge

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This Clinchfield Railroad trestle is only King Bridge Company (Cleveland OH) unit I’ve found.  Made in 1907.  That’s the Clinch River it’s crossing (no, it’s not..see below.  It could be Cove Creek, though).  This deck girder is just off Hwy. 65 south of Ft. Blackmore in Scott County VA.

Appalachia Train Station

appalachiatsfrnt appalachiatsback

The L&N came into what was then known as Intermont in 1891.  It formally became Appalachia in 1906.  This Craftsman style train station was built around 1910.  Notably, it has a slate roof.
The card was printed by The Tecraft Company in Tenafly NJ.  That company registered The Tecraft Company as a trade name in 1946, when it was over 70 years old.

Judging by the quality of the photo and comparing it to other Tecraft cards on line, I would think this card dates to the early 20th century.  It’s in fair to good condition with just  two minor creases.

Note: back in 2012, I’d posted a picture of how the station looks now.  As the comment below notes, it’s a wreck.

Seaboard Coast Line Caboose

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I didn’t track this too carefully, but it was noted as being in Marion NC around 1984.  Makes sense, it’s now on some guy’s property about 8 miles south of Spruce Pine, beside an active CSX line at Sevier Crossroads.  Looks to be in pretty good shape.  It’s sited at 35 48 10.89N, 82 00 59.22W on Old Linville Road.  Family Lines System only existed from 1972 to 1982 and this predates that, since it carries a Seaboard Coast Line ID number.  It is, I think, an ACL (Atlantic Coast Lines) M-5.  I could be wrong.  When I was a kid, attracting chiggers on a mountain side in the foggy dawn light while by brother listened for squirrels, I looked over and saw what I thought was a cat and called to it.  My brother: “Hush, Bobby, and, anyway, that’s skunk, not a cat.  Now be quiet!”

Surprise! Big Four, No Daylight

big4

Photo by Lee Stone.
I like the composition of this shot.  That’s Big Four #2 up ahead.  Just beyond it is Big Four’s Walmart (formerly a K-Mart).  This 174′ tunnel may still be scheduled for daylighting (removing the overburden and opening it up) in that corridor improvement project, but, as of November, 2106, it’s still a tunnel.  That’s Elkhorn Creek on the left.
Incidentally, when I was researching this tunnel, I learned that the community of Big Four was named after the four owners of the major mines in this area.  Keep the big people happy, and distracted.