The last bit of daylight hangs in the air as a steady rain falls in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia. This 170 car empty hopper train is about to have quite the fight against gravity as they navigate the grades on the now idled Big Creek Branch. The control point at Jewell is just a quarter mile behind me, and then its into the Jewell Ridge tunnel and eventually, to the yard at Anchor. The hoppers seen at left are stored due to the downturn of coal traffic. Many of these remote branches feature lines of stored hoppers, hoping one day to see an upswing in traffic, and eventual return to service.