Technically, this track has belonged to Norfolk Southern for something like 15 years, but it was first built by the Louisville & Nashville in 1891, and operated until early 1986. A local coal company bought the dormant line (about 13 miles from Norton to Big Stone Gap) a few years later, but NS wound up as the owner as it contemplated using the route to supplement its own former Interstate main between Norton and Appalachia. Today, the likelihood of these 136-pound ribbon rails ever bearing the weight of a train again are slim and none. Mother Nature is quickly reclaiming the grade where "Big Emma" 2-8-4s once blasted smoke and cinders to the heavens pulling coal and general freight up the 1.25 percent grade into Norton. A wooden crossbuck still alerts drivers to watch for trains that will never run here again.