Kirby, PA 7/11/12 - At the Cumberland Mine in southwestern Pennsylvania, coal is flood-loaded into 38 hoppers with black gold destined for overseas ports and southern power plants. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to load the 38 cars. After loading, the coal travels 18 miles to the east on the Cumberland Mine Railroad to be unloaded at Alicia Harbor and transloaded to a barge to travel down the Monogahela and eventually the Mississippi River. Operating on an isolated railroad with no connection to the outside rail network, the train movements are simple--back and forth six times a day, 24 hours a day, between mine and port with the same set of 38 hoppers. They are loaded and unloaded by the one-man crew during the 3 1/2 hour turn job, and then returned to the mine to start the cycle over again. When the mine is in full production, the hopper cars rarely sit idle for any length of time, making this perhaps one of the most efficient uses of rail equipment in the country.