Far off the beaten path in Tennessee are the remains of an abandoned coal operation and railroad tracks with a hidden locomotive.
Fork Mountain is a former mining town located in the northeast of Tennessee which had a sizeable population in the 1950s and was completely gone by the 1980s. The area was home to numerous coal and lumber operations during this time which built railroads to export out of the mountains. The line dates back to 1889 and the last cars running ceased in 2008.
Not much is available online for this specific train other than it is an excursion train owned by the New River Scenic Railway. The company started to set up scenic sightseeing train tours through the mountains and along the New River but before it was given a chance to get going the 2008 Great Recession stopped it in its tracks quite literally. The engine and two passenger cars were left abandoned behind an abandoned coal mine and later on, the railway's office in town also had burned down. Earlier this year (Feb 2020) the railroad filed for abandonment leaving the 41-mile line in question and up to the state to decide its fate.
Getting There and Important Information
This is definitely an off-the-beaten-path location but once at the mine, the train is only a short walk along gravel roads and easy to find across the river. The drive-in will take the longest with it being about 20 minutes on RT 116 after turning off of Knoxville Highway (RT 62). Those 10 miles will be slow and windy going up into the mountains. Park at the abandoned coal mine and processing plant, the photo below is from the backside so once parked, you'll be walking under the gravel belt along the road and towards the river which the road goes over.
From there you should see the train or at least the tracks - there's even a helpful railroad crossing sign incase it was unclear.
It was pouring rain - like pouring pouring rain the morning I was here so I didn't get a chance to explore much around but I'd bet there are some cool sections of tracks, old mines, and train tunnels in the area. Also, plenty of road options to take a hike on and I've heard this area and the forest nearby is popular for ATV touring so could be something to look into. The coordinates below will take you directly to the train.
©Copyright 2020 Dan Oliver
Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map (embedgooglemap.net) and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.
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