The Blue Ridge Parkway always serves up an extravagant experience even on a wet gray day in November. Passing thru sleet mixed snow at higher elevations I drift cautiously downhill and pause for a moment of meditation at the Roanoke River and N&W Railroad bridge. The Parkway is calm on a Tuesday in late November with opportunities to linger - without sensing time - to absorb a natural mood browned by early winter, frosted with silver light. Cool, cool.
My gaze follows the railroad as it bends out sight flowing easterly thru a narrow passage. Daydreaming... Presently I hear the rumble. In the late 1800's one of the richest high-quality bituminous coal reserves was discovered in southwest Virginia at Pocahontas. By then wooden ships were a thing of the past replaced by steel and powered with coal fired boilers. Mile upon endless mile of coal cars moved along these tracks for decades, rolling east across Virginia to the Hampton Roads terminal at Norfolk. Rumbling nonstop. Fueling the world's navies. The tiny village of Big Lick becomes a railroad town swelling with prosperity, destined to outgrow its back woodsy name.
Title: © N&W Railroad. r1102-28
Location: Blue Ridge Parkway
Mile 114.8 at Roanoke River
Roanoke County, Virginia
Date: Tuesday 23 November 1999