TS20: Fabulous and Famous!
Written by: Gary Dolzall.
Coming soon to Train Simulator is the Clinchfield Railroad, the spectacular coal-hauling “Rio Grande of the East!”
Fabulous and famous: The Clinchfield Railroad was one of America’s most extraordinary railroads. Often called “The Rio Grande of the East” for its spectacular scenery and challenging mountain railroading, the Clinchfield Railroad will soon be coming to Train Simulator!
Train Simulator’s Clinchfield Railroad route re-creates the northern portion of the CRR, where the railroad wove its way through the daunting and magnificent Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia and in the process served a variety of on-line coal mines.
Constructed almost entirely in the early twentieth century and not completed until 1915, the Clinchfield was 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 gray 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 Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route will re-create the legendary railroad as it existed in its final independent years of the early 1980s. The upcoming 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. 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 will 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 Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route, you will be able to 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.
Get ready to experience the famous and fabulous Clinchfield Railroad – coming soon to Train Simulator! – Gary Dolzall
The Clinchfield! Often called “The Rio Grande of the East” for its spectacular scenery and challenging mountain railroading, the Clinchfield Railroad will soon be coming to Train Simulator. In a scene typical of the Clinchfield’s magnificent passage through America’s Appalachian Mountains, a set of Clinchfield EMD F7s tote coal across the Russell Fork in western Virginia. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
The upcoming Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route will re-create the legendary railroad as it existed in its final independent years of the early 1980s and will extend from the CRR’s northern terminus at Elkhorn City, Kentucky approximately 42 miles to St. Paul, Virginia. In addition to being junction point with the Chesapeake & Ohio, Elkhorn City Yard was host to coal loading facilities. CRR SD40 3003 and two sisters are making their pull from Elkhorn City with a manifest freight off the C&O (above), while Clinchfield GP7 913 works one of the Elkhorn City loaders. Note: Screenshots depict content while still in development.
The Clinchfield was a coal-hauler extraordinaire, and the upcoming Train Simulator route will include a variety of line-side coal mines, tipples, and loaders. At Splash Dam, Virginia, Clinchfield F7 801 is leading coal tonnage south while a pair of EMD GP7s work nearby loading tracks (above). On the CRR’s noted Greenbriar Branch (Haysi Railroad), a duo of Clinchfield EMD GP38s are working the mine tracks at Greenbriar (below).
Opened in 1979, the 1.3-mile McClure (Virginia) Spur of the Clinchfield served a massive coal operation. Aged but able, a pair of CRR EMD GP7s are handling hoppers at McClure. The upcoming Train Simulator route will include 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.
Built to exceptionally high and modern engineering standards, the Clinchfield Railroad was home to more than 50 tunnels, the longest and most famous of which was 7,854-foot-long Sandy Ridge Tunnel. Nearing Dante, Virginia, CRR SD40 3021 has just emerged from the south portal of Sandy Ridge Tunnel.
A siren for train-watchers, the small town of Dante, Virginia was the central point of coal operations on the CRR’s north end. Dante (pronounced like “ant”) was home to the famed First Baptist Church (above) which literally had the Clinchfield main line on its front doorstep. And Dante was host to a busy engine terminal and yard, where first and second generation Clinchfield EMD powers awaits its next call (below).
Clinchfield EMD GP38 2003 is on the point of southbound hoppers passing through St. Paul, Virginia. Location of a junction with the Norfolk & Western, St. Paul serves as the southern terminus of the upcoming Train Simulator Clinchfield Railroad route.
At one of the Clinchfield’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring locations, CRR F7 806 has just emerged from Pool Point Tunnel and is riding high atop Pool Point trestle as it navigates the “Breaks of the Big Sandy.” Get ready to experience the famous and fabulous Clinchfield Railroad – which is coming soon to Train Simulator!
Screenshots and images displayed in this article may depict content that is still in development. The licensed brands may not have been approved by their respective owner and some artwork may still be pending approval.
TS20: Fabulous and Famous!