In the fall of 2015, the War on Coal claimed its first two major casualties near and dear to the rail enthusiast’s heart—CSX deemed the mighty Clinchfield to no longer be a through-route, and Norfolk Southern mothballed fifty miles of its ex-Virginian Princeton-Deepwater District. Lines revered as the epitome of railroading in the Appalachians suddenly went quiet. The cacophony of loaded coal trains grinding and groaning upgrade, protesting against the forces of gravity, was replaced with stillness and silence.
It seemed then that the end must be in sight for coal in the Appalachians. All good things must end. But we certainly didn’t expect the end like this, so suddenly, and not before our very eyes.
This great misty, mysterious land is increasingly becoming a vast necropolis of closed, decaying and forgotten coal tipples, silos and washers and chutes and loading bins like sad monoliths, monuments to a way of life that is gradually fading away. Read more