Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia & Kentucky  Dixon
Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia & Kentucky  Dixon
Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia & Kentucky  Dixon
Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia & Kentucky  Dixon

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia & Kentucky Dixon

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Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia & Kentucky Dixon
Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the Coal Fields of West Virginia and Kentucky by Thomas W Dixon Jr
Mines Towns Trains
Hard Cover  Reflections from the lights on some photos
108 pages
Copyright 2006

Introduction  iv
Background 1
Chapter 1 Coal Fields Motive Power 5
Chapter 2 Coal Fields Rolling Stock 19
Chapter 3 C&O Coal Operations  25
Chapter 4 Coal Towns 37
Chapter 5 Mines & Tipples  51
This is the second book on this subject by this author. It is intended to stand alone or to be used in conjunction with the first volume, published by The C&O Historical Society in 1995.
The first volume illustrated typical operations on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in the coal fields of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, by showing yards and terminals, trains, and tipples, with particular emphasis on railway operations.
Some similar material is contained in this volume, all of which is different from the first volume. In this book there are more photos and data on the actual mines and tipples, and on the coal camps, or company towns, that were also an important element in how the whole structure of coal mining and transportation was set up.
The era treated is from the end of World War II until the mid-195os. In this period coal operations on C&O reached a high point as America's postwar boom demanded ever larger quantities of the high quality metallurgical coal that was one of C&O's most lucrative products. Coal traffic for electric power plants continued and expanded over this time, as did the amount of coal being exported from C&O's huge Newport News, Virginia piers.
Also, a great amount of coal was being consumed at the beginning of this era for home and business heating. The conversion to oil, electricity, and natural gas began taking over from coal in these uses quite swiftly during this decade, and within a few years, this business was essentially gone. Another use for coal that disappeared during the period was as fuel for railroads, as most major railroads gave up on steam power and phased it out in favor of diesel-electric locomotives. By 1956 almost all steam was gone from Class I railroads. Only Norfolk & Western held out a little longer, and it was officially completely dieselized by late 1960. C&O ran its last steam locomotive in the fall of 1956.
This was the era when C&O's wonderfully effective public relations machine touted the line as "The Coal Bin Of America," and as the "World's largest originator of bituminous coal." It was both. In the pre-war year of 1939 C&O hauled 52,517,776 tons of coal, and in 1946, the first postwar year, this figure had risen to 72,530,152 tons. By 1956 the total was 84,452,510 tons.
The pattern of production and transportation was this: coal originated in southern West Virginia on C&O branches located in the New River, Winding Gulf, Coal River, and Logan coal fields, and in eastern Kentucky on the Big Sandy field. The loaded coal cars were assembled at several marshalling yards (see map on page 2 & 3) located within the coal fields and from there were dispatched to C&O's major yards, where it was classified and sent to destination.
C&O built and maintained a huge fleet of coal carrying cars, mostly of the 50- or-70-ton capacity hopper car. A few 100-ton-capacity cars were in service. Low sided gondolas also were used frequently, although this type of car was largely phased out for hauling coal by 1960.
C&O's major yard for classifying westbound coal was at Russell, Kentucky, where it built a sprawling facility beside the Ohio River, which became the largest railroad yard owned by a single line in the world. Eastbound coal made its way to Clifton Forge, Virginia, where it was classified and sent mainly to the ocean terminal at Newport News. Because coal had to be supplied to buyers in a particular mix of size and grade, it would be held in the cars at Newport News's huge yard, and ` as ships docked, the various types of coal were brought out of the yard and dumped into the ship. This was an inherently inefficient operation requiring that cars sit idle for long periods of time awaiting the arrival of a ship needing that particular blend of coal. This required a large number of cars since the average turn-around time for a car from the mine to the port and back was about 30 days.
The pattern of coal shipment that we see in the 1945-1956 era was basically unchanged from what it had been since the turn of the loth Century. With the various market forces at work that have been alluded to above, this pattern would break down in the 196os and 1970s, and an entirely new paradigm would emerge in the 198os going forward.
C&O was long recognized as one of the best run, most efficient, best maintained, and highest quality lines in the United Sates. At roughly 5,000 route mines in the era we are discussing, it was of medium size, but because of the great amounts of money that it had made over the years hauling the basic commodity of coal, it was financially very well positioned.
The book is organized first to show the C&O's equipment and facilities in the cold fields, including steam and diesel locomotives, hopper cars of various types, and the marshalling and classification yards and terminals used to transport the coal from mine to market.
The sections following illustrate the environment of the coal mines and railroad branch lines including the towns and coal camps that were typical of the era when the business was highly labor intensive and jobs were in the lower pay scale. The last section of the book shows typical coal mines and tipples in the West Virginia and Kentucky fields (by this time the Hocking Valley coal field of southeastern Ohio largely had played out and was of no great importance in C&O's overall coal haulage picture),
I hope that this book will provide an accurate sample of how coal was mined and transported in the exciting and turbulent era of the first post-WWII decade.
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