When I took these pictures in Appalachia VA, the cabooses were just 2,200 feet from each other, but, boy, are they different. Cast your baby blues on these:
The top one, nattily repainted, is on display in a small park. It was built, according to the ID plate, in 1948. It’s at 36.8998N, 82.78841W
The lower one, rough and ready, was still in the yard. It’s a 1976 unit.
There’s a definitive book on N&W cabooses for sale from the NW Historical Society, but it’s $50.
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.
In the late 1880s, Gen. John D. Imboden, late of the Army of the South, working for the Tinsalia Company, helped convince a bunch of rich Northerners of the great potential for iron and coal in Southwest, by God, Virginia. However, it wasn’t until around 1903 that the Imboden Coal Company lured the Virginia Coal and Iron Company into running a line up Pigeon Creek (which goes under these trestles) to extract coal from ICC’s mines. This is one of three former double line trestles over the Pigeon that we saw on a trip up this line. The line on the left is active, sort of; the trestle on the right has been converted to auto and foot traffic. The curve to the right just beyond the converted trestle heads up to a former coal mine.
Note: the ties on the right trestle are rotting.
Imboden is between Appalachia and Exeter.
For the last few months, I’ve been recording the train depots (if available) and the post offices of many of the small towns we drift through on any given Sunday. Both the depots and the smaller post offices are slowly going away; the former from neglect, the latter through an excess of penury on the part of the USPS. Here are two standard issue, well-built train depots that have fallen into ungraceful disuse.
First, here’s the Appalachia depot, on the L&N.
And this is Limestone’s depot on the N&S. It was, at one time, a stylish building. No longer.
Callahan is a common name in this area. There’s a Callahan Avenue in Appalachia and a Callahan Creek that’s near here. I assume that is the origin of the name of this tunnel.
Anyway, this is the other tunnel on that old (1890) Fremont branch of the L&N line that ran from Appalachia to Big Stone Gap. It’s been unused since 1986 or so.
This is Callahan’s Nose tunnel from the Appalachia side:
The short, 135′ tunnel is centered at 36.884670, -82.786329.
This is the south face. The overpassing track is active N&S.
I took these when I was more interested in the pleasant hike from Appalachia to Big Stone Gap than I was the tunnels, but I took one picture because I was surprised at the brick interior of this tunnel (below). I suspected that it showed that the tunnel was an older one and, surprise, I was right. Bricking was an earlier technique of shoring up a tunnel. After the turn of the century, they generally used concrete to ensure the integrity of a tunnel. Enlarge the picture and you can clearly see the brick.
In 1890, the Louisville & Nashville railway (L&N) pushed two tunnels through outcroppings of Stone Mountain between Appalachia and Big Stone Gap while creating its Cumberland Valley Division. This one, closest to Appalachia at 36.895712, -82.787822, is Bee Rock.
This is the view from the Appalachia side. The tracks are still in place, but they haven’t seen a train since around 1986. Bee Rock, at 47′ 7″ in length, enjoyed a brief fame as the “Shortest Railroad Tunnel in Use in the United States”, according to Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Soon (oops!), someone noticed that there was a tunnel a foot or so shorter over near Gallatin TN and that was that.
This is looking through the tunnel toward Callahan’s Nose tunnel (about 4,000′ ahead), which we’ll come to later (interesting tunnel, that).
The plans are, I believe, to turn this old railbed from Appalachia to Big Stone Gap into a trail for walking and biking. I hope so. I’ve walked it a couple of times. It’s very enjoyable, but, then, I’m easy. I’ve walked a lot worse rail lines, for sure.