I remember hearing all the stories from my father about his coming home after WWII and going to work for Seaboard RR. He was not the engineer, but man he loved to travel on the trains.
I inherited quite a few things from Dad, including love of trains and traveling. So, here is a little part of history that seems to be fading from us, the Clinchfield Loops. The Clinchfield Loops are a marvel of railroad engineering, going up over the Blue Ridge mountains from ground level up to an altitude of over 5,000 feet and keeping the grade (how steep the grade) to a mere 2%. It takes approximately 25 minutes from when you first hear a train whistle/horn at the lowest level to Pepper Creek Crossing, which is about mid point for the climb from starting the Loops to Altapass, crossing under the Blue Ridge Parkway and starting a downhill descent into Alta Pass and on to Spruce Pine, NC.
Sadly, this line is almost defunct, useful for local traffic only, so a normal consist (make up of trains) will be one or two cars. Where I have seen 4 engines using all their combined strength to climb the loops with up to 25 coal cars behind them, lately its been only one engine and one car.