By 1908 the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway was hauling coal from the Western U.S. to consumers in the East. The last piece of the line, the Clinchfield Loops, consisted of 18 tunnels along 13 miles of track adjacent to and below the present-day Orchard. Now owned by the CSX corporation, the line runs fifteen trains daily, each filled with Kentucky coal, and returns fifteen empty for refilling, their passing unnoticed
by Parkway travelers above.
The CCO coined the name Altapass (which means “high pass”), and spurred the growth of the surrounding community. At one time Altapass was the premier tourist destination on the Blue Ridge. Passenger train service brought visitors to the Altapass Inn for recreation, including golf, and for mountain exploration. Boasting “steam heat, electric light and all modern conveniences,” its altitude of 2830 feet made it an ideal getaway for outdoor adventurers who also valued comfort. Land speculators capitalized on the large number of visitors, selling acreage and home sites in great quantities. The railroad also brought factories, logging and apple orchards. However, after passenger service was discontinued and a highway was routed through nearby Gillespie Gap the station disappeared, as did most of the tourists.