North Fork Hollow Mine Run

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Nov 14 18:33:46 EST 2017


Regarding your mines of interest, my info only goes back to post-WWII. 
By then, the working tipples I heard about were at Algoma, Gilliam, 
Rolfe, Ashland and Crumpler.

The North Fork Hollow mine run was a daylight job out of Eckman Yard. 
Dispatched facing upgrade, the regular power was the 2023 with Cicero 
Sells as engineer, the senior man at Eckman.

An Elkhorn job out of Bluefield would set off empties the night before 
on the storage tracks Elk Ridge (60 cars) and North Fork (55 cars) 
adjacent to the branch line near North Fork Junction. The mine run could 
bring more empties from Eckman Yard or Byrd Yard in Northfork, as needed.

The job was broken up into three round trips from the junction up the 
branch: first to Algoma up the Buzzards Creek Branch, then to Gilliam 
and Rolfe, then to Ashland and Crumpler.

Algoma was at the end of the spur with no tail track to pull past, so 
empties were pulled off the junction-end of the storage tracks while 
backing out onto the main line, then shoved forward up the branch main 
track, then up the spur. Loads came back to Byrd Yard.

Gilliam and Rolfe were delivered by trailing point moves from the main 
track, so empties were pulled up the branch on this trip. The engine 
backed down with loads trailing to Elk Ridge and swapped the loads for 
the remaining empties.

Like Algoma, Ashland and Crumpler were stub-end, but the empties were 
pulled up the branch to Jones Siding, run around there, then shoved 
ahead. Ashland was delivered first, leaving the loads for pick up on the 
way back down from Crumpler.

Crumpler, aka Zenith, was steep with five, ten-car delivery tracks that 
made it particularly tedious and dangerous. With no radios to stop him, 
the rear brakeman rode the drawhead and jerked the angle cock open to 
stop. The middle brakeman made the cut while the rear brakeman set 
brakes, watching for the next cut to get on and stop them. Tipplemen, 
called "droppers", would help set brakes. Every load had brakes on and 
if they were set out on the main track, every brake had to be put back on.

Loads were usually blocked at the tipples and both east and west loads 
were set out on Elk Ridge and North Fork storage tracks, the main track, 
or in the yard upon returning to Eckman.

The North Fork mine run became First Vivian out of Bluefield when Eckman 
closed in 1951. "V1" would leave Bluefield with a 2000 in reverse, a cab 
on the pilot, and usually ran light. Empties were waiting on the Elk 
Ridge and North Fork storage tracks and Byrd Yard as before, but west 
loads were set off in Eckman Yard and it returned with east loads. If it 
was running close on time (16 hours) or Bluefield was (usually) unable 
to take short trains, the east loads were set off at Flat Top Yard and 
it ran light on to Bluefield.

Sometimes the daylight job put empties in at Algoma, but the loads would 
store there until the night job could pull them. Occasionally, North 
Fork/V1 would deliver Dan's Branch, but time-slipped.

Non-coal work included an occasional boxcar to the company store at 
Algoma. 84 would set off refrigerator cars of meat on the North Fork 
Middle Track about 1am every Monday morning for the North Fork Passenger 
Run to spot at the Wilson, Armour and Swift packing plants. After the 
passenger run was cut off, V1 would get called early at 4am (usually 
8am) to spot the cars.

Please, as always, edits and questions are welcome.

Grant Carpenter

On 10/28/2017 2:55 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>> Grant,
>> Once again, terrific operational information for Maitland/Superior.  
>> Would you have the same type knowledge for any of the mines "up North 
>> Fork hollow"?  In particular I am most interested in Crumpler, 
>> Greenbriar, McDowell and Indian Ridge.
>> Thanks,
>> Jim Cochran

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