Thursday, December 14, 2006

Appalachian Railroads: Part 1 - The Interstate Railroad

The advent of steam locomotion and the discovery of coal in the Appalachian Mountains brought about some of the most significant transformations to the region since its European settlement. A multitude of short-line and regional railroads began appearing near the turn of the century and would prove instrumental in the development of the region's natural resource economy. All are today incorporated into either the Norfolk Southern Corporation or CSX Corporation.

This is the first part of a series that will highlight this important part of our history, the Appalachian Railroads.

The Interstate Railroad (1896-1985)

2-8-0 #2 at Glamorgan in 1941, from the C.K. Marsh, Jr. Collection


The Interstate Railroad ran in the coalfields of southwest Virginia. Founded in 1896 by the Virginia Coal and Iron Company, it extended from Miller Yard in northeastern Scott County north and west, generally following the valleys of the Guest River and Powell River to Appalachia and north to the main yard at Andover, with many branches to the north into coal camps in the northern and western parts Wise County.

The railroad hauled coal out of the mountains to interchanges with the Norfolk and Western Railway(Norton), the Louisville and Nashville Railroad(Norton, Dorchester Junction, and Appalachia), the Southern Railway(Appalachia), and the Clinchfield Railroad(Miller Yard). Much of the railroad's business came from delivering trains of coal to the transfer points, and also from charges for the use of its hopper fleet. The railroad was purchased by the Southern Railway in 1960, but still operated as its own entity.

Interstate #32 in Andover, Va., Dec 1961, from the M. Gilmore Collection


Communities the railroad traversed along its route included Carfax, Maytown, Riverview, Tacoma, Ramsey, Hawthorne, Norton, Glamorgan, Dorchester, Needmore, Dooley, Josephine, Blackwood, Kelly View, Kent Junction, Appalachia, and Andover(main yard); and the coal camps of Roaring Fork, Pardee, Dunbar, Stonega, Wentz, Roda, Derby, and Dixiana.



Much of the railroad's original route still exists from Tacoma and points west as part of Norfolk Southern's operation in the area. The eastern portion was removed to the junction at the Clinch River, a large segment today constituting a rails to trails area in the Guest River Gorge. This area features the Swede Tunnel and an original trestle that crosses the Guest.

The railroad's operations were merged along with those of the Southern Railway into the Norfolk Southern Railway on October 31, 1985.

Web Resources
Appalachian Railroad Modeling(I found this site to be especially interesting)

InterstateRailroad.net

Southwest Virginia Museum

Interstate Car 101

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