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).
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.
This much-used Plasser American unit was parked a little south of Dante (winter, 2015). I think it’s used to replace ties. There was a lot of that going on at the time.
Note that the just-completed Gotthard Base tunnel in Switzerland uses concrete ties, very closely grouped.
This is a CSX
Clevinger Branch Coal Run subdivision (read about it here) tunnel near Clevinger Branch Road (3227), about 3 miles NE of Coal Run Village in Pike County KY. Coordinates (at center) are 37.5519, -82.5239. It’s about 1,500′ long on an active line.
Inside the tunnel, the ties are concrete:
The ballast is covering the center of the ties. I’ve seen flat (and cracked) concrete ties at the Indian Ridge tunnel in Johnson City, but none like these. Interesting.
My buddy, the Navigator, had spotted on Google Earth what he thought was an extant turntable at Shelby Yard in Shelbiana KY. So, we went up there and crossed over into the yard, metaphorically whistling innocently and stepping quietly, and, there it was:
It’s not operational; however, the current setup would have allowed it to rotate a locomotive (or four or five large African elephants, for that matter) or move the locomotive platform to connect to three different tracks, probably to repair facilities and so forth.
This yard was set up in 1917 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. It’s now maintained by CSX.
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.
First of all, Loyall Yard is pretty big. To get a look at it in its entirety, check Google Earth at 36.85470, -83.34902. The yard was built by the L&N in 1920 and originally had numerous tipples, a turntable and many other structures. The town of Loyall was once known as Shonn, which is local slang for “railroad siding” (Wikipedia). The yard and town are protected from Cumberland River flooding by a flood wall and gate.
This structure, probably a control point of some sort is just east of Loyall Yard and is abandoned.
This solidly built double-track 1925 Fort Pitt Bridge Works (Pittsburgh PA) structure spans the Cumberland River just west of CSX’s Loyall Yard. The bridge, in three sections, all box trusses (for a total of around 410′ in length), is at 36.85093, -83.36837. It’s on an active line that winds on into Pineville. This view is looking more or less west. To give you a sense of scale, that’s my buddy standing in the second section on the right hand side of the tracks.
Here we are at Marion tunnel, the northern portal (36.688458, -81.980895), a little over 219 miles from Elkhorn City KY on the CSX. This is the final tunnel on the line. It’s pretty much all flat land from here to Spartanburg SC. Marion tunnel is 1,073′ long and the lintel date is 1913, which means it’s probably original to the tunnel. That’s a CSX locomotive coming out of the tunnel, heading up into The Loops. Although this ends my project to document all the tunnels on this CSX line, there’s more to come.
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)
We’re now a little over 191 miles from Elkhorn City. We’re at the southernmost point of the first of The Loops, about a quarter mile past Quinn Knob tunnel. 3rd Washburn is a curved tunnel, 915′ long. This is the western portal at 35.839883, -82.037946. The date on the lintel is 1913. Snipes is next, but, as I said, we’re heading down to Norris Lake for an interesting series of tunnels (if you’re into tunnels). We’ll get back here real soon. The tunnels will still be here.
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.
2nd Washburn, 370′ long, is on a 2,000′ straight stretch between 1st Washburn and Quinn Knob, where the track begins to loop back to the northeast. This is the north portal (35.847448, -82.044323) of 2nd Washburn with a 1925 refurb date (same on the southern portal).
This is 1st Washburn, just about a half-mile down the line from Upper Bridal Path. The tunnel is 770′ long and has a slight curve. This is the southwest, lower, rather eroded portal at 35.848998, -82.044190 or so. It and the two other Washburn bores carry the name of Washburn Ridge.
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.
If you’d been hanging out around this area in, say, 1777, you would have seen a fort down near the river, at a location that’s probably been obliterated by Tennessee Eastman or the plant that preceded it. That would have been Fort Patrick Henry (nowhere near the dam that carries the name). However, the tunnel wouldn’t have been here, since it was completed in
1927 1913 or so. There are just three more tunnels in Tennessee before the rail line heads into the Appalachian Mountains (and that’s ap-UH-latch-ian, not ap-UH-lace-ian) (’round here). This tunnel is 154′ long. First is the western portal, then a look back at the eastern portal. A bridge here (which can be clearly seen on Google Earth) overlooks the old Kingsport waterworks and the never-completed 3-C railbed. Over the river and on to Colonial Heights.