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.

Nolichucky River Bridge (Unaka Springs)

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I think this card is from the early 20s.  I don’t know what company actually printed it (“published by Erwin Drug” just means that the drug store commissioned the postcard run).  American News Company of Boston farmed out a lot of the black-and-white work to Curt Teich in Chicago.  The inventory number does seem to indicate ANC.  However, I’m still working on this.  I have several cards in my collection that have the same back design and one seems to indicate it was done by Asheville Post Card Company.
Another maybe: this design often is shown with “COMMERCIALCHROME” AND “OCTOCHROME” in place of the “BLACK AND WHITE” wording.  It gets complicated.
Whatever.  This bridge was a replacement for an earlier timber structure and is, according to Goforth, is a TPG, a through plate girder style built on stone piers (possible: Goforth had access to original construction data and may have been using the TPG abbreviation to mean “timber plate girder”). It’s 864′ long.  This view is looking back toward Erwin. Note the steps up to the railroad grade.
This is the same bridge in 2014 (36 05 56.8N, 82 26 34.9W – Google Earth coordinate data entry):

The bridge is now a through pony plate girder and the piers are still there, but have been added on to in order to raise the level of the track.  There are houses on the left of this,at Unaka Springs, but no stairs.

Wakenva Default Detector

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Okay, this is the default detector at Wakenva VA, about halfway way between Trammel and Nora on the original Clinchfield line (now CSX).
My question is: Every reference source I’ve gone to says that “Wakenva” is a portmanteau word (mashup, i.e.) comprising West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.  People, look at the word!
It would have to be “WEkenva” for that to work.  Hmm.

Clover Branch Trestle

 

I’m looking southeast down Highway 38.  Days Creek is on the right, under the extended part of this deck girder that once served the old Clover Branch of the Clinchfield Railroad.  The date plate is right about where that white spot is (the white is paint that covered over whomever Danny C loved at one time).  This is a Virginia Bridge & Iron structure made in Roanoke in 1948.  Holmes Mill is about .64 mile down this road.  There’s a currently out-of-use coal sorting plant behind me.  If I had backed up a little bit and turned around to take a shot, you’d see two conveyors coming down to the plant. You can see it on Google Earth 36.87884, -83.01097.

Bear Pen Gap tunnel

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A person who follows this blog queried me on a tunnel he’d found access to of Hwy. 83 in Dickenson County VA.  I searched it out and found what it was, but I couldn’t find a blog entry about it.  I’d slipped up.  I thank the guy who caught this.
This is Bear Pen Gap tunnel, west portal, taken in April, 2011.  In my original digital photograph, the east portal is just barely visible at 1/2 mile away.  Returning to this portal today, May 24, 2015, I couldn’t see the other portal.  Part of the tunnel may have collapsed.  Very dangerous.
The air coming out of this tunnel today was cool enough to condense breath.
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This is the east portal, taken in April, 2011.  The water, as of May, 2015, was still flowing off the left side ledge.  This portal is a little over a half mile from Fremont.
This was the one tunnel on the Clinchfield Railroad’s old Fremont branch, which, starting in 1947, ran from Fremont to Moss #1 mine a little over 14 miles away.  The mine shut down in 1989, but this line was used for a couple more years hauling wood chips from an operation at the Moss location.
The latest rail date we saw in this area is 1972, Lackawanna.
As we walked up to this portal four years ago, a kid (may 13-14 years old?) came down the embankment.  He was totally togged out in Army fatigues – cap to boots – and was sporting a fake pistol in a proper holster.  We all nodded to each other and passed on, but my buddy and I exchanged a puzzled look.  Cosplay is everywhere.
Note: a bear “pen” is a place where early settlers trapped bears and killed them for meat.

Buffer stop

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Back a long time ago, a Clinchfield Railroad spur peeled off the main line at Kingsport Yard and came down to this stop, which looks to be a Linden-made piece, next to Oakwood Market on West Sullivan Street.  I assume it provided ship-ins to the grocery store and ship-ins and -outs for Roberts-Johnson Lumber Company.  The lumber company burned down sometime in the ’70s, I think.  Willing to stand corrected on that.  I can’t find a reference for it.
It’s amazing, sometimes, to see just what survives over the years…

CXS Pony Plate Bridge

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This is a multiple unit pony plate bridge over the Nolichucky River (in the background) and some privately-held land.  This is looking northwest.  The bridge is about 680′ long and belongs to CSX (old Clinchfield).   There’s a big dent on the top of the plate nearest the camera, indicating that some time in the past, something got off the tracks.  To the left of where I’m standing (36.09812, -82.44180) is the old community of Unaka Springs.

