1. East end of Shelby Yard. The traditional site of “Extra Souths” waiting for crews to go to Erwin, TN, is now history.
2. No engines or rolling stock in the yard except the tank car.
3. Mid afternoon freight went west. This was not the familiar Q697 however; it was X803-15, a “clean out” train that originated in Erwin with eight engines and 120 cars.
4. CSX 8465 was probably a remote-controlled yard engine from Erwin or Kingsport.
5. CSX 8465. View 2.
6. CSX 8549.
7. X803-15 waited briefly as shifter C860-17 behind 927 headed east up the passing siding at Wagner with empties for Shelby. Meets would be rare after this.
8. In a location I’ve shot many trains over the years, X803 passes Betsy Layne behind 5218-8549-8465-618-6011-662-8501-742 with a train of miscellaneous CSX rolling stock from the Erwin car shop and project shop plus a few private cars. For the foreseeable future at least, this will be the last “manifest” seen on Big Sandy.
9. A Santee-Cooper (SCWX) was finishing up loading at Ivel behind 988. Beforehand these trains would go south through Shelby and Erwin. I “Touch Traced” this train, and it went to Big Sandy Junction and east to Hinton. I guess it took the old ACL (A-Line) to South Carolina. A Shelby crew usually loads trains at Ivel.
10. Some of you may remember that we toured the Ivel facility during the 1997 C&OHS Convention in Paintsville. Many loading points on the former C&O, CRR and L&N in Eastern Ky. and Southwest Virginia are shut down. Most of the rest load less tonnage that in the past.
It is a bleak situation brought on by depleting coal reserves, more stringent environmental rules, and the loss of the utility market to cheap natural gas. The integrated steel mill is gradually disappearing and so is the demand for domestic coke. Witness AK blowing out “Amanda” and USS blowing out their Fairfield blast furnace recently. Steel is now made by melting down the huge amount of scrap we have created over the years. I figured this day would come but not so soon. I thought the manifest, grain, ethanol, etc. business would save this route. It didn’t. Think of the hundreds of railroad employees whose lives have been turned upside down. It is a “perfect storm.”