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).


This is the original location of the Fremont train station in Dickenson County VA:


As the railroad went up to Moss mine, Fremont became a busy place…built in 1915.  Sometime later, a giant grabbed the depot and put it on the hill.  Up there is Fremont Avenue (Highway 83 which wends its way between Clintwood and Clinchco.  On the other side of the tracks, across a rather heavy-duty bridge over the McClure River, is Highway 63 which takes you to, surprise!, McClure.
The renovated depot, by the way, looks great and continues to well serve the people who travel in this area.

Wrecked locomotives

We were up in Dickenson County on Sunday tracking down two tunnels I’d missed in our last sweep and we happened to turn onto Stratton Creek Road and found these two locomotives, CSX 105 and 439, unlocked and unguarded.  Both were heavily damaged. I clambered up into 105 (all the usual steps were stripped away) and carefully walked to the engineer’s control room and took a couple of pictures (and nothing else).  The second seat’s windshield was blown inward, but that could have been done by vandals.  I did a little research later and found that 105 had been the lead engine in a derailment, but where I don’t know.  I couldn’t find anything about 439.This is the front of 439.This is the engineer’s control area…not badly damaged at all.

But whatever happened to these two engines must have been scary to be in.

#5 Hills Mills Tunnel

Built into the remnants of an ancient sea floor, this is Hills Mills Tunnel in Dickenson County.  It’s 448′ long and was faced up in 1920.  However, as you can see, the years haven’t been kind to the right side of the facing.  Note the old power line draped over the portal.  Most all these tunnels once had working lights in them, probably for work crews.  We’re now 9.05 miles from Elkhorn City, moving south.  Next up, Russell Tunnel.

Tunnel #4 Skaggs Hole tunnel

Here we are at Skaggs Hole (or just Skaggs or Skeggs) Tunnel, all 519′ of it.  This one’s near Bartlick in Dickenson County. It was faced up in 1931. It’s centered at 37.256862, -82.327199.   A trestle comes into the tunnel over the Russell Fork River…we’re about 7 miles, trackwise, from Elkhorn City. It was a long side road drive to get access to this one.  We’d parked our car and were standing at the track kind of looking down the line when a motorcycle came up.  Lee flagged the guy down and asked him about the tunnel.  The guy knew where the tunnel was and gave us great directions.  He worked in Kingsport, it turned out, but he lived in Bartlick, with his new bride.  Nice guy.

The other portal of Skaggs Tunnel.  Stand here, turn around, and you’ll be looking down the track as the old Clinchfield rolled south.  We’ll be rolling south, also, as we head on down to Hills Mills and Russell Tunnels.  Did I mention how cool, temperature-wise, these tunnels are on a hot day?  And they’re bloody freezing in winter…literally freezing.  And Skaggs Hole, by the way, is a feature in the river near the tunnel’s Elkhorn City portal.