Virginian in 1909--First coal train

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Fri Feb 20 14:57:43 EST 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 31, 1909

H. H. Rogers Invites Distinguished Men to Official Opening of His New Railroad

The official opening of the Virginian Railway, of which H. H. Rogers is president and practically sole owner, will take place on April 3, when the first trainload of coal to be brought from the beginning point of the road, at Deepwater, W. Va., will arrive at the terminal, at Sewalls Point, near Norfolk, Va.
The arrival of this cargo of coal will be witnessed by Mr. Rogers, who will then officially declare the road open for traffic. With him will be a party of his friends and officials of the road, made up of the following: H. H. Rogers, Jr., Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Franklin Q. Brown, George H. Church, Urban H. Broughton, G. H. Hyams, James M. Beck, Ralph Ashcroft, Melville E. Slone, Raymond Du Puy, William R. Coe, and William E. Benjamin. This party will leave New York on April 1 on one of the boats of the Old Dominion Line for Norfolk, arriving there April 2. The next day they will go to Sewalls Point to witness the opening of the road, and in the evening will attend a dinner at the Hotel Monticello given in their honor by the citizens of Norfolk.
Among the guests, in addition to Mr. Rogers and his party, will be Gov. Swanson of Virginia, United States Senators John W. Daniel and Thomas S. Martin, and the members of congress from Virginia and the presidents of all the transportation lines entering Norfolk. Speeches will be made by "Mark Twain," Governor Swanson, James M. Beck, Melville E Stone, and others.
The following day the party will begin a trip of inspection over the road, stopping at convenient points on the way to spend the night. One of these stopping places is Roanoke, Va., where there will be another dinner. It is expected that they will return to New York about April 7.
The Virginian Railway was organized in April, 1907, as a consolidation of the Deepwater Railway and the Tidewater Railway, which had been under construction for several years from Deepwater, W. Va., on the Kanawha river, to Sewalls Point, Va. The road, which has but recently been completed, is 443 miles in length and traverses a rich bituminous coal territory in West Virginia, from which its chief traffic is expected to be derived. The road has been constructed with such low grades and such heavy bridges that trains hauling 4,000 tons of coal can be run over it with entire safety. Its officials say.
The cost of the road has been approximately $40,000,000, about half of which has been put up by Mr. Rogers personally. The first public financing done by the road was in February, 1907, when it was more than half completed.
The Tidewater Railway then sold $10,000,000 6 percent notes. There was no further appeal to the public for funds until May, 1908, when the company offered for sale $17,000,000 five-year notes. The proceeds from the sale of these notes was devoted to retiring the former $10,000,000 note issue and to completion of the construction of the line. The only public financing the road has done since then has been the sale of $3,750,000 5 per cent equipment trust notes in the latter part of 1908.
The company has spent $2,000,000 in the construction of a steel superstructure "fendered" pier at its terminal at Sewalls Point. The pier is 1,000 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 65 feet high, and will be able to accommodate colliers with a carrying capacity of 10,000 tons each, of which the company will have a fleet of ten or twelve. The company recently placed an order for 1,500 all-steel 50-ton coal cars to cost about $1,500,000.
The authorized capital stock of the Virginian Railway is $36,000,000, and the authorized funded debt $33,500,000 first mortgage 5 per cent 50-year gold bonds. All these bonds are pledged under the $17,000,000 note issue. Most of the stock is held by Mr. Rogers.
[There was only a small incidence of blurring in the microfilm of this article, but there could be errors, particularly in numbers and proper names. Please post any corrections. Finally, is there any evidence that the Virginian ever had a fleet of ten or twelve 10,000-ton colliers as mentioned in the article?]

Gordon Hamilton
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