1. When things got quiet at Blackey, I figured it was time to head toward home. If I met a northbound train, the sun would be right. The scanner was silent until I got to Deane. The train I had shot in late morning -- C640-16 -- had stopped at Deane, and was just starting to move. CSX 524-563 are starting to move up the stiff grade with the aid of helper C240-16. The sidings and overhead conveyor are part of the Rapid Load plant. Consolidation Coal of Ky. recently sold this operation, and now it is called Deane Processing. C640 is now on the Elkhorn & Beaver Valley Sub. of the former C&O.
2. C640-16 churns up the steep grade of Mill Creek leading to the summit at Beaver Gap.
3. Pusher C240-16 disappears into the deep cut at Beaver Gap. The pusher will hang on until the bottom of the grade at Kite.
4. C640-16 rolls by the east end of Bates passing siding at Kite. He is meeting a train here. Bates has spring switches at both ends. The pusher had previously cut off and is heading back to Isom.
5. Shifter C884-16 (E&BV shifter out of Martin) springs the switch and comes out onto the main. To the right is the siding for Bates Branch Mine.
6. C884 with ES44DC 5486 and C40-8W 7802 pull east past the wye at the mouth of Bates Branch. Just in front of the engines you will notice a rise in track elevation. This is the beginning of the climb up to Beaver Gap.
7. C884 is shoving the last of three cuts of DEEX empties around the wye into the Bates Branch mine.
8. With the aid of a utility brakeman, the train is all in the sidings above the tipple and almost ready to start loading. The derelict ALCo switcher was used when the plant first opened in the '80s, but obviously has not been used in many years.
9. Bates Branch is now owned by International Coal Group - Knott County. There is no mine directly feeding into the plant. All raw coal is trucked in. You can see the wye in the background. The train shoved in from the left, but will load on the leg to the right.
10. Even though this was a Saturday, coal trucks were bringing in coal and the plant was running.
11. C884 is about ready to "spot up" for loading the first cut. This train will go to Monroe, Mich., via CN at Lang Yard near Toledo.
It's been a long day, and I'm ready to head back over two mountains to home.