Matewan Question

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sat Jul 30 11:43:36 EDT 2005

>From many years of going in and out of that area and loving every minute as you are walking in centuries of Appalachian history. I always "get into it" tracking the old right of way out of Matewan down river and see it blend right into the mine storage leads. Here is what I see each trip; the old main, the 9 foot security fence for Rawl Processing (this is the story of mountain labor relations), Lobata that I visited days after it was wiped out by a 15 foot flash flood of 12" rain in an hour, Rawl Processing's operation and entrances (that I once drove a car pass loaded with Senior executives with the largest transportation company in the US without forewarning them of the sandbagged guard post on each side of Route 49 with Massey Coal and UMW facing each other down and we were in the middle - for a few seconds - . They really had their thoughts about who the H... I was and what I was doing to them until I reminded that there bread came for our drivers who worked this area daily on THEIR behalf. One is entitled to get one's licks in occasionally, right.), a mine portal that you could see from the road, the remains of a power generating plant that worked into the 1960/70 era, the west portals of the twin tunnels (with layouts that say they were built at different times with two thoughts on alignment and the crown view across a lonely golf course in the middle of where you do not expect a golf course. The tunnels open onto bridges into WV and cut straight into the golf course.

The rest of the trip is WV hwy. at their best, twisting and kissing your behind into Williamson except I grin all the way as remembering Gov. Rockerfeller came up RT 49 to visit the flood area and the then new Rawl Processing plant and his limousine could only crawl for miles at a time because the state why was so destroyed by coal truck traffic to Rawl Processing that the car would drag bottom. You guessed it, the road received a major redo starting within days. And it was not done because the "trucks has destroyed it", but you have to have a road system built to support what it takes to get the coal out. With only one major curve taken out WV 49 is the same road as in the 1930" with thicker pavement.

Several years ago Massy built a new road on the KY side and installed a modern bridge that comes across near the golf course area which is all but at the Rawl site. This is a completely private road that uses electronic sensors installed on vehicles to access it. Otherwise the trip to Williamson from Matewan would be cut in half.

As an aside, did anyone try the trip down the river from Gilbert (left off the foot of Horsepen Mountain on US 52) following the R/W that takes you pass the tunnel. This is the essence of being deep in the Appalachia with its absolute beauty and the awesome double track mainline operations.

Enough for this Saturday morning.

Oakie G Ford

----- Original Message -----
From: nw-mailing-list at
To: NW Mailing List
Sent: Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:14 AM
Subject: RE: Matewan Question


I'll take a shot at this. On the way home from said convention, I was tagging along with Gordon Hamilton and Ron Davis. There was a place that looked like this where the tunnel was put through later. The oxbow was the original. The location we looked at still had the 'oxbow' track (the original main) in as a spur to a mine. We saw so many places and I was enthralled by all of it. It's kinda running all together!

Charlie Long


-----Original Message-----
From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at]On Behalf Of nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 8:40 AM
To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Matewan Question

A question left over from the Williamson Convention: I was given both answers at the time and trying to get to the 'right' one. Did the original N & W main line west of Matewan go around the oxbow by way of Lobata, or was the tunnel across the neck of the oxbow part of the original construction ? From the USGS map, there is only a one mile gap from the end of the present mine spur to the east portals of the tunnel.

Jerome Crosson


NW-Mailing-List at
To change your subscription go to
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list