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Beech Mountain Railroad shuts down

Star Bridge facilities vacated; equipment now at Alexander for possible interchange

One of the trucks from scrapped Beech Mountain S1 No. 9452 sites at the railroad’s Alexander, W.Va., yard; S2 No. 113 and one of the railroad’s two remaining freight cars are in the background. Alan Byer

ALEXANDER, W.Va — West Virginia’s Beech Mountain Railroad appears to have reached its final chapter.

Owner Carter-Roag, a subsidiary of United Coal, has returned its two leased SW1500s to LTEX (also known as Larry’s Truck & Electric); those engines had been brought in to move the stockpile of coal remaining after the closure of Carter-Roag’s Morgan Camp mine [see “Beech Mountain, likely nearing end of operations …,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 7, 2023]. The railroad’s three remaining locomotives and rolling stock (a flatcar and a coal hopper) have been to Alexander, apparently for interchange with Appalachian & Ohio Railroad, leaving the Star Bridge, W.Va., yard and enginehouse empty. Machinery from the idled Star Bridge coal preparation plant, which had been moving by rail for interchange with the Appalachian & Ohio, is now being transported by tractor-trailer rigs.

The sense of finality has only been increased by the removal of the diesel fuel tank from its containment area next to the Alexander engine shed, suggesting Carter-Roag has no plans to operate trains of any kind. Still in that engine shed is Alco S4 No. 112, known as “Bear’s Blue Ox,” for former Beech Mountain Superintendent Chelsey Koerner, who died last week; his nickname was Bear. Trucks from scrapped Alco S1 No. 9452 have been rebuilt and upgraded with roller bearings; these may be used to replace the friction-bearing trucks on No. 112, which would then be shipped out for conversion to roller bearings for use on S2 No. 113, also in Alexander along with SW7 No. 114. The hopper and flatcar have also been upgraded with roller-bearing trucks, necessary for movement on the national rail network.

While the locomotives and rolling stock remain on hand and the rails are still in place, Carter-Roag has worked quickly to shut down the railroad and prepare the remaining equipment for sale. Only time will tell what happens to the last vestiges of the 10-mile coal hauler.

Read More: Beech Mountain Railroad shuts down

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