CRR Clinchfield Railroad

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Track PlansTrack Plan ThumbnailCRR Track Plans Photos

CRR SD40 at Erwin, TN, 1966 -Ron FlanaryCRR Photos Page

Family Lines C628 at Habersham, TN, Jun 1978 -Jay ThompsonFamily Lines Photo Page


CRR GP38 by Patrick TilleryCRR Models Page

Family Lines SD40-2 in HO by Patrick TilleryFamily Lines Model Page

History (by Bob Helm):

The Carolina Clinchfield and Ohio Railway (CC&O) was built as a 277 mile bridge route across two mountain ranges operating in five states: Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. George L. Carter, known as the “Father” of the modern day Clinchfield, organized the CC&O Railway in March 1908 from four existing short railroads, several charters, and failed efforts. His vision was to build a connection from the port of Charleston, SC through the Coal fields of Virginia and Kentucky to the markets of Cincinnati and the Ohio River. Carter commissioned M. J. Caples from the Norfolk and Western Railway to engineer a route for heavy coal hauling and merchandise traffic across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Caples result was a railroad designed to very high standards for the time. Actual maximum grades were kept at 1.5% against Southbound traffic through the Breaks of the Big Sandy River, 1.2% up the Blue Ridge climb Northbound, and less than a mile of 1.8% Northbound grade at Sandy Ridge. Maximum curves of 14 degrees were not exceeded, while most were 10 degrees or less in 20 degree country. Scientific American called it the costliest railroad to cross the Appalachian Blue Ridge mountains. The modern day CC&O has existed almost as built with few re-alignments to haul record tonnage and make record profits for almost ninety years.

CRR North End mapThe link with the C&O was made upon the completion of the building of the Elkhorn Extension from Dante, to Elkhorn City. Carter drove the ceremonial golden spike to link the line south of Dante with the C&O and to complete the railroad’s mainline on February 9th, 1915. This connection was vital in making the Clinchfield an important part of the National railway map. The CC&O, with its southern terminus at Spartanburg, SC, quickly became a serious bridge route for merchandise traffic from the Midwest to Southeastern markets.

CRR 803 at Appalachia, VA, 1965 -Ron Flanary

CRR 803 at Appalachia, VA, 1965 -Ron Flanary

While 1/3 of the revenue was generated hauling merchandise freight; the Clinchfield was known for hauling COAL! The North end of the railroad served dozens of on-line tipples and loaders in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. Clinchfield Coal Company’s huge Moss #1 Preparation Plant generated thousands of coal loads per year for the Clinchfield to ship to market. Utilizing three major branches, the Fremont Branch, Nora Spur, and Haysi Railroad, carload after carload of black diamonds were shipped from the mines to the Moss plant to be cleaned, processed, and reloaded into hoppers destined for Dante to be weighed and classified. A large percentage of the coal carried, however, came from other railroads including the C&O, the L&N, Interstate, and N&W. Besides supplying some large on-line customers, the Clinchfield moved this coal both North to Great Lake exports and South to feed several hungry power plants in the Carolinas.

The Clinchfield had several major traffic interchanges along its route. It interchanged with the C&O at Elkhorn City, KY; the N&W (and L&N from 1973-1986) at St Paul, VA and Kiser, VA; the Interstate (Southern after 1960)-transporting mostly L&N coal, at Miller Yard, VA; the Southern at Speers Ferry, VA, Frisco, Kingsport, and Johnson City, TN, Marion, NC, and Spartanburg, SC; the SAL (later SCL) at Bostic, NC, and the ACL (later SCL) at Spartanburg. In addition, several smaller roads like the Piedmont and Northern and Charleston & Western Carolina interchanged along the route.

CRR F5A 800 on Passenger Train -Jamie Robinson

CRR F5A 800 on Passenger Train -Jamie Robinson

In 1924, the ICC approved an agreement for the Atlantic Coast Line and Louisville and Nashville railroads to lease the CC&O for a period of 999 years. The operating company from this lease, called the Clinchfield Railroad Company, conducted a highly profitable business until December 31, 1982, when the CSX Corporation bought all shares of the CC&O and retired them. In 1974, Clinchfield, L&N, SCL, Georgia and West Point Railroads began marketing their collective transportation as the Family Lines System to compete with rival Southern Railway. Despite common paint schemes, common locomotive purchases, and pooling of motive power, the Clinchfield maintained itself as a separate entity until the merger into the Seaboard System in December 1982. Again in 1986, the Seaboard System was merged into the Chessie System to become CSX Transportation, which owns and operates the original Carolina Clinchfield and Ohio Railway today.

Diesel Roster:

Number Model Builder Date
200 FP7A EMD 2-52
250 F7B EMD 6-50
350-355 SW7 EMD 7-50
356-360 NW2 EMD 9-47
361 NW3 EMD 3-42
800-803 F5A EMD 12-48
804-823 F7A EMD 4-49 – 12-52
850, 851 F5B EMD 12-48
852-869 F7B EMD 3-49 – 4-55
900-916 GP7 EMD 12-50 – 12-52
917, 918 GP9 EMD 12-56
919 GP7 EMD 8-50
2000-2009 GP38 EMD 4-67
3000-3024 SD40 EMD 9-66 – 6-71
3600-3606 U36C GE 10-71*
3607-3624 SD45-2 EMD 11-72 – 2-74
3625-3631 SD45 EMD 10-71*
4600-4605 GP11 ICG 4-79 – 5-79**
4606-4613 GP16 SCL 2-80 – 7-81**
6000-6045 GP38-2 EMD 6-78 – 8-79
8034-8132 SD40-2 EMD 7-79 – 9-81

* 3600-3606 traded to SCL for 3625-3631 in August/September 1977
** 4600-4613 rebuilt from CRR and SCL GP7s

Additional Articles:

Related Products:


Clinchfield Railroad Train Photo: CRR Engine 92

Clinchfield Railroad Train Photo: CRR Engine 92
Current price:
Ends in:
28d 11h 35m
Seller: eBay

CRR Clinchfield Caboose 1028 Spartanburg, SC 1979 - Original slide

CRR Clinchfield Caboose 1028 Spartanburg, SC 1979 - Original slide
Current price:
Ends in:
0d 7h 53m
Seller: eBay

 For related information, see the Family Lines, Seaboard System and CSX pages

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