Freight traffic decreased in the 50's and 60's with coal representing 35% of the tonnage moved. The bankrupt Kentucky Central Railroad was acquired in 1967. 190 miles of their trackage was abandoned leaving 370 miles of track to18 mines plus several successful railroad dependent industries. When the energy crisis of late 70's hit, the company met the increased demand for coal, and the commodity accounted for over 60% of the railroads total tonnage. Because of a decrease in traffic in the 80's, the CB&W abandoned several spurs to coal mines and closed the classification yard at Widen, West Virginia. Harking back to it's early days, the railroad recognized the need to become less dependent on coal, so the railroad focused on increasing it's container capability during the late 80's and early 90's. It built four intermodal yards and completed the container port at Arsenal Virginia in 1994. Gandy Dancers adjusted clearances on the mainline and on January 18, 1996 the first double stack container train ran between St. Louis and Phoebus. In 1996, coal represented 38% of the annual tonnage and containers 32%.
The Chesapeake Bay and Western Railroad moves into a new millennium, positioned to capitalize on it's link between America's heartland and the Atlantic. The equipment is modern, the people are well trained, the operations are fully automated and the mainline has clearance for double stack container trains from St. Louis to Arsenal.
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