N&W and VGN Territory in 1910--Proposed trolley and railroad lines

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Tue Oct 20 09:52:08 EDT 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
April 5, 1910

$2,500,000 to $5,000,000 Ready to Put Into Any Proposition That Will Pay
Forty Mile System Connecting All Coalfield Towns and Extending to This City and Princeton Might Prove Attractive
Grimsley & Company have received a letter from a large London, England, firm in which that concern asks for openings in this section which would net it a return on an investment of from $2,500,000 to $5,000,000 which they are willing to put into some railroad proposition. The concern claims to have a capital of one million dollars. R. C. Grimsley said yesterday that his firm will give a prize of $250 to any one who will map out a line which would interest the concern and which would be acceptable to them.
Such a proposition again revives the proposed trolley line which was spoken of in these columns over a year ago. It was proposed to build a line from Bluefield to Welch which would strike all the coal field towns and which should pay a large return on the original investment.
The proposed line would be in the neighborhood of forty miles and according to a prominent financier of this section it would take about two millions of dollars to construct it and put it in shape to carry passengers. Such a [trolley] road would be convenient to nearly every coal mine in the Pocahontas and Welch sections as well as to the works on the Tug Fork which embrace all of the United States Coal and Coke Company plants. The only part of the line which would be without immediate return would be the part between this city and Pocahontas. There is a stretch about twelve miles which might not pay on the start but the traffic which it would take to and from this city would more than pay, although the local traffic along the line between these points would be light.
After leaving Pocahontas the road would have towns of several hundred people every few miles and there is no reason why it should not be a big paying investment. In fact, all are agreed that such is the case and the investors of this section would largely subscribe to such a line, as it would be of great assistance to everyone along the route.
Such a road would go from the country seat of Mercer county to the county seat of McDowell county passing through the most populous sections of both counties. It would also pass through a part of Virginia and would tap Pocahontas, which is one of the best small towns in the southwestern part of Virginia. It would also connect with the towns located in the Crane Creek and Widemouth branches, bringing Bramwell and some of the mining towns into close connection with the mines of all the sections in the field.
Another proposition which the company might take up would be to build a steam railroad to Princeton where it would strike the Brush Creek, which it could follow to the Bluestone and along this river to New River and from there into Hinton.
Such a line would tap the Norfolk and Western, the Virginian and the Chesapeake and Ohio railroads. It would be a great connecting link and in addition to passing through some excellent timber land would also pass through a great natural salt field. A branch line could be built up Camp Creek which would tap the coalfields in the Great Flat Top Mountain. Such a road could develop by education of the shippers a great freight traffic as well as a very good passenger service. It would strike Bluefield, Princeton and Hinton, three division points on three great coal roads. Hinton as division point on the Chesapeake and Ohio has freight which it could send to Princeton and vice versa, as Princeton is the main point of the Virginian. Princeton is the seat of Mercer county, in which Bluefield is located, and there is all kinds of business waiting for development in which both of these towns are interested. Such a road would open Mercer county and join its two railroads. This county is bound to be the greatest county in the state as far as business, outside of coal mining, in concerned. It has large supplies of the best coal in the world, however, as well as salt, timber and iron. It also has some water power and is close to the New River which has as good water power as can be found in the state. If the trolley proposition should prove feasible it would be possible to locate a central power plant at some point on the New River or below Bluefield. Three or four sub-stations could be erected throughout the field at which electricity could be relayed from the main station so that the plant could be operated at a minimum cost. The company could also sell a great deal of electricity along its line, as all of the coal companies are large users.
The letter addressed to Grimsley & Company evidently shows that the London bankers have money to invest in this section and if they are looking for a railroad proposition and really have $5,000,000 to invest, Bluefielders should go after it tooth and toe nail. The company wants to finance the proposition if it is feasible and will, according to its letter consider a proposition which will stand investigation and which is strictly first-class. If the chamber of commerce has a committee which can find something first-class of this company to invest its $5,000,000 it is time to get busy. The correspondence in the matter can be found at the offices of Grimsley & Company.
[Although it is intriguing to imagine a trolley line serving the coalfield and a steam road Bluefield to Princeton to Hinton, it is likely that neither would have lasted very long.]

Gordon Hamilton
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