L&N 152 Harlan to Appalachia Excursion, 10-11-1986
The photo that TRAINS Mag. used on page 36 of the April 2017 issue brought back memories of a fun excursion through the coal fields. The slide used in Ron Flanary’s article was cropped, and I didn’t recognize it until I pulled out the box.
1. L&N 152 excursion details. Page 1. 1986-10-11.
2. L&N 152 excursion details. Page 2. 1986-10-11.
3. L&N 152 excursion details. Page 3. 1986-10-11.
4. L&N 152 excursion details. Page 4. 1986-10-11.
5. L&N 152 excursion ticket. Item 5. 1986-10-11.
As I barely recall, I almost didn’t get to ride. Line the NS excursions out of Grundy a couple of years ago featuring Southern 2-8-0 630, the L&N 152 trip sold quickly. I managed to get a ticket through an extraordinary effort. I drove over to Harlan early on that October morning.
No. 152 had departed Louisville on Thursday for Corbin. On Friday it made the short trip up the Cumberland Valley SD to Loyall hauling local passengers. Then early on Saturday 152 puffed out of the former L&N Loyall Yard and backed on the Clover Fork Branch to pick up passengers at the site of the former L&N depot in Harlan.
6. 4-6-2 L&N 152 has just left Loyall and passes the tower at Baxter. The Poor Fork Br. to Lynch diverges in the foreground.
7. Passengers board at the site for the former L&N depot in Harlan.
8. A run-by was arranged at Hagans VA. That’s the “Old CV Main” on the right which was the original main line through Middlesboro. At this time the portion you see was used as a back-in and back-out passing siding. Photographers could have done without that CSX official riding the side of the engine.
9. Southbound beside the passing siding at Hubbard Springs VA.
10. There was quite a crowd in Appalachia. Kentucky Railway Museum’s ex-Monon BL-2 was needed for assistance on the 12-car train.
11. Former AT&SF business car 56 was privately owned. That’s the long-abandoned L&N passenger depot on the left.
12. L&N 152 turns on the wye in Appalachia.
13. NS 6624-6561-6614-6600 roll on their trackage toward Andover Yard.
14. The best run-by was just north of town at Bee Rock Tunnel. At 47 feet, 7 inches in length, it is the shortest on the former L&N if not the U.S. 152 is backing for the run-by.
15. L&N 152 Harlan-Appalachia Run-by. View 2.
16. L&N 152 Harlan-Appalachia Run-by. View 3.
17. The 81-year-old Pacific storms out of the short tunnel with a vengeance.
18. Back at Hagans, our train has to pull north on the "Old CV Main” to allow a waiting southbound coal train to proceed toward Erwin.
19. SBD SD50s 8522 and 8598 have GP38 4120 which is still in L&N paint!
20. C30-7s 7056-7066 push against the former SCL caboose.
21. C&OHS member and steam aficionado videos our passage.
22. Entering Redwine Tunnel near Flagler KY. Get ready for the smoke!
23. After de-training in Harlan, 152 heads to Loyall Yard for the night. On Sunday it would go to Corbin for a short round trip south to Holton TN and back. On Monday the train would ferry back to Louisville via the Lebanon Branch.
Had I the vacation then that I do now I might have spent several days following her around.
Thirty years hence things have changed a lot. No. 152 is still operable, but CSX won’t allow any excursions. There is very little coal traffic on the south end of the CV (or anywhere else for that matter). The former CV from Big Stone Gap to Appalachia through scenic Bee Rock Tunnel is no longer owned by CSX and has been out of service for decades. The Lebanon Branch from Sinks to Lebanon Jct. is gone.
This was one fun day!!
Train images used by permission of Everett N Young