TS20: The Clinchfield Cometh!
Written by: Gary Dolzall.
Now available for Train Simulator is the fabulous Clinchfield Railroad, the spectacular coal-hauler of America’s Appalachian Mountains!
The Appalachian Mountains, coal, and railroading. The three were interwoven and virtually inseparable. Among the great coal-hauling railroads of America’ Appalachians, none was more extraordinary nor more scenic than the Clinchfield Railroad – and now the famed Clinchfield Railroad comes to Train Simulator!
Train Simulator’s new Clinchfield Railroad route re-creates the northern portion of the CRR, where the railroad wove its way through the daunting and magnificent Appalachians of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia and in the process served a variety of on-line coal mines.
Often called the “Rio Grande of the East,” the Clinchfield was constructed almost entirely in the early twentieth century and built to modern and high engineering standards with bridges, trestles, and more than 50 tunnels easing its path through the rugged Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. The Clinchfield’s longest and most famous tunnel – through Sandy Ridge north of Dante, Virginia – stretched 7,854-feet in length and the cumulative length of all the tunnels built on the Clinchfield stretched to nearly 54,000-feet or more than 10 miles!
The Clinchfield’s northern terminus was in the small community of Elkhorn City, Kentucky, where it connected with the Big Sandy Subdivision of the Chesapeake & Ohio, and the CRR extended 276-route miles south to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where it connected with the Charleston & West Carolina subsidiary of the Atlantic Coast Line (later Seaboard Coast Line) as well as the Southern Railway. The Clinchfield also had connections with the Norfolk & Western and Interstate Railroad (later a part of the Southern) at or near St. Paul, Virginia.
In 1924, the Atlantic Coast Line and Louisville & Nashville (the latter of which was itself largely controlled by ACL) gained control of the Clinchfield. In the steam era, the Clinchfield was, not surprisingly, famed for its big steam, which culminated with its roster of 4-6-6-4s, a group of which were largely copies of Union Pacific’s famed Challengers. The Clinchfield began to dieselize in the late 1940s, primary with Electro-Motive stylish gray and yellow-clad F-units and Geeps. In the second-generation of the diesel era, the Clinchfield would call upon EMD and GE motive power, with the EMD SD40 and GP38 becoming the latter-day workhorses of the railroad (wearing first grey and yellow and later black and yellow liveries).
The Clinchfield was both an extraordinary coal hauler and a busy and vital bridge line for manifest freight traffic by providing a link between the Chesapeake & Ohio on its north and the Atlantic Coast Line in the south. Indeed, the CRR regularly carded multiple priority manifest freights a day. But the heart of the Clinchfield and its fame was coal hauling, the majority of which originated on the north end of the railroad which was home to more than a score of mines, tipples, loaders, and coal processing plants. Despite its relatively limited size when measured by route miles, the Clinchfield was one of America’s preeminent coal haulers.
Although controlled by ACL/SCL and L&N for decades, the Clinchfield maintained an independent identity into the 1980s. That finally changed in December 1982 with the merger of its two owners, Seaboard Coast Line and Louisville & Nashville, into Seaboard System. In January 1983, the Clinchfield was likewise folded into the Seaboard System as the new railroad’s Clinchfield Division. The Seaboard System, in turn, became a part of today’s giant CSX system in 1986 and today the ex-Clinchfield remains an active rail line served as CSX’s Kingsport Subdivision.
The new Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad: Elkhorn City – St. Paul route re-creates the legendary railroad as it existed in its final independent years of the early 1980s. The route extends from the railroad’s northern terminus and connection with the C&O at Elkhorn City, Kentucky approximately 42 miles to St. Paul, Virginia, where the CRR connected with the Norfolk & Western at Boody Junction. Along with Elkhorn City yard, the route includes the busy and important Dante, Virginia yard and engine terminal complex which served as the key point of CRR’s coal operations, the 5-mile Haysi branch, the massive McClure mine complex, various on-line mines and loading tipples, and stunning and classic CRR locations such as the “Breaks of the Big Sandy,” towering Pool Point Trestle, and numerous tunnels including the Clinchfield’s famed Sandy Ridge tunnel.
As an engineer on the Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route, you can now take the throttle of classic first- and second-generation Clinchfield Electro-Motive diesels to battle heavy tonnage and twisting grades of up to 1.5 percent. Motive power featured with the route includes the venerable EMD GP7 and F7, the workhorse EMD SD40, and the versatile EMD GP38, all in CRR yellow-and-gray and back-and-yellow liveries. And the route also features freight rolling stock, including 70- and 100-ton coal hoppers, a variety of freight cars to tote tonnage in manifest freights, and a caboose.
With the new Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route, you can get right to work and experience all the drama of this classic American railroad with the seven career scenarios and two railfan scenarios included with the route.
The Clinchfield Railroad: Famous, fabulous, challenging -- and available for Train Simulator! The Clinchfield Railroad: Elkhorn City – St. Paul route is available now at the Steam and Dovetail Stores. – Gary Dolzall
Often called “The Rio Grande of the East” for its spectacular scenery and mountain railroading, the Clinchfield Railroad now is available for Train Simulator! In a classic scene on the new Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad: Elkhorn City - St. Paul route, CRR EMD F7s have southbound coal tonnage on the roll through the Appalachian Mountains. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
The new Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route re-creates the legendary railroad as it existed in its final independent years of the early 1980s and extends from the CRR’s northern terminus at Elkhorn City, Kentucky approximately 42 miles to St. Paul, Virginia. CRR SD40 3018 and two sisters are departing Elkhorn City with a manifest freight off the C&O (above). A short distance south of Elkhorn City stood one of the CRR’s most dramatic locations, Pool Point tunnel and trestle, where a duo of Clinchfield SD40s provide a memorable sight (below).
The Clinchfield was a bustling coal-hauler and the new Train Simulator route includes a variety of line-side coal mines, tipples, and loaders. At Splash Dam, Virginia, a trio of Clinchfield SD40s slice through coal-loading facilities on each side of the main line (above), then a short time later growl into Berta Junction (below), site of the connection between the CRR’s main line and Haysi (Greenbriar) Branch.
The 1.3-mile McClure (Virginia) Spur of the Clinchfield served a massive coal operation. A pair of CRR EMD GP7s are handling hoppers at McClure (above), while another pair of venerable Clinchfield Geeps are working the coal loader at Trammel, Virginia, located on the north side of towering Sandy Ridge (below).
The small town of Dante, Virginia was the central point of coal operations on the CRR’s north end. With coal gathered from mines to the north in tow, Clinchfield GP38 2007 and a sister are approaching Dante (above) and then swing past the Dante depot (below) on the now available Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad: Elkhorn City – St. Paul route.
Dante was home to a busy engine terminal and yard, where first and second generation Clinchfield EMD power slumbers in the night awaiting the next call (above). At the south end of Dante Yard, a pair of GP38s work a coal loader (below). The Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route includes four notable Clinchfield locomotive models – the EMD GP7, F7 (cab and booster), GP38, and SD40 – all in both CRR’s classic yellow-and-gray and late-era black-and-yellow liveries!
Black-clad Clinchfield EMD SD40 3012 is on the point of a southbound manifest passing through St. Paul, Virginia. Location of Boody Junction with the Norfolk & Western, St. Paul serves as the southern terminus of the new Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route.
At St. Paul, an A-B-A trio of Clinchfield EMD F7s stride over the Clinch River. The Clinchfield Railroad: Famous, fabulous, challenging -- and available for Train Simulator! The Clinchfield Railroad: Elkhorn City – St. Paul route is available now at the Steam and Dovetail Stores!
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TS20: The Clinchfield Cometh!