"K&T 102 at Blue Heron Junction"
In a timeless scene, the Conductor lines the switch at Blue Heron Junction from the Blue Heron Coal Spur to the Kentucky & Tennessee Mainline for the trip back up the hill to Stearns as veteran Alco S2 number 102 and its train simmer patiently in the background on May 6, 2017.
K&T 102 is the last operational Alco on the roster, having been originally built in May of 1944 for the Denver & Rio Grande Western. The K&T purchased her and two other S2's from the D&RGW in 1963 when the railroad dieselized, with the S2's replacing K&T 12 (better known by her other identity, Southern 4501) and her steam kin hauling coal out of the mines. Two other S2's were added later, from the D&H and the PH&D, respectively, but the 102 is the lone operational survivor. She serves as the backup unit for the primary power, EMD SW9 106, a former Atlantic Coast Line unit.
The former PH&D S2, 105, serves as a parts donor to keep the 102 going after a major component failure sidelined her permanently in the late 2000's. The other S2's besides 102 and 105 were sold off after the last coal mine shut down in 1987, with the 102 and 105 being retained because they were in the best operational condition. The 105's retirement was also the reason for the acquisition of the EMD.
Special thanks to the folks at the K&T/Big South Fork Scenic Railway for allowing me access for this shot!