Old 09-20-2017, 12:21 AM   #1
MassArt Images
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Default Natural Tunnel in Virginia advice needed

Getting ready for our annual RV trip. Heading to Myrtle Beach as long as Maria doesn't wreck in the next few days. On the way back heading into the Blue Ridge Mountains. I somehow managed to make us stop (hee,hee) at Natural Tunnel State Park for a night or two. What NS line runs through there and what is the frequency of movements there. It looks like southbound trains are better for pics. What else rail related is nearby? Aren't the two trestles over Copper Creek?? nearby? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:18 PM   #2
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It's the NS "Appalachia District" which runs from Norton, VA to Bulls Gap, TN. Last time I was there it was pretty dead. Nothing but coal loads and empties. You do get some CSX trackage rights coal trains too off of the L&N at Big Stone Gap (which get off near Kingsport at "Frisco".

Ron Flannery can give you more detail about actual frequency because he lives in Big Stone Gap. I have heard traffic is WAY down.

It's a VERY scenic line and there are LOTS of great photo vantage points, but the challenge lately is finding a train...
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Old 09-21-2017, 01:02 PM   #3
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Seems like NS prefers to burn up the CSX trackage over copper creek instead of the Appy District. You'd probably get 1 maybe 2 trains during a 2 day stay through the tunnel. The Clinchfield would be your best bet for traffic (starnes overlook, copper creek, etc.) but still not exactly a high volume route currently. There's plenty of great shots within 20 miles of Natural Tunnel, but not enough trains to fill em

Loyd L.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:15 PM   #4
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Is there a place to pull off of 665 and is the trail to Starnes overlook easy to find? What radio frequencies would I need to monitor for CSX an NS in that area. I have the Scanner Radio Deluxe app on my phone. Is cell service good in the area to use the app and is the NS and CSX Tri-state RR stream good for the Clinchfield line?
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Old 09-22-2017, 03:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
Seems like NS prefers to burn up the CSX trackage over copper creek instead of the Appy District. You'd probably get 1 maybe 2 trains during a 2 day stay through the tunnel. The Clinchfield would be your best bet for traffic (starnes overlook, copper creek, etc.) but still not exactly a high volume route currently. There's plenty of great shots within 20 miles of Natural Tunnel, but not enough trains to fill em

Loyd L.
It's quite a bit shorter (quicker) for southbound coal off of the Clinch Valley to go via the Clinchfield than it is to continue on to Norton on the CV and then down to Frisco via the Appalachia District. This translates into perhaps one fewer crew in the grand scheme of things.

So most of what you get on the Appalachia district is coal loads originating off of the ex-Interstate RR at Andover/Appalachia or CSX trackage rights trains off the L&N connection at Big Stone Gap. Not much running from what I am hearing between Appalachia and Norton these days.
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Old 09-22-2017, 04:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Is there a place to pull off of 665 and is the trail to Starnes overlook easy to find?
Yes and Yes.

Quote:
What radio frequencies would I need to monitor for CSX an NS in that area.
CSX is 161.100 road and 161.520 Dispatcher and I think NS is 160.950

Quote:
I have the Scanner Radio Deluxe app on my phone. Is cell service good in the area to use the app and is the NS and CSX Tri-state RR stream good for the Clinchfield line?
I have decent service in most areas with Verizon. Can't vouch for anybody else. If you're refering to this stream - http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/24411 it does not offer anything close to the Clinchfield or NS appy.

Loyd L.
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Old 10-15-2017, 01:36 PM   #7
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@Loyd. The trail to Starnes Overlook was hard for me to find. I think I might have used a deer path. Nice view from up there.

I saw three trains in 1 and 1/2 days, all on the NS line. Didn't realize that there was another tunnel right by the Natural Tunnel. Very cool spot and the camping at the state park was great! I would love to go back a spend a week there, but would first have to create havoc elsewhere that would cause CSX and NS to re-route trains through area.

Have you heard anything about 1309 at the WMSR? Is it gonna be available for the November event?
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Old 10-16-2017, 08:16 PM   #8
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@Loyd. The trail to Starnes Overlook was hard for me to find. I think I might have used a deer path. Nice view from up there.
I guess I have a nose for it.

Quote:
I saw three trains in 1 and 1/2 days, all on the NS line. Didn't realize that there was another tunnel right by the Natural Tunnel. Very cool spot and the camping at the state park was great! I would love to go back a spend a week there, but would first have to create havoc elsewhere that would cause CSX and NS to re-route trains through area.
You did well on getting 3 trains. That line is quite good, but never enough trains to shoot all the spots.

Quote:
Have you heard anything about 1309 at the WMSR? Is it gonna be available for the November event?
November 2018? Maybe

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Old 10-19-2017, 02:37 AM   #9
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Is there a Kilroy Overlook as well?
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Old 10-28-2017, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post
Seems like NS prefers to burn up the CSX trackage over copper creek instead of the Appy District. You'd probably get 1 maybe 2 trains during a 2 day stay through the tunnel. The Clinchfield would be your best bet for traffic (starnes overlook, copper creek, etc.) but still not exactly a high volume route currently. There's plenty of great shots within 20 miles of Natural Tunnel, but not enough trains to fill em

Loyd L.
It's also substantially shorter for them to send CV coal trains over the Clinchfield than it is to go from St. Paul to Frisco via Norton and Big Stone Gap. I've heard trains running up the CV to Frisco via Norton have to use an extra crew to make it

So the only traffic they are sending that way is coal originating on the Interstate or closer to Norton.

I'm not sure what Norton is like these day
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:09 PM   #11
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Gonna put in work somewhere on NS after the Santa Train fiasco dies down. I'll let ya know what is going on in Norton.

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