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Back to Nashville 6/19/2017

by Chris Guenzler

I woke up at 5:15 AM and was on the highway by 5:30 AM, driving south down US 27 all the way to Harriman, where I stopped at McDonald's for my usual breakfast. Afterwards, I headed south to Rockwood where I had to stop.

Southern caboose X347 on display in Rockwood. From here, I took US 70 to Crab Orchard where, at a grade crossing east of the Lhoist plant, I found Steve Barry and Mike Berghart.

Lhoist Group History

Our roots date back to the nineteenth century when in 1889 Hippolyte Dumont opened a factory in Belgium.

In just over a century, the firm has spread internationally: first to France in 1926 on the impetus of the founder's son-in-law, Leon Lhoist. He developed the company further by acquiring lime, limestone and dolimite plants in Belgium and France. During the last 35 years, the fourth generation of shareholders has pushed the business consistently further under the leadership of Baron Berghmans, the company current Chairman.

In the eighties, the Group crossed the Atlantic to the United States. The nineties offered significant expansion opportunities across Western and Eastern Europe, in Germany and Scandinavia. The new millennium again broadened our horizons across Southern Europe to Brazil and progressively to Asia.

Today, we are a world leading producer of lime, dolime and minerals. We continue to grow through acquisition and entry into new territories. With a focus on existing and emerging customer needs, we also invest in new facilities and the development of our portfolio of innovative products and solutions.

Over the past decades, the Group's production has multiplied by ten and our turnover by 40. Lhoist operates 100 facilities in more than 25 countries and has 6,400 employees of more than 40 nationalities.

Lhoist North America is a subsidiary of the Lhoist Group. Formed through a series of investments and acquisitions that span more than three decades, LNA has become the premier supplier of lime, limestone and other mineral products in the North American market place. LNA employs 1,500 people at over 50 facilities throughout the United States and Canada.

LNA acquires Franklin Industrial Minerals in 2006, a U.S. market leader in chemical-grade limestone and clay products.

The Chase

We waited and then saw a headlight coming down the tracks toward us, but not to us.

Lhoist B23-7 4023 was being used as the plant switcher this morning. It was busy making up a train.

Continuing to switch cars but not approaching us. He kept on doing this but he never reached us. Since the freight train had not yet appeared, I then drove down along the plant looking for any sign of it. On my way back, I pulled in by the truck washer and quickly set up for a picture.

Lhoist B23-7 4021 which is used as the other plant switcher, but right now at rest. I returned to Steve and Mike with my information.

He then came to life but we thought he might be being added to the freight train. But later he must have gone to get re-fuelled for his switching duties.

The first move of the freight which was not ready to leave yet.

Backing to get more cars.

The second time was not the charm as he pulled by us but did not leave.

Lhoist GP38-2 2171, formerly Union Pacific.

Lhoist GP38-2 3043.

Lhoist B23-7 3138, formerly Seaboard Coast Line, later CSX.

The third time he pulled way past us but then backed into the yard. Having taken enough pictures of this move, we just waited for him to depart. He had seventeen loads to be delivered to the NS at Emory Gap as he had trackage rights from Rockwood. Once he left we then started to chase in the two cars with me following Steve to our first location at Ashburn Drive grade crossing, where we waited for about fifteen minutes before he arrived.

The Lhoist Railroad train at Ashburn Drive grade crossing. From here I drove to Price Loop where I waited by myself for the train. Here I waved to each of the passing cars to let them know that I was not doing anything bad. About fifteen minues later I heard the train approaching.

The Lhoist train at Price Loop. From here I drove along Highway 70 to the Piney Creek bridge and beat the train there by only two minutes as I hobbled to the bridge.

The Lhoist train on the Piney Creek bridge. From here I led the way to the Willett Hollow Tunnel that is under Mount Roosevelt Gap and we waited for the train because there had a downed tree and the train crew had to use chainsaws to cut up the tree before they could proceed. Once they finished, the train could be heard coming our way.

The train exiting the Willett Hollow Tunnel under Mount Roosevelt Gap. Once the train had passed, I said my goodbyes to Steve Barry and Mark, who were going to continue to chase. I had to drive back to Nashville where I checked into the Days Inn Airport Hotel and started to convert the pictures for the first story of this trip. Elizabeth then called saying that she and Bob were at baggage claim so I closed the computer and drove to the airport to pick them up. We then drove out to Lebanon for our Music City Star train trip.