NS/CSX - Middlesboro and Harlan County KY - 03-30-2016
1. Historical marker for the Scotia mine explosion. Beside US 119 at Oven Fork in Letcher County KY. Scotia Mine Disaster marker.
2. CSX “North Loyall” signal looking north toward Corbin KY on CSX’s Cumberland Valley Subdivision. HCSX hoppers are stored on the siding. This is the beginning of CTC. There was nothing in Loyall Yard except stored CSX hoppers and gons. CSX signal N. Loyall KY.
3. Looking south at “North Loyall”. CSX signal N. Loyall KY.
4. Former L&N interlocking tower at Baxter KY. Loyall Yard is around the curve in the distance. The switch on the right is for the Poor Fork SD to Cumberland where the Lynch 3 mine is active. CSX tower Baxter KY.
5. Looking south at CSX MP 232 at Wallins KY. L&N’s old Banner Fork Br. once ran through the town in the background to Fordson Coal (Ford Motor Co.) mines on up Wallins Creek. Sue and I found the footers to an old tipple, but there were other mines on the 5-mile branch also. CSX MP 232 Wallins KY.
6. Looking north toward Corbin KY at MP 232. The CV was double track until the ‘60s. CSX MP 232 Wallins KY.
7. The first car of coal was loaded on the L&N extension from Pikeville into Harlan County in 1911. First Coal Shipped By Rail marker.
8. First Coal Shipped By Rail Marker - panel 2.
9. This historical marker is beside US 119 at the intersection with KY 219. First Coal Shipped By Rail marker - panel 3.
Nothing was happening on CSX. The Straight Creek Br. out of Pineville was rusty. After hitting a couple of thrift stores in Pikeville KY, Sue and I headed to Middlesboro KY.
10. NS 1095-7209-8005 on mine run T32 pull north into Middlesboro yard with a few loads from Appollo Fuels’ Gravity Yard mine just east of town. NS 1095-7209-8005 Middlesboro KY.
11. NS maintains the track around Middlesboro now, although CSX (ex-L&N) probably owns it. CSX’s Harbell Br. (old CV main) stops at the north end of the yard. Previously Southern Ry. got into Middlesboro via trackage rights through Cumberland Gap Tunnel from Cumberland Gap TN. Southern’s line comes up from Knoxville TN. CSX still has access to Appollo Fuels, Bell County Coal, and Four Rivers Coal. The Harbell Branch wasn’t shiny but it wasn’t rusted over either. NS 1095-7209-8005 Middlesboro KY.
The brakeman on T32 said they worked Mon-Wed-Thur-Friday starting at 0800. They worked Appollo Fuels on Mon-Wed-Fri and Bell County Coal on Thursday. CSX usually came in 1-2 times a week. T32 lays in on Tuesday for lack of business. I don’t know the schedule of the trains to and from Knoxville.
12. T32 has dropped their Appollo loads in the yard and will now pull Four Rivers Coal. CSX authority would begin just around the curve. NS 1095 Middlesboro KY.
13. Ex-Conrail SD80MAC 7209 was used on the South Fork Branch in PA after NS took over. NS SD80AC 7209 Middlesboro KY.
14. CSX traded their share of the Conrail SD80MACs (12 units) to NS a couple of years ago for 12 SD40-2s. NS SD80AC 7209 Middlesboro KY. View 2.
15. Because of fouling the CSX block limit, T32 shoves the first 10 loads from the tipple down the yard lead. NS 1095-7209-8005 Middlesboro KY. View 3.
16. NS 1095-7209-8005 Middlesboro KY. View 4.
17. T32 shoves the second 10 from the tipple down the yard lead. NS 1095 Middlsboro KY.
18. Four Rivers Coal is a small operation that caters to industrial customers. Their outlet tracks have a capacity of 10 + 10. Four Rivers Coal tipple Middlesboro KY.
19. T32 shoves back. The brakeman will close and lock the switch for the main line. This will be reported to the Knoxville West End Dispatcher. NS 1095-7209-8005 Middlesboro KY.
20. NS 1095 Middlesboro KY.
21. NS 1095 Middlesboro KY. View 2.
22. NS 1095 Middlesboro KY. View 3.
23. Coming back to the south end of the yard. NS 8005 Middlesboro KY.
24. T32 crosses Yellow Creek as it switches the outbound train for a later crew. NS 8005-7209 Middlesboro KY.
25. Looks like a great place to get your walking exercise. NS 8005 Middlesboro KY.
26. The crew is done for the day, but the engines are left idling. NS 8005 Middlesboro KY.
27. The engine door is secured with a lock, and the crews goes home. NS 8005 Middlesboro KY.
28. Bell County Coal has NS empty tubs. KY 74 crosses the track ahead of the batch-loader. Bell County uses their ex-C&O GP9 to load the cars. Bell County Coal Hignite tipple Middlesboro KY.
We went up to Cumberland Gap National Park and then ate at Cracker Barrel. As expected nothing was happening on the Cumberland Valley on the way home. Ky. Dept. of Highways has another road project that will improve US 119 to the south side of Pine Mountain at Oven Fork. It will end near the Scotia Mine site.
Train images used by permission of Everett N Young