Vandals have relieved all sections of this bridge of their manufacturer’s date plates.  Boo.  Hiss.

#53 Honeycutt tunnel

This eastern portal of Honeycutt tunnel is at 35.86638030, -81.969960.  The tunnel is 1,688′ long and about a half mile or so west of the Ashford Cut.  The reface date on the lintel is 1923. This, of course, is the penultimate tunnel on the line from Elkhorn City KY and Marion NC.  I stood and looked at this tunnel for quite a few minutes, knowing this was the end of an over two-year project to document these tunnels.  This was the last tunnel to be photographed, since we had gone into Marion two weeks earlier and had recorded the tunnel there.  My buddy walked over to an outcropping over to the right of  the line, back about 50′ or so, to investigate what appeared to be a cave.  It wasn’t, but he found two stone cairns there.  Since this tunnel is relatively isolated, I wonder if they were piled up by the workers here in 1907 – 1908.  Could have been grave markers, too, since many men, often foreign labor, died blasting out these tunnels and doing the hard labor of laying a railroad.

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The Loops: 4th Rocky

Imentioned in an earlier posting that 3rd Rocky tunnel (centered at 35.85881, -81.99896), was opened up, according to Goforth, in 1977.  It was originally about 420′ long.  As Butch Adkins commented, this was to widen the area to extend a siding track, not due to any instability of the ridge.
This, however, is the very sturdy 4th Rocky tunnel, just 179′ long.  This southwest portal is at 35.863089, -81.990881.  No visible date on the lintel.  We were rather tired by the time we got to this tunnel, having walked from 2nd Rocky down past the remnants of 3rd Rocky.  It was only about 2 miles, but, then it was 2 miles back.

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The Loops: 2nd Rocky

Just about 770′ to the south of 1st Rocky is 2nd Rocky.  It’s 757′ long. This south portal is at 35.865584, -82.004314.  The date on the refurb portal is 1918. You have to get permission to cross private land to get to both 1st Rocky and 2nd Rocky and there are two ways to get to them after that.  Fairly easy.  4th Rocky is a long trek away.  Believe me.

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This is the northern portal of 2nd Rocky.  The date is partly eroded. I can see 192, but the fourth numeral is gone.

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The Loops: 1st Rocky

I’m posting these tunnels as they descend to Marion NC, but the pictures weren’t taken sequentially.  This was of necessity, since we’ve taken about four trips to figure out ways to get to these often isolated works of man.  This last Sunday was my long anticipated “that’s a wrap” trip.  We got the two tunnels that finished off the quest to photograph the 54 tunnels between Elkhorn City and Marion NC (there were 55 tunnels, but 3rd Rocky was opened up in 1977…there would have been 56, but the Ashford Cut couldn’t support a tunnel – and a gracious thanks to Dr. Brown for that piece of information).  So, here we are at 1st Rocky, 716′ long and this, the southern portal, located at 35.869675, -82.006134.  This tunnel, which is the first on the long glide down to Marion, is so named because it’s rocky.  The platform to the left, (see comment below)

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#31 Sensabaugh tunnel

Located through Sensabaugh Ridge at 36.577409, -82.625001, this bendy little (348′)  tunnel is about a half mile south of Click tunnel, on the other side of Sensabaugh Valley, just a hop, skip and a jump from Beartown.  We’re almost 89 miles from Elkhorn City.  This view is looking south.  I found a really nice piece of quartz near here, but I didn’t keep it.  “Oh, joy, another piece of quartz.”

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#8 Hewitt tunnel

This is Hewitt Tunnel, about 13.6 miles from Elkhorn City.  This was the most difficult tunnel for us to reach, since we opted not to wade the McClure River (it would have been easier to do that…the river’s not really deep in that area), but to drive in on a road I’d spotted on Google Earth.   The gravel road was about a mile downhill with drainage berms cut across the road a regular intervals.  I got my Honda Civic over them with minimal scraping going down, but coming back was a white knuckler as the car spun in the gravel and failed to gain traction.  With my buddy’s pushing and the little car’s gutsy (!) front wheel drive, we managed to get the job done, but my hands were shaking from adrenaline when we got back to the main road. I also found out later that all that spinning and stuff had basically destroyed my tires.  It was time for new rubber, anyway.