Norfolk Southern Piedmont Division - Upstate South Carolina

Blacksburg Yard is located in Blacksburg SC at MP 424 on Norfolk Southern's Charlotte - Spartanburg main line. The small yard can be viewed from either side just off Hwy 5 without entering railroad property. Trains magazine featured an article about the Blacksburg to Shelby line in its April, 1994 issue. Photo depicts two EMD GP38-2 units in the yard making up a train for the SB line in June '92.
Blacksburg yard was used as an interchange for traffic from the SB line, which originally ran from Marion, NC to Kingville, SC. In past times, two EMD 4-axle units would be based at the yard to service industries along the SB line. Weight restrictions of a trestle over Buffalo Creek on the line to Shelby dictated an old boxcar be placed between the units to spread locomotive weight.

Most of the roadbed from Marion, NC to Shelby, NC was ripped up after the abandonment frenzy of the 80's. Tracks were also ripped up beyond Kings Creek, through York (the SB line interchanged here with the Carolina & Northwestern, also abandoned) and toward Rock Hill, SC. 30+ years of abandonment have taken their toll and now it's difficult to find evidence of the roadbed in some places.

A section of the line from Shelby, NC to Kings Creek, SC was spared and used regularly until NS ceased operations in 2010. The line from Blacksburg to Kings Creek was operated by Carolina Coastal [CLNA] until mid 2013. CLNA used a GP30 to service Industrial Minerals until rail operations were terminated. The CLNA GP30 was parked around Blacksburg yard unused until it was removed in 2015.

The SB line is now silent and overgrown with weeds. In 2015, NS filed for abandonment of the line.
Highway crossings were paved over.

Although Blacksburg yard is seldom used now, 12+ freights and Amtrak 19/20 will pass through the once busy little yard on the NS Piedmont division mainline.

Photos on this page depict images of the former Southern Railway line through Cherokee County, SC and Cleveland County, NC.

Click on images to enlarge.

- Blacksburg -
The local's conductor swings down off a Southern Railway bay window caboose during switching operations. The tank cars and covered hoppers in the background were common traffic on the SB line.
If you look closely, a red Motorola MT500 handheld is in his belt holster. These radios were engraved with SOU RY CO on the front cover.
NS 119 stopped in the yard to exchange traffic for the SB line's local switcher jobs. On this cloudy March day in '95, GP59 4608 and BB 8851 (in tow) were in the consist. Mainline track is in the foreground.
NS 4608 in the yard switching cars to make up a train for the SB line. This view from 8/90 shows the yard was once busy with activity.
Buckingham Branch 8851 in NS 119's consist stopped at Blacksburg yard. This locomotive was originally L&N 404.
These log cars are unusual visitors at Blacksburg yard. There is no wood processing plant on the SB line. At one time, there was a pulpwood yard in Hickory Grove, SC served by the railroad. Rails to Smyrna, Hickory Grove, Sharon, and York, SC were pulled in the 80's.
NS 980 with 9329 pulling new CAT dozers north through Blacksburg yard.
NS 211 heads south through Blacksburg yard on this overcast March 2015 day with Central of Georgia 8101 leading two Union Pacific units. Camp cars are parked in the yard for crews working in the area.
Carolina Coastal GP30 23 in the yard at Blacksburg. This Feb 2011 photo shows unit had just arrived.
The GP30 was used to service Industrial Mineral's ore processing facility in Kings Creek, SC after NS abandoned the SB line in 2010. Industrial Minerals no longer uses the railroad. The entire SB line in this area has fell silent.
Carolina Coastal GP30 23 shown parked at Industrial Minerals ore processing facility in Kings Creek, SC. The SB line rails ended here on the industry's property when the new Hwy 5 project was completed. The trestle near the processing plant is the reason no more rail traffic will use the SB line to King's Creek. The CLNA GP30 was parked at various places around Blacksburg yard unused until taken away in June 2015.
GMTX 9023 parked on the house track in Blacksburg yard. The unit was set out of a mainline consist after experiencing problems. Ore cars for Industrial Minerals in Kings Creek, SC line a yard track.
NS 980 with 9540 pulls three transformer loads north through Blacksburg yard. Occasionally, a green Siemens wide-vision caboose brings up the rear on transformer loads.
NS119 at the intermediate signal in Blacksburg. 119 will head south down into the Broad River valley and continue on its way toward Spartanburg SC and points beyond. This signal was removed during upgrade in early 2013.
This view is from the east side of the roadbed looking south toward Broad River valley. New signal installation can be seen in left side of photo. Old signals were removed in early 2013. New style signal housing holds aspects for both directions.
NS119 with NS 6565 leading two units south between Blacksburg yard and Broad River at Moss Crossing. 119 will quickly make the run downgrade into the Broad River valley.

