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Big South Fork Scenic Railroad 8/19/2007

by Chris Guenzler

My first picture of the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad taken off the highway bridge in Stearns.

Another view with the Norfolk Southern interchange in this picture.

Alco S-1 105 on the point of our train today.

Chris Parker and I then drove over to the parking area with me going inside to meet Becky who would be our host for today's train ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad. We picked up our tickets before we got better acquainted.

A ground picture of S-1 105 with the Stearns Water Tower in the background.

While we waited to board, another Norfolk Southern southbound freight passed through Stearns. The train consisted of Big Fork and Scenic S-1 105, Open Covered Air Cars 1003, 1001 and 1004 along with enclosed car 1005.

I took a seat in Coach 1003 in order to be closer to the sound of that Alco S-1 engine. I fell in love with the sounds of Alco engines on the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific when I was growing up. This trip would be a thrill and a chance to relive memories of a time I thought was lost. First a Safety Announcement was made then with the sound of the S-1 105 steam whistle the train departed Stearns at 2:35 PM.

We first curved underneath the highway bridge that I had taken the first pictures on.

You could see down the interchange track with the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

The train ran by the old Log Pond.

Next we ran by the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad Shops.

The train soon headed into the forest.

A left hand curve.

A right hand curve.

The S-1 105 took another curve.

Then it came to a piece of straight track.

Our train is about to enter the Tunnel.

A shape turn as we exited the tunnel.

Down below was Paunch Creek.

Our train next passed through a few rock cuts.

Paunch Creek below our train tracks.

We next reached the Barthell Coal Company recreated town site.

Here a steam locomotive on display.

Barthell Company Store Number 2.

Curve at Milepost 4.

Our train then entered the Big South Fork National Recreation Area.

You can still see Paunch Creek as we neared it.

The train was approaching the switchback.

You could see the track that will take us the Blue Heron. Once the switch was thrown, the engine started to push our train to Blue Heron our layover location this afternoon.

The train crossed Paunch Creek now headed towards Blue Heron.

Our train arrived into the old coal mining community of Blue Heron. The Park Ranger made his speech about the history of Blue Heron and what to see. Plus the return time was given so everyone would know when to be back on the train.

The large coal tripple that has a walkway across the valley above it was my goal while I was in Blue Heron. I started up a paved trail that lead me to several excellent exhibits.

Inside of Mine 30 is the coldest location on this very hot and humid day.

There is a mine fan blade.

I got up on the walkway above the coal tripple where you could look down into the coal tripple.

Looking down into the coal tripple.

The view of the Blue Heron Complex and our train below.

The Southern Railway Hoppers help make this display look more real.

The walkway gives a great view of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

There was a mine cart on the walkway on display.

More views of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

There was a nice family out on the walkway.

Back at ground level the coal tripple I looked at.

More views of the coal tripple.

Southern Railway cars are positioned to be loaded at the coal tripple.

There is a model of the Blue Heron Coal Tripple and yard as I walked over for my next pictures I heard thunder just before the sky let loose with a downpour of hard rain.

Big South Fork Scenic S-1 105.

The train at Blue Heron.

Becky and Chris before we all rode in the cab of the S-1 105 for the trip back to Stearns via the K&T mainline extension project.

To go to Part 2 Click Here