Before we start, I did NOT take this photo---but I did have something to do with the image. Several years ago (1998-99) when I was assembling images for my "CV Division Album" book (which you can still buy at the L&NHS "Company Store" or possibly other vendors) I received several fine black and white shots from my friend from Pikeville, KY, Everett Young. You'll find several of his shots in the book. But, of course you can never use every photo, so some of them went unpublished.
I had two prints made from the same spot, but on different days. One shot depicted a train crossing over the north portal of Hagans (VA) Tunnel, and another shot on another day featured a train about to enter the tunnel. Could I possibly merge parts of these images into a single picture? Of course the answer is yes, if you use some software like Photoshop(R).
So, this isn't a "photo," it's an "illustration." The train on the top was photographed by Everett on November 9, 1975. Train 2nd 864 is dropping downgrade into Hagans, where it will follow the lead into the middle tail track of the switchback. Everett listed the motive power as 1513-1515-1306-1316-1323 (two GE U25Cs and three Alco C420s--although the Alcos are hidden by the trees). The lower shot was taken on December 28, 1975--a few weeks after the first. L&N 1st 864 was led by 1426-1412-1513 (an Alco C630, C628, and a U25C--in the fact the same unit pictured on the upper train from the previous month). Everett noted the lower train had 75 cars (empty hoppers I'm sure).
Did scenes like this actually happen? Yes...and quite often back then. It would take up to 45 minutes for a train to negotiate the switchback, so any following train could easily catch up. The whole switchback was in yard limits, so they could both be in that limit simultaneously. Back in the heavy traffic times of the '70s, '80s and '90s, you could capture something like this for real. I saw it a few times, but never was in a position to get a good shot. Also, the foliage along the upper track pretty much blocked the view of a northbound train after a few years.
Even if it took this as fake, the resulting image is how the L&N's Cumberland Valley Subdivision was looking back then. I would have loved to been on the Kentucky side of the tunnel to catch the 1426 as she rolled back into daylight.
Images by Everett Young, illustration created by Ron Flanary.