VGN in 1911--Tunnel collapse

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Sun Mar 27 20:29:36 EDT 2011

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
August 15, 1911

Freight Train of Empties Crashes Into Muck--Cannot Be Cleared for Several Days

Yesterday morning about 2:30 o'clock the dirt about the airshaft in the Hale Gap tunnel, between Kelleysville [sic] and Glen Lyn, on the Virginian Railway, collapsed and carried down with it fully a thousand yards of muck and dirt, which so completely blocked the 1200-foot tunnel that it will be several days before trains can be run through it. The wreckage was discovered when a freight train, loaded with empties, crashed into the pile of muck. As the train was under control and making slow time, no one was injured. An official of the Virginian said yesterday that the collapse was something which could not have been foreseen. The tunnel is lined at both entrances with concrete, but is timbered inside and it was this timber which gave way, somehow, under the load of the mountain. The original cause cannot be learned until the tunnel can be cleared.
In the meantime passenger trains will have to transfer passengers, but an arrangement is being made with the Norfolk and Western by which it is expected that the Virginian will be able to connect with the Norfolk and Western lines at Big Stoney and run from there to Kelleysville [sic], where track is being built to connect the two lines and permit of traffic being resumed until the tunnel can be cleared. It is impossible at this time to estimate the damage done. The connection with the Norfolk and Western will probably be completed by Tuesday night or Wednesday.
[How about the reporter's description of a freight train "loaded with empties"? This 1911 connection means that the present Kellysville connection is the third connection between the Virginian and the N&W at Kellysville, although someone told me that there was a connection there in World War I, which would make the current connection the fourth one. I could find no account of a World War I connection, however. How about it?]

Gordon Hamilton
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