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Norfolk Southern -- The Appalachian Route

Bluefield - Birmingham

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We hear constantly about the Norfolk Southern CNO&TP and Pocahontas lines, and CSX's ex-Clinchfield up in the mountains of the east. These are famous, and justifiably so, but we seldom hear about Norfolk Southern's other mountainous lines in the southeast. One of the latter, well deserving of a railfan visit, is the Bluefield, Virginia to Birmingham, Alabama route thru eastern Appalachia. There is no "name" for this route, and it isn't famous, but it goes thru some magnificent countryside, hauls millions of tons of coal a year, and plenty of manifest freight between Bulls Gap, Tennessee, and Birmingham. Other than Knoxville, Chattanooga and Birmingham, the biggest town on the route has a population 37,000, so if you want a rural tour, you'll be well rewarded.

As of summer 2007, the tour has been completed between Bluefield and Cedar Bluff, Virginia; St. Paul, Virginia to Frisco, Tennessee; and from Frisco to the western edge of Knoxville. This represents a total of 218.3 miles detailed.

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WHAT YOU WILL FIND HERE: From a particular starting point, each segment of this coverage will allow you to follow the instructions given, drive to a railfan site, then to the next, etc. etc. Traffic levels and patterns will be given, and the photographic/ lighting considerations for each site will usually be mentioned. You'll be told about area attractions, such as tourist and historic sites, as well as hotels and restaurants which are trackside or otherwise worthy of note. In short, you'll be able to plan an entire family or railfan-only outing or even a vacation from this guide, as it is completed in the months to come.

WHAT YOU WILL NOT FIND HERE: This is a railfan guide, not a photo collection. There are already many excellent and enjoyable railroad photo sites available, and one more really wouldn't add much value to the general railfan. Besides, photos take up a lot of memory, and your humble Webmaster has to pay for memory.

You will not find fancy graphics, as this is a tour guide, not an exhibition of HTML or graphics expertise. You'll be able to load these pages quickly and print them without waiting a week for each page to print. Also, you'll conserve toner in the process.


Major contributors to this effort include:

NS_CSX_Appalachia "at" . This e-mail group's members have been fantastic in their willingness to correct, supplement, and improve on the quality of the tour information.

Tony Hill. Webmaster -- the guy who makes Frograil go. All text is Tony's, unless otherwise specifically stated. Any first person singular pronoun used in these tours refers to Tony, unless otherwise specifically stated.

Train Gif Artists. Train gifs add life and color to these pages, and take almost no time to load. I stick these gifs in whenever I get the urge -- there is no rhyme or reason, I just like them. You can see hundreds and hundreds of train gifs by clicking on the Train Gifs navigation button at the top of each Frograil page.

If you'd like to contribute to this effort, please contact me at, and let me know what you'd like to do. We'll work together: You supply the data/info, and I'll do the HTML stuff and upload it. You'll get a chance to review the fruits of your efforts before the general public sees the finished product, so you can let me have your corrections, additions and changes.


Mapwork: Much of the tour is not easy if you have no detailed map for back country roads. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.

Contact me at: