As Mr. Statkowski said, the improvement in the export market for coal is helping, but the Appalachian coal mines are also dependent on the railroads for survival. The mines were the sole industry for many counties, and as mines closed the railroad company would remove a section of track so it was not required to maintain it, then after a period apply for abandonment, then remove all the rail. In far eastern Kentucky where you give directions by up and down, Harlan County had eight mines at the beginning of this century. They closed down rapidly in the past few years, and the tracks were approved for abandonment and removed. In June of 2016 there were still 764 miners, and by mid-October the last mine had closed and the tracks approved for abandonment and removed. CSX won't be laying rail again, so those mines are history. Also the mines weren't all large. I was in MP dog school in January of '71 with a MP from Blackey, Kentucky. His family holler had a coal car spotted every week that they filled from their underground mine. Blackey is in Letcher County, which butts with Harlan along the Virginia border. Like Mr. Statkowski's Cherry Tree, Blackey is down in population to 153 in 2000, but was a coal mining boom-town starting in 1912 when the Lexington and Eastern RR ran tracks through the 1908 post office settlement. The boom turned to bust with the flash flood went through the town along the North Fork of the Kentucky River, followed by a December fire which destroyed half the town and a second fire in 1928 that destroyed the rest of it. The Blackey State Bank failed at the start of the depression, and mining declined but was still going on in 1979. CSX still runs a two track line through the town. In western Kentucky to the east of me surface and underground mines still exist with rail service and coal trucks to railhead tipples or manufacturing plants. Coal trucks have a higher weight limit on bridges and roads than all other commercial vehicles. But, the coal isn't just for export. Kentucky coal is used for fly ash concrete production. Fly ash is similar to the vocanic ash the Romans used which has very small pores, keeping out water, salts and alkilis, and making them last longer. California, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Texas use fly ash concrete in more than 75% of concrete construction, with California in virtually all concrete projects. California requires Class F fly ash concrete. General construction requires Class C fly ash. Kentucky is studying low cost compound additives to lower the air entrainment of Class F fly ash concrete so it will have smaller pores comparable with Class C fly ash concrete, even though it has smaller pores than Portland Cement concrete. Since California doesn't allow any coal combustion in state, it imports all Class F fly ash for concrete production. Currently from Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Canada, Japan, and India. You would think that strings of covered hoppers from more states and provinces in the US and Canada would be cheaper than overseas shipping, but bulk water-board shipments are cheaper by the mile both domestically and internationally. The Rockies and Sierras stop barge traffic to the west coast, which is good for the real and model railroaders. Imagine celebrating the driving of the gold lock?
Drifting back to the thread topic. The Port of Bridgeport is at the opening of the Pequonnock River and historically served passengers, dry bulk, ship building, and still serves general bulk cargo, petroleum, and towage. It was the starting point for the Housatonic RR, Naugatuck RR, and of course the New Haven RR. The lower yard valuation maps show the passenger and cargo companies of the Port and the railroad passenger station and frieghthouses. The pictures show the railroad's supplying of UI, and later the Port's abilitity to provide coal supplies for UI. The new Connecticut Port Authority is hoping to bring Bridgeport back on the global market scene with the dredging of the harbor to accomodate deepwater cargo vessels again. (Did I drift back far enough?)
Richard H. Sullivan, Jr. member #3967