VGN in 1911--Through Bluefield

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Sat Apr 2 22:50:05 EDT 2011

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
August 16, 1911 (Wednesday)

Make Detour From Matoaka to Big Stoney on Account of Cave-In At Hale Gap Tunnel

Bluefielders were given a chance yesterday to see Virginian passenger trains and perishable freight trains when they passed through this city making a detour from Matoaka to Big Stoney, on account of the falling in of the Hale Gap tunnel. The Bluefield railroad men are certainly a lot of loyal men, as it was impossible yesterday to find a single man who would admit that the Virginian equipment is as good as the Norfolk and Western equipment, when the two were placed side by side at the depot or in the railroad yard.
Two passenger trains, one eastbound and one westbound, went through Bluefield and will continue to do so until Monday, when it is believed the connection with the Norfolk and Western at Kelleysville [sic] will be completed. After Monday the Norfolk and Western tracks between Kelleysville and Big Stoney will be used until the Hale Gap tunnel is repaired, which may not be for two or three weeks.
The Virginian Railway Company has turned over the repair work to contractors and it is impossible to estimate the amount of work which will have to be done as it cannot be told when the sliding dirt will stop. It will be necessary to drive through the dirt and timber as progress is made, and then the engineers will have to devise some plan to keep the lining of the tunnel safe against future slides.
Raymond Du Puy, vice-president and general manager of the Virginian will go to the tunnel this morning on train No. 12 and will inspect the damage, which it is now impossible to estimate. A continual rumbling and roaring can be heard about the tunnel and ropes have been thrown about it to keep back the crowds of people who might be injured if they were to venture too close to the slipping mountain.
It is not known now whether the repairs to the tunnel can be completed in six weeks or six months. Engineers are undecided as to whether it will be necessary to make a ??* or whether the repairs can be made. It is believed the fall of muck and rock has affected the entire mountain, and engineers are anxious to go inside and see the real extent of the damage so they can make some estimate on what the possible cost will be.
The same tunnel gave the Virginian considerable trouble about two months ago when a fall occurred, which tied up the line up [sic] twenty-four hours. Wrecking crews repaired it at the time, but it appears the mountain could not be restrained as it suddenly gave way again without any warning. Engineer Richardson, whose westbound train of empties ran into the slide, narrowly escaped injuries, and if the slide had occurred a half hour later it is likely that a train of eighty cars of coal and a whole crew of trainmen would have been buried beneath the cave-in. Engineer Scott, who was to take a train of loads east, was delayed twenty-five minutes at Princeton, while some repairs were being made to his engine. This delay caused him to make a siding at Kelleysville instead of Rich Creek, with the result that he escaped going through the tunnel.
Yesterday a force of bridge men were at work building a bridge across the river at Kelleysville so that trains may be taken over it. It is hoped that trains will be detoured via Norcross over the Norfolk and Western to Kelleysville today, where they will be transferred back to the Virginian over the temporary bridge. It is not known how long this service will have to be continued.
*[The word was blurred on the microfilm.]
Gordon Hamilton
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