Chase Freeman decided to take a day trip over to McDowell County, Tuesday, 01-04-2022, to check out Norfolk Southern. Chase would soon be commencing a career with NS as a conductor trainee, so opportunities to get together might be rare for a while. I picked Chase up in Grundy, and we headed across the hill to Dry Fork.
1. Black Wolf Mining mine #32 at Caretta WV. Some confusion here. They either truck the coal up to the blue prep. plant or to some other location because they don’t have a load-out.
2. Conveyor comes right out of the portal. Caretta WV. Black Wolf Mining #32.
3. Caretta Minerals prep. plant and 110-car batch-weigh loader is on the site of the old Consolidation Coal mine #261 lka Olga #2. The old mine was a shaft mine. Caretta Minerals is part of JSW Steel Holdings. Olga Coal was owned by Youngstown Sheet & Tube, Interlake Iron Co., and Steel Company of Canada. Caretta WV.
4. Opposite view of the plant. WV 16 on right. Caretta WV. Caretta Minerals.
5. N&W List of Stations and Sidings, 01-01-1952. Caretta Br.
6. USGS 1:24,000 scale 1967 War quad showing Caretta Branch from Caretta Br. Jct. (Yukon) to Caretta. War, WV-VA, USGS. Click here for a larger image.
7. Presumably this concrete bridge over Snakeroot Br. at Coalwood was for the road only. Coalwood WV.
8. The Coalwood company office building for Carter Coal Co., Consolidation Coal Co., Carter Coal again and lastly Olga Coal Co. On the left is the former machine shop and material store building. YS&T/Interlake/Stelco acquired Carter Coal in 1947. Olga #1 and #2 mines were connected in 1959. The plant shut down, and the N&W’s Clear Fork Br. became largely inactive. The mines however continued at Coalwood until 1982, but the coal was processed and loaded through the mountain at Olga #2 in Caretta. Out of sight to my left would have been the location of the N&W depot. This vacant area was occupied by the huge company store. Coalwood WV.
9. Coalwood WV interpretive site sign.
10. Coalwood WV interpretive sign - a Company Town. Click here for a larger image.
11. Coalwood WV interpretive sign - the Rocket Boys. Click here for a larger image.
12. Coalwood WV interpretive sign - Mining Operations. Click here for a larger image.
13. Coalwood WV interpretive sign - Government Control. Click here for a larger image.
14. Coalwood WV interpretive sign - George L Carter. Click here for a larger image.
15. Yes this was the same George L. Carter who was instrumental in building the Clinchfield Railroad. Coalwood WV interpretive sign - George L Carter. Slightly different view. Click here for a larger image.
16. The old Olga Coal office building. Coalwood WV.
17. N&W LIST OF STATIONS AND SIDINGS, 01-01-1952. Clear Fork.
18. Employee time table Clear Fork Br.
19. USGS 1:62,500 scale Welch quad 1926 showing N&W Clear Fork Br. from Wilmore to Six. Welch, WV-VA, USGS. Click here for a larger image.
20. South end NS Wilcoe WV yard looking railroad east toward Welch on Tug Fork Branch.
21. NS Wilcoe WV yard. View 2.
22. Yard office (locked up) and 200,000 gal. water tank left over from the steam age. Water tank may have been owned by USC&C. NS Wilcoe WV yard.
23. NS cabs 555533 and 555057. Both are ex-N&W. Wilcoe WV.
24. NS cab C31 class 555533. May be ex-518533? C31s built 1969. Wilcoe WV.
25. Class C32P built 06-1976. NS cab 555057. Wilcoe WV.
26. Tug Sand Lick Stations and Sidings list.
27. Employee time tablet Tug Fork Br 1926.
28. USGS 1:24,000 topo Welch quad 1968 showing Tug tower (Welch) to Wilcoe Yard. Welch, WV, USGS. Click here for a larger image.
29. NS U91 with 8791 comes through Wilcoe yard on 05-29-2014 with 55 empties for Road Fork mine at Munson (USC&C #14). West bound. The main line is at a higher elevation on the left.
