Railroad Archaeology 101: The former Louisville & Nashville Cumberland Valley Division main line from Big Stone Gap to Norton was rendered redundant after completion of a new bridge at the former location in 1986. The 1.8 mile stretch from Big Stone Gap to Appalachia was recently ripped up for later construction of a hiking trail and a water main connecting the two communities. Construction crews removed the rails and ties, and in the process unearthed some interesting artifacts. This is the right corner (not sure if it’s the A or B end) of a hopper that was destroyed in a derailment long ago. The circular casting is a poling pocket, which dates the car to the ‘40s or earlier. The other mangled parts are grab irons, a casting which supported the cut lever, a stirrup, and cross members for the structure under the car’s sloped ends. The photographer can’t recall a derailment here in his memory (which would go back more than 60 years), so it probably occurred during the steam era. The location is former CV milepost 277.9, just railroad "north" of bridge 44 at Roaring Branch. NOTE: Further research suggests this came from an Interstate Railroad hopper car, since the poling pocket matches the type used on most of their cars. These cars were generally being retired from interchange service by 1967-68.