Coal pier
A coal pier is a transloading
For the data downloading process, see sideload.Transloading is the process of transferring a shipment from one mode of transportation to another. It is most commonly employed when one mode cannot be used for the entire trip, as for instance when goods must be shipped internationally from one inland...

 facility designed for the transfer of coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 between rail and ship.

The typical facility for loading ships consists of a holding area and a system of conveyors for transferring the coal to dockside and loading it into the ship's cargo holds. Originally the holding area consisted of a rail yard
Rail yard
A rail yard, or railroad yard, is a complex series of railroad tracks for storing, sorting, or loading/unloading, railroad cars and/or locomotives. Railroad yards have many tracks in parallel for keeping rolling stock stored off the mainline, so that they do not obstruct the flow of traffic....

 in which the loaded cars were sorted by grade and held until needed for loading. Modern facilities are more likely to unload the cars immediately (say with rotary car dumper
Rotary car dumper
A rotary car dumper or wagon tippler is a mechanism used for unloading certain railroad cars such as hopper cars, gondolas or lorries . It holds the rail car to a section of track and rotates the track and car together to dump out the contents. Used with gondola cars, it is making open hopper cars...

s) and store the coal in piles until the ship is loaded. This frees up the cars for immediate reuse and obviates rail yard maintenance.

Dedicated coal piers began to be constructed in the 1880s at port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

s on the Atlantic Coast
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and many of these survive (though highly modified) to the present. In Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, beginning in 1881, coal piers, operated by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was a Class I railroad formed in 1869 in Virginia from several smaller Virginia railroads begun in the 19th century. Led by industrialist Collis P...

 (C&O) on the Virginia Peninsula
Virginia Peninsula
The Virginia Peninsula is a peninsula in southeast Virginia, USA, bounded by the York River, James River, Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay.Hampton Roads is the common name for the metropolitan area that surrounds the body of water of the same name...

 at Newport News
Newport News, Virginia
Newport News is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia. It is at the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, on the north shore of the James River extending southeast from Skiffe's Creek along many miles of waterfront to the river's mouth at Newport News...

 and in South Hampton Roads
South Hampton Roads
South Hampton Roads is a region located in the extreme southeastern portion of Virginia in the United States, and is part of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA with a population about 1.7 million....

 by the Norfolk and Western (N&W) and Virginian Railway
Virginian Railway
The Virginian Railway was a Class I railroad located in Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The VGN was created to transport high quality "smokeless" bituminous coal from southern West Virginia to port at Hampton Roads....

 (VGN) at Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

, made the port of Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

 the largest shipping point of coal in the world by 1930. The Curtis Bay coal terminal in Baltimore, Maryland, built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which...

 (B&O) in the 1880s, was for a time the largest such facility in the world. C&O and B&O also had facilities on Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...


In modern times, CSX Transportation
CSX Transportation
CSX Transportation operates a Class I railroad in the United States known as the CSX Railroad. It is the main subsidiary of the CSX Corporation. The company is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and owns approximately 21,000 route miles...

 continues to serve coal piers at Newport News and Curtis Bay, and Norfolk Southern operates a large complex at Lambert's Point
Lambert's Point
Lamberts Point is a point of land on the south shore of the Elizabeth River near the downtown area of the independent city of Norfolk in the South Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia, United States...

in Norfolk.
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