30. Westwood Mining is on the Sand Lick Br. between Ream and Elbert. A tandem coal truck was loaded under the batch-weigh, as it doesn’t appear to have a siding. The coal is evidently taken somewhere else for processing. Perhaps Mid-Vol Leasing (fka U. S. Steel 14) at Munson or True Energy Superior on the main line at Superior. This is the former site of U. S. Coal & Coke (U. S. Steel) #7. Westwood Mining Co Ream WV.
31. Operation at Ream on 05-29-2014. Fka USC&C #6 or 7. Sand Lick Br, non-rail tipple.
32. Definitely no track under the load-out. Sand Lick Br non-rail tipple. View 2.
33. Abandoned coke ovens above the former USC&C #8 operation at Elbert. USC&C operated 8 coke ovens. Elbert WV.
34. Shots of No. 8 on 05-29-2014 when it was still somewhat active. Arcelor-Mittal owned it then, but they have been taken over by Cleveland-Cliffs. Elbert.
35. Arcelor Mittal No. 8. View 2. Elbert.
36. The abandoned coke ovens are up around the curve. Arcelor Mittal No. 8. Elbert.
37. USGS 1:24,000 scale Gary quad 1967 showing entire Sand Lick Br. U.S. Steel had a big mine at Filbert, but I neglected to photograph it years ago. All of the USC&C mines fed raw coal to the huge Alpheus prep. plant below Gary. Gary, WV-VA, USGS. Click here for a larger image.
38. No. 8 and the coke ovens were located on the Left Fork at Elbert. USGS 1:6,250 scale Welch quad 1926. Welch, WV-VA, USGS. Click here for a larger image.
From Gary we proceeded on through Anawalt and over the hill to Elkhorn. Here we found an eastbound coal trail just tooling along going up grade. I hit the gas, but we were unable to get ahead by Maybeury. This was a huge train with 10 engines, so we headed on to Bluefield with hopes of beating it.
39. NS 4409-8073-3655 grind up the hill past Clinch Valley Junction in Bluefield, VA, with 778-01 e/b. This is a a double Bailey Mine, PA to Duke Energy’s Roxboro NC power plant (Hyco on NS).
40. 105 cars back are mid-trainNS DPUs 4038-4368. Bluefield VA.
41. 105 more comes pushers NS 1039-1012-4331-4304-4466. Bluefield VA.
42. 210 cars equal 29,735 tons and a length of 11,662 ft. NS has two of these trains. From Shire Oaks Yard they run through Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Bellevue, and south via Portsmouth OH to Roanoke. NS 1039-1012-4331-4304-4466 pushers. Bluefield VA.
43. Stopped in Bluefield, VA. NS 4466-4304-4331-1012-1039 pushers Bluefield VA.
44. Mid-train DPUs being refueled by truck near the site of the old freight depot. NS 4368-4038 DPU. Bluefield WV.
45. Having some light left we decided to return to Grundy via the Pokey. Star Services LLC has a 56-car single car Switchback load-out at Ennis WV. The parent company is Met Resources.
46. Leased GATX SD40-2 3311 moves the cars so they can be loaded. Star Services LLC. Ennis WV.
47. USGS 1:100,000 scale Bluefield quad 1981. Bluefield, WV-VA, USGS. click here for a larger image.
48. USGS 1:24,000 scale Anawalt quad 2017. The road back to the tipple has a guard house. Anawalt, WV-VA, USGS.
We proceeded on to Grundy and Pikeville with no further activity.
For further information check out:
Coalwood, A History of the West Virginia Mining Communities of Coalwood, Caretta and Six by Alex P. Schust and David R. Goad, 2006.
Gary Hollow, A history of the largest coal mining operation in the world by Alex P. Schust, 2005.
Billion Dollar Coal Field, West Virginia’s McDowell and the Industrialization of America, Alex P. Schust, 2010.
Tug Fork, Norfolk & Western Branch Line by Alex Schust and Mason Cooper, N&WHS 2012.