N&W and Virginian in 1909--Rivals

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Fri Jul 24 17:38:41 EDT 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
December 8, 1909

Three Railroads Struggling for Entrance to Rich Undeveloped County
One Route That Might Appeal to Virginian Might Bring That Road to This City With Big Yards in South Bluefield

It was learned yesterday that the fight which is going on in Buchanan county between the rival companies is for the control of land. Quietly a number of men have been going over the country acquiring coal lands similar to the methods which were adopted in the Pocahontas field. The plan is for the various companies to hold as much land as possible and then to lease the land to operators who will work the various seams. At the present time about a dozen companies own land in the county. Some are local companies while others are made up of men from Richmond, New York, Boston and many other cities. When it comes down to the final work of leasing the land it will be found that the best part of it is owned by people who are at present interested financially in the development of the section in and about Russell and Wise counties. The Northern Coal and Coke Company also owns considerable land while the greater part of the balance is divided up into ten and twenty thousand acre plots. What interest the Steel Corporation has in the land is not known, but it is the policy of that company to always have its men on the ground where valuable iron and coal deposits are to be found. The Norfolk and Western and the Virginian and the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio are planning projected lines into that section, but which will get there first is the question. The Norfolk and Western has the advantage on account of being able to get into the territory through Toms Creek, Bradshaw, Boissevain or Knox Creek. It also has the better opportunity to get into Russell through the Dry Fork branch.
The Carolina Clinchfield and Ohio can get in through Dante, which would necessitate building a long tunnel, or through Dumps Creek, while the Virginian can get to the coal from Rock and along Laurel Creek or from Narrows or Ingleside as has been suggested. The Narrows route looks good as by the purchase of the New River, Holston and Western, a route is already laid out as far as Rocky Gap. From there a good grade can be had along Nye Cove, past Round mountain with its iron deposits, over to Gratton and into Tazewell Courthouse [Later the town of Tazewell.]. If this route is taken large timber tracts of chestnut, hemlock, tan bark, oak and other valuable timbers in addition to iron can be passed through while on the way to the coal in the southwest.
Such a road might strike Bluefield and with the bottom land to be found in South Bluefield sufficient room could be had for handling the product for eastward shipments. It would also be possible to locate a by-product plant in Bluefield and with iron close by there is no reason why Bluefield should not become a great commercial centre.
If there is any possibility of getting another railroad, the local chamber of commerce should appoint a committee to take the matter up and see what can be accomplished.
Gordon Hamilton
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