- Broad River -
Broad River, milepost 427.2 south of Blacksburg. View is south toward the viaduct in this Jan '89 photo. Although the viaduct is a huge concrete arch structure, only the white markers give any evidence of its existence.
A more recent view of Broad River signals. New trackside signals replaced bridge supporting northbound aspects.
NS 3274 leading a second SD40-2, two GP30's, and a GE unit lift a consist out of the Broad River valley in this photo from '89. The signal at Broad River north end can be seen at the bottom of the grade just to the left of the whistlepost.
NS119 at Broad River. Old signal shown in this photo has since been removed.
Northbound signals at Broad River before upgrade was completed. New trackside signals replaced signal bridge. The 427.0 defect detector can be seen in the distance on right side of tracks.
Broad River viaduct looking Northeast (railroad north). The original stone piers in the river are visible to the right. There are 12 concrete pillars on the north bank leading to original single track alignment.
Broad River viaduct looking West (railroad South). The viaduct has four additional arches to the right not displayed in this view. Stone piers from original trestle and alignment are visible to the left.
- Cherokee Creek -
NS 8643/8620 lead a manifest north of Cherokee Creek viaduct between Gaffney, SC and the Broad River. The train will cross Broad River viaduct and head up the valley through Blacksburg yard and on to Charlotte, NC.
Conrail 8303 in a consist crossing Cherokee Creek viaduct. This structure is a shorter version of the concrete arch viaduct spanning the Broad River, a few miles north of this location.

NS 9466 leads a Conrail unit north at milepost 429.3 under the intermediates at Cherokee Creek. New trackside signals replaced the bridge.
- Timken -
Timken intermediate signals at milepost 435. This view looks southwest toward Thicketty. Various companies have industrial leads in this area. New trackside signals were installed in March 2013.

- Thicketty -
Thicketty, south of Gaffney, SC at milepost 437.5. This view looks back toward Gaffney. This section of double track extends north to Broad River at MP427. New signals were installed in March 2013.

- Cherry Hill -
Intermediate signals at milepost 440. View looks toward Thicketty. Signals were changed in early 2013.

- Grover -
Home signal in Grover NC at milepost 418.69 looking south. This signal was a landmark in Grover for many years. It was removed in February 2013. Pole mounted signals and ATCS tower were installed. This line once had block signals before CTC arrived. The overturned concrete base in the lower left was for a block signal.
NS 3245 SD40-2 in Southern Railway livery sandwiched by units in NS paint. This consist was stopped at the Grover NC signal for a meet with northbound traffic at milepost 418.7. The "cigar band" scheme rapidly disappeared after this March '88 photo was taken. Those pesky telephone poles always seem to be in the background!

NS 6653 leads a freight south through the turnout at Grover in this August,'90 photo.

- Kemstrand -
This view looking north shows new signal installation at Kemstrand. Signal for southbound traffic has a single tricolor head. Northbound signal is tricolor over bicolor. Northbound signal is approach to the control point at Grover, NC. This location is north of Blacksburg yard at the 421.56 milepost. Old signals were replaced in early 2013. Kemstrand siding is rarely used since Blacksburg yard traffic has ceased.

The southbound local out of Spartanburg rolls slowly by after switching LNG cars at a siding north of Kemstrand. A stack train was held at Grover while the crew finished their work. The new northbound signal displaying default yellow over red at Kemstrand can be seen to the left of tank car in this May 2014 photo.

Southbound stack train with BNSF consist rolls past Kemstrand at restricted speed. This train had been held up due to the local's crew switching LNG cars and tying up the main at a facility north of Kemstrand. This train had to follow on the local's block to Broad River where double track begins and the local's consist could be passed. The local could have used the siding at Kemstrand, but the dispatcher chose not to instruct the crew to take siding.

- Archdale -
A light snow had fallen on the signal bridge at Archdale. These signals are intermediates for Grover and the crossover at Hudson. New "Darth Vader" style signals have been installed. The signal bridge and its aspects were a familiar sight in past times and could be viewed from a distance in either direction from the highway. The signal bridge stood here for over fifty years. It was removed and replaced by trackside signals.
NS 172 heads north at Archdale. New trackside signals replaced the bridge that once stood here. Darth Vader hoods and overgrowth block the view of signal aspects at Archdale. In past times the railroad right of way was well trimmed. Trains and signal locations could be viewed from Kings Mtn to Grover when driving on Hwys 29 and 216.

- Hudson -
New signals at Hudson replaced two signal bridges that once stood here. Southbound signals are on a new cantilever style bridge due to visibility limitations.
NS 9003 leads 213's consist south through the crossovers at Hudson, MP413.3.

- SB line -
This view from April, 2000 shows the siding in Earl NC, a few miles up the SB line from Blacksburg yard. Tank cars and covered hoppers were stored here at times. This siding has since been partially dismantled. Road crossings have been paved over. Railroad crossing signs in some locations were removed.
GP30 2637 and a GP38 spliced by the "spacer" boxcar at former Southern Railway station in Shelby, NC. Common practice was for crews to tie up here when working north of Blacksburg. A crossing at grade with CSX (SAL) was about a mile north. After NS ripped up tracks from Marion to Shelby, the local would use CSX tracks for servicing PPG. A short portion of the original main line still remains from Conshel to MP160 where the SB line terminates.
NS 5065 GP38-2 tied up in the industrial yard at PPG Industries, Shelby NC. This 2010 photo was taken before NS abandoned the SB line. Milepost 160 marker still stands at the end of the line. Pine trees have begun to grow in between the rails on the original SB mainline here. CSX and NS jointly serviced PPG Industries for years. CSX currently handles rail traffic at PPG.
NS sent track gangs up the SB line in 2010. Ties were replaced, track work was performed and the line was abandoned. This view is looking south on Bettis Road a few miles up the line from Blacksburg. Stacks of old ties that were bundled have slowly disappeared.

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