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Trainscapes: Tennessee’s Mining Railroad: Lhoist North America

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From Delay In Block Productions.  Lhoist North America is a Belgium-based mining company that owns and operates the former Franklin Industrial Minerals limestone mine at Crab Orchard, TN. In the early 2000s, Norfolk Southern considered abandoning Franklin’s only connection to the North American rail network – a 16-mile branch line with multiple high wooden trestles that were costly to maintain.

As the only customer along the line, Franklin feared losing its vital connection and as a result, purchased the former Tennessee Central mainline from Crab Orchard to Rockwood, Tennessee. As part of the purchase, Franklin would acquire three General Electric High Hood B23-7 locomotives from Norfolk Southern. In 2006, Franklin Industries was sold to the Chemical Lime Company, a subsidiary of Lhoist North America. Since taking over, Lhoist continues to operate the railroad with Franklin’s classic roster of GE products.

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