We first encountered this railroad on the Tapoco Quest 2, then again on the Appalachia Power House Quest. This is a stretch of the CSX (old L&N) Railroad from about Delano, TN, to Ducktown, TN, continuing on into Georgia.
UPDATE! When doing a little research in April 2003, I discovered a news release about CSX applying to abandon this railway in 2000. In November or so of 2002, the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association (check out their web site) purchased the railway, and hope to restore limited freight and scenic passenger service!
YET ANOTHER UPDATE! TVA footed the bill to restore part of this line to aid in maintenance of the Apalachia Power House (told you so!). And we take a ride from Gee Creek State Park to the Power House. More to follow...
We first encountered this section when going after Appalachia Dam. We don't remember crossing it on TN 68, but we should have when we crossed the Hiwassee River... it could have been the same bridge, since the tracks are right on the river. We then should have crossed them again in Farner, and we went alongside them aways on Appalachia Dam Road. On Topo we noticed a loop called (oddly enough) "The Loop", on a bend in the river downstream of the dam. We had heard of this before, where the tracks will loop back and cross themselves, to handle severe grades in mountainous areas. Unfortunately, the only access is the railroad itself. We are not in the habit of tresspasing, especially on railroad property, because those guys take it seriously. So now we are trying to figure out how to get permission to hike in, or, better yet, get a ride in, to take some pictures.
On the other hand, a brave friend who will remain anonymous ventured in from the dam side and took these pictures. Pretty impressive!
This section of track had to figure prominantly in the contstruction of the Appalachia Project. It branches off of what was an L&N mainline, now CSX, just north of Delano, TN. There were a lot of seemingly abandoned rail cars parked on sidings in the area, and the rails themselves are not polished by a lot of use. Still, the road bed looks like it is well maintained. The railway continues south before bearing east to run alongside the north shore of the Hiwassee River. Near the community of Reliance, TN, the rails cross TN 315, then cross the Hiwassee River to continue eastward, in a winding fashion, along the southern shore of the river. It then runs, literally, right by the Appalachia Power House. The penstocks go under the roadbed to the turbines. There was a turnout to a siding going into the power house, but it has been pulled up. There is also a siding going into the transformer yard on the other end of the power house... we did not walk down far enough to see if it was still usable (it was a bad trip).
At the power house, we saw this disgusting mess, wondering what in the world it was for. Later, we heard a very plausible explnation. Rail cars have solid axle/wheel assemblies: there is no differential or other means for the two wheels to turn at different rates when rounding a curve. So this mess actually "greases the skids" to reduce wear and hopefully some of the "screaming steel" that would otherwise result in an area of tight curves, like this one!
Once pass the power house, it continues up river, where it encounters The Loop soon after crossing TN 68. According to Topo, The Loop is almost two complete circles, starting at about 1250 feet in altitude, and exiting at 1360 feet, in a area that is less than 1500 feet across. That would be something to see! Topo then just shows it continuing along Appalachia Dam Road, but some of the paper maps we have indicate there might have been a turnout in the vicinity of the dam at one time. That would make sense... we notice a lot of abandoned sidings around dams that were obviously used during their construction. The railway turns towards the south, and continuing down TN 68 the road will cross it two more times before getting to Ducktown. We haven't seen enough of it beyond there to determine if it is used any more at that point, but from there to Delano it appears to be used infrequently. As we opined on the Appalachia Power House Quest page, we'll bet that TVA has some kind of agreement with CSX to keep the railroad there for access to the power house.
We got a few pictures of the railroad during the power house quest. We are putting together some plans to get the power house (the right way, this time!), the dam, and as much of the railroad as we can, on a future quest. Stay tuned!