Even though the weather was awful and I was sick, I went after the annual Santa Train last November 19th. The train departed Shelby at 6:00, 30 minutes earlier than before. I caught up with it at Elkhorn City as dawn was breaking. It appears that the longer schedule is because CSX has lowered the track speed to 25 MPH.
P901-19 had rebuilt “SD40-3” 4384 and F40 9999 with 11 cars. Sid Vaught (he’s a roster nut) revealed that 4384 is ex-Conrail and rebuilt at Boise ID. It had an added yellow stripe on the nose and “Clinchfield”. The circular Clinchfield logo was applied to both sides of the short nose. The sun came out for a few seconds at Dante and I rostered it.
Like last year I heard the NS Clinch Valley Dispatcher talk to a train presumably around St. Paul, and she asked the crew their CSX symbol. On down the Kingsport SD the rail wasn’t shiny due to recent drizzle, so I assumed that the NS train was coming south. A female railfan from Jenkins KY, revealed that was indeed the case. After my last shot of Santa at Slant (north end of Starnes passing siding) I doubled back. Before too long NS 8953-UP 8850 rolled by with 59 loads of scrubber stone in NS gray hoppers. I understood his symbol to be CSX “V” or “C” 557-19 but NS symbol was 67V.
Also a loaded coal train was parked in McClure mine siding waiting for a crew. It has CSX 57-976. McClure, as you’all know, it the only business south of Shelby now on CSX. I’ve heard that it may shut down when their present contract is fulfilled. Lets hope not. Anyway:
1. Santa Train 2016 poster.
2. P901-19 passing Elkhorn Yard. The CRR yard office would have been on the right. That’s our new Breaks Substation on the hill. CSX 4384-9999. Elkhorn Yard.
3. CSX 57-976 parked at McClure Mine awaiting a crew to go to Shelby. CSX 57-976. McClure mine VA.
4. P901-19 passing the switch to the McClure Mine. He is now on rail that hasn’t felt the pulse of a steel wheel since the last Santa Train. CSX 4384-9999. McClure VA.
5. Caney Tunnel at MP 23.26. CSX 4384. McClure VA.
6. CSX 4384 “SD40-3” awaiting the highball at Dante VA.
7. CSX 4384. Dante VA. View 2.
8. CSX SD40-3 4384 Dante VA. View 3.
9. CSX 4384 Dante VA. View 4.
10. Passing Dante Yard and the inactive engine terminal. The yard is now a repository for stored coal cars. CSX 4384-9999. Dante yard VA.
11. Crossing the Clinch River upon at St. Paul. NS only uses this segment of the Kingsport Subdivision now. CSX 4384. St Paul VA.
12. Slowing to a stop at Dungannon VA. CSX 4384.
13. CSX 4384. Dungannon VA. View 2.
14. CSX 4384. Dungannon VA. View 3.
15. There were other groups passing out gifts at Dungannon as well. CSX 4384. Dungannon VA. View 4.
16. The former CRR depot which has been relocated a couple of hundred yards next to the highway. CRR depot Dungannon VA.
17. CSX depot. Dungannon VA. Commemorative Plaque .
18. The “Hardwood Straight” is two miles of tangent between MP 58 and 60. Supposedly it is the longest tangent on the old Clinchfield. CSX 4384. Hardwood VA.
19. CSX 4384. Hardwood VA. View 2.
20. CSX 4384. Hardwood VA. View 3.
21. CSX 4384. Hardwood VA. View 4.
22. Passing the north end of Starnes passing siding at the hamlet of Slant VA. CSX 4384. NE Starnes VA.
23. CSX 4384. NE Starnes VA. View 2.
24. NS 8953-UP 8850 on 68V (Pounding Mill quarry at St. Clair to Catawba NC) with 59 loads of scrubber limestone for the power plant there. MP 62.87 at Wood VA.
25. NS 8953-UP 8850. Wood VA. View 2.
26. NS 8953-UP 8850. Starnes VA.
27. NS 8953. Starnes VA. View 2.
28. NS 68V crossing Copper Creek Trestle. This train will get on the former Southern Ry. at Frisco and continue its trip to Bulls Gap TN, the end of the run from Carbo VA. NS 8953-UP 8850. Copper VA.
It was cold and dreary, so I headed home.