Paint Bank and the Potts Valley line-thanks!

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Nov 23 14:51:57 EST 2009

Many thanks to those responding to my Potts Valley inquiry. It is indeed a neat, although short lived, branch. With the help of satellite and aerial views, Google and USGS maps online,and of course you historians, it has been interesting and fun to explore decades after being abandoned.
I found out about the Waiteville station merely minutes after sending out the inquiry. (about the time that I remembered the ARROW article!) Fortunately, Google maps has ground level observation of both Paint Bank and Waiteville stations. I'm looking forward to exploring as much of this area as possible.
Charlie Long

-----Original Message-----

>From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>

>Sent: Nov 21, 2009 11:01 PM

>To: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>

>Subject: Re: Paint Bank and the Potts Valley line


>On Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 10:23 AM, Gordon wrote:

>> Somewhere I have seen information that the roadbed grading was extended a

>> mile or more east out of Paint Bank down Potts Creek.  I had always

>> visualized it as being a somewhat straight line extention east out of Paint

>> Bank, and the DOQ terrain map to which Roger gave a link (no pun intended)

>> appears to show residual evidence of such an straight extention if you click

>> and drag the map, although it could be just the tail track for the wye. But,

>> the DOQ terrain map also appears to show an extention of the south leg of

>> the wye curving to the East.  Indeed, if you click on "Topo" on the DOQ map

>> you will see "Old RR Grade" does follow the same path.  By clicking and

>> dragging on the topo map, you can follow the "Old RR Grade" to its apparent

>> end.


>Back some time ago, when the N&W Archives were still in the VT Library, I

>did some pretty deep digging in the files. I dug out the notes I took from the

>correspondence files on the Big Stony Railway. What I have end before there

>is a resolution, but there are indications that the line extended beyond Paint

>Bank -- although perhaps as a mine branch and not as part of the Potts Valley



>There are a number of memos and letters in my notes, between company

>officers and the the civil engineers:


>April 12, 1909


>Report -- Schick [the engineer in charge of the project] to Churchill

>[company engineer]


>Progress as of April 1st


>"The Vaughan Construction Co. have very little work to do, they will

>also finish in April. The Passing Siding and "Y" Track at Paint Bank

>are completed. So also are the Passing Siding and Station Siding at



>"I was with Mr. McHarg, Mr. Shuff and Mr. Vaughan of the Virginia Iron

>Coal and Coke Co. on this trip. Their Company is now working a scraper

>gang, building a dam for their settling basin at Paint Bank, and have

>also a force on their sidings to the Tipple and Washer.


>I understand they intend going right ahead with all their outside

>work. I was also told preparations were being made to open up at

>Sizers, getting everything ready for a large shipment of ore. This of

>course will mean extension of the present line from Paint Bank to



>May 3, 1909

>Memo from Maher to Johnson

>Report from Churchill to Maher, April 19, abut Va. I C & C Co.

>operation at Sizers, known as "Givens Bank" 5 miles below Paint Bank


>Estimated cost to extend line from Paint Bank is $111,000.

>Lowmore Operation on C&O at Jordan has extensive operation to remove

>silica from ore

>May 8, 1909

>Memo - Schick to Churchill

>"At Paint Bank, the Virginia Iron Coal & Coke Co. have a force

>completing their settling basin; also a force grading team tracks from

>Washer Site to Mine. Timber is all out for washer, and I am told they

>will proceed this week to erect the same. I should say that it will be

>sixty (60) days before these people can be ready with their settling

>basis, tram tracks and washer; it will be necessary for them from now

>on to get busy, and work a large force so they can take advantage of

>the facilities we will offer when our track reaches their operations.


>I now understand these people are talking about putting a steam shovel

>at Paint Bank. At the Given Bank at Sizers the Virginia Iron Coal &

>Coke Co. have a small force driving a tunnel."


>July 7, 1909

>>From Big Stony Railway Co. Office of the President

>Letter from Johnson to Maher

>"Have the Potts Valley Line surveyed from Paint Bank to Givens

>Opening, about six miles, and prepare an estimate at once as to the

>cost of building this line. The Virginia Iron, Coal and Coke Company

>owns the right of way and will arrange with us for the same."


>July 15, 1909

>Letter from Maher to Johnson

>"Referring further to your letter of July 7th.

>I find on taking up with the Chief Engineer the matter of the survey

>from Paint Bank to Givens Opening (this latter point we have

>heretofore named Sizers) that this line has already been located and

>adopted down to Sizers, and the right of way secured, excepting a few

>minor strips for county road changes.


>In this connection please refer to my letter of May 3rd, 1909, with

>which I enclosed a copy of Mr. Churchill's letter to me of April 9th,

>in which there is an estimate of the cost of the line between Paint

>Bank and Sizers whereby if fencing is omitted and small trestles are

>substituted for rectangular masonry, the original estimate of this 5

>mile extension could be reduced from $123,000.00 to $111,000.00. It

>would therefore appear that we are in shape to go ahead with this 5

>miles extension as soon as authority therefor is given."


>That's where my notes end, so there are indications that the line may

>have continued beyond Paint Bank.

>Based on these reports, the Virginia Iron Coal & Coke Co. had a pretty

>extensive operation right at

>Paint Bank.


>> ----- Original Message ----- From: Charlie Long

>>> 1. Appears to have been a wye just past the station at Paint Bank.

>>> Satellite view hints of a wye.

>>> Is this as far as the Potts Valley line went? Looks like it. Were there

>>> any plans to extend it on north 25 - 30 miles to Covington?


>>> 2. Were there any plans to extend it on north 25 - 30 miles to Covington?


>I can't find it in my notes, but I do remember correspondence in the file in

>reference to this question. Someone asked L.E. Johnson if the N&W had

>any such plans to connect to the C&O line that extended down the valley

>from the north and the answer was a very firm "no."


>>> 3. Is this (Paint Bank) the only wooden (or not) two story N&W station

>>> left? As you may know, it is now a bed and breakfast.


>As mentioned, the station at Waiteville was also a two-story station. I'll

>dig through my slides to find photos of this building when it was a

>convenience store.


>>> 4. Since the Craigs Valley line of the C&O was only 10-12 miles away in

>>> Newcastle, were there any plans to connect and interchange?


>See above.


>Bruce in Blacksburg


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