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The Searchlight Executioner at work on the CNO&TP in Kentucky

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  • The Searchlight Executioner at work on the CNO&TP in Kentucky

    2014 has been a roller-coaster year on the CNO&TP in Kentucky and Tennessee. On the positive side, we saw Southern Steam back on the mainline here in the Bluegrass state again for the first time since 1994, not to mention a lot of OCS and Heritage action. All of that excitement has been great, but then on the other hand we have been watching the last of the GRS Model SC searchlight signals fall, which has been a slow, painful process to watch....and has overshadowed the good stuff.....for me..

    So far this year, we have watched as the torch claimed those iconic signals at Revilo, Stearns, Whitley City, Woods, Southern States, Cumberland Chair, Norwood, Science Hill, Gradison....a steady and sorrowful progression to the North. The signals between Waynesburg and Danville had been holding on to life, but in the past month (and weeks) The signals at Waynesburg, Kings Mountain, and EVERYTHING between South Danville and SJ tower have been cut down and cast side....60 plus years of reliable service brought to a quick and undignified end and scrapped.

    For myself, and a few other who have grew up with the SC Signals, it has been hard to watch. We have made to many trips to get those "last" shots of these locations in the last few months, and will be making even more of those sad trips in the next few weeks as the reaper marches North. The look and feel of the CNO&TP is being changed forever. You may say that it is not logical to develop an attachment to inanimate objects, but those objects were unique, reliable and had character. They screamed SOUTHERN like nothing else could, and when they are all gone, so will be the railroad I grew up with. It is hard enough to go out and take what I know are the very last pictures of them when we find out what locations are next on the list.....I have yet to bring myself to go and watch them fall.

    This Saturday, a few of us will be making the trek down into TN again to get those last shots of the signals at Pemberton, Phillips and a few other places, because they will be gone come Monday. NEVER take for granted what is here today (or has been there for 60 years) because progress will catch up...progress will change things...progress sucks.

    Below are a few examples of those sad and depressing LAST shots, along with a few other assorted things. I have been concentrating so much on being trackside shooting this stuff the past 6 months that I have not made much effort at processing. I have been trying to wade through almost 1500 frames and have added almost 70 new images to my 2nd District of the CNO&TP (with much more to come)... Be sure to follow this link and take a loot at them all if you have a chance >>>> 2nd District of the CNO&TP 2014 Photo Gallery by E.M. & Carmon Bell at

    02/22/14 "That Deer in the Ditchlight look" NS 264 encounters a pair of young deer in the cut at Jones Knob, Ky Luckily for the deer, the train was creeping along at 25mph in the double track project area.

    05/11/14 Northbound 174 comes under the signal bridge at Pemberton, Tn early on a Sunday morning. Later that day, a signal curfew would go into effect North of here to make time for more searchlights to be removed from service.

    05/14/14 NS I7V (EYE 7 V) heads North near Elihu, KY with 15 former NS GP38-2's in tow. All of those units were being returned to the leasing company...behind a ratty looking CSX GE.

    Now lets Fast-forward a month or so to June 14th. Carmon & myself joined a couple of other friends to pay our last respect to the signals at Kings Mountain, Palm and Southfork...they would all be gone in 48 hours. We also spent some time in Junction City with the early morning light....get those shots now, as you may not have another chance!

    An early morning Northbound under the signal bridge at Junction City, KY. The new invaders can be seen looming in the background.

    "Putting on the Ritz" Searchlights and Top Hats at Junction could be a world premiere.....but if it was, it would sadly be the coming out party for that mass of shiny new aluminum looming behind the old signals...looming like a ghoul if you ask me.

    NS 2772 leads a Southbound out onto single track at Bowen, Ky last Saturday afternoon. . Just another shot from a place I have probably spent way to much time, but with the searchlights falling all around, One more shot couldn't be a bad thing. Note that bottom aspect on the Northbound signal..see that gasket shadowed in there?? That has been like that for as long as I can recall...if these signals end up being preserved, how cool would it be to keep that little detail??

    "Last Time" This will probably be my final shot of a train under the GRS model SC searchlight signals at Geneva, KY....taken late this morning as 74J rolls a120 loads of coal South. Less than 24 hours from now (if things go to plan) these will be just a memory. Geneva is One of the places that we almost never shot at because of access issues....until train 215 tripped up on a sun kink here a couple of years ago and dumped a few dozen cars out into the field in the foreground , taking out all the tree's that blocked the view.

    "A last goodbye" NS 40D (with the 3rd widecab D9 NS bought on the point) snakes through the junction switch and heels into the curve at Palm, KY at track speed early Saturday afternoon. I have shot this curve and the signals here just about every way a person could over the years, but unless something drastic changes in the next few days, this was probably the last train I will ever see under that iconic signal bridge.
    E.M. Bell, KD4JSL
    Salvisa, KY