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Norfolk Southern Corp. yesterday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the original dedication for its Pier 6 coal transloading facility in Norfolk, Va.The Class I held a ceremony at Lamberts Point, where the railroad has transferred export coal from rail cars to ships for the past 130 years.Pier 6 was completed in July 1963 and formally dedicated on Sept. 18 that year. Designed and built primarily to load ships bound for global steel mills with metallurgical coal mined in central Appalachia, Pier 6 remains the largest and fastest coal transloading facility in the Northern Hemisphere, and continues to dominate the U.S. export coal market, NS officials said in a press release."Pier 6 was an engineering marvel 50 years ago, and it still is today. No facility in the world provides the level and quality of service to the global metallurgical and thermal coal markets that Pier 6 does," said NS Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman. "We have every expectation that it will continue to fill that very large niche for decades to come."Also capable of handling thermal coal, the 1,850-foot-long Pier 6 can hold about 6,500 rail cars on 150 miles of track and transload 36 million tons annually. Most of the coal moving through Pier 6 originates in southwest Virginia, southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Pennsylvania.NS also announced yesterday that Pier 6 set a new metallurgical coal loading record at 166,840 net tons after filling a ship destined for China on Tuesday, besting the previous mark of 159,941 net tons set on Jan. 12 that also involved a ship heading for China. In addition, the loading broke the Port of Hampton Roads record of 163,765 net tons of coal set on Feb. 9, 1992."The fact that this new record comes at Pier 6's 50th birthday is a big exclamation point," said Mark Bower, NS' group vice president-export, metallurgical and industrial coal marketing. "It again demonstrates that NS and our production and sales partners are the experienced, safe, and reliable team for getting American coal to the world's utilities and coke plants."Over the past five years, NS has spent more than $43 million to maintain and upgrade track and facilities at Lamberts Point. Since 1883, more than 1.2 billion tons of coal have been loaded onto vessels at the facility, enough to fill a train stretching almost half way to the moon, NS officials said.