Bridge at Narrows, VA

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Aug 13 20:48:37 EDT 2013

Let me offer the following in addition to the excellent information provided by Bruce:

The former Virginian between Narrows and Roanoke is experiencing a greater variety of traffic than was the case twenty or so years ago. In addition to eastbound coal, a typical day eastbound will see two or so mixed freights, perhaps a tank train, one or two grain trains, an autorack, and from time to time, westbound movements of empties and mixed freight. The westbound movements, more frequent than twenty years ago, generally occur during periods of track maintenance on the former N&W or periods of traffic congestion. Yesterday, for example, three trains went westbound during the afternoon. While coal traffic is down over the past several years, tank cars have significantly increased.

Ray Smoot

From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 8:11 PM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: Bridge at Narrows, VA

Glen Lyn,VA

Ed Painter - Dahlonega, GA from Narrows,VA (having also lived in Rich Creek,VA and Glen Lyn,VA)

On Aug 13, 2013, at 3:25 PM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at<mailto:nw-mailing-list at>> wrote:

On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 2:29 PM, someone wrote:

I'm looking for info on the bridge that connects the former VGN mainline on the north side of the New River to the N&W mainline on the south side near Narrows, VA.

What trains would use the former VGN to Roanoke vs the N&W tracks on the other side.

I'm assuming the VGN bridge at Glen Lym came down around the same time. Is this correct?

That bridge was build courtesy the Virginia Department of Highways (now the Va. Department of Transportation, VDOT) in return for its grabbing the VGN right of way from Narrows to Glen Lynn. U.S. 460 was a narrow, curvy, two-lane road between Narrows and Rich Creek and from Rich Creek to Glen Lynn, clutching to the side of the mountain above the Virginian tracks. After the N&W and VGN merged, the highway department saw a nice, level stretch of land that could be used to improve that section of highway. The original bridge at Kellysville, W.Va. that allowed eastbound movements from the N&W to the VGN was replaced with a new bridge that went the other way, taking eastbounds from the VGN onto the N&W. The Narrows bridge was built to move trains back to the VGN. Tracks were taken up and a new road built. Between Narrows and Rich Creek, two eastbound lanes were laid down where the tracks used to be and the original road became two lanes westbound. From Rich Creek (which was bypassed), a new four-lane stretch of highway was built, although it still crossed the New River on the original steel through-truss bridge. That road tied into the new U.S. 460 built by West Virginia that went over Hale's Gap (and on to Princeton on an entirely newer and better route), obliterating the VGN right of way and Hale's Gap tunnel. Over time, the New River Bridge was replaced with new spans.

The Virginian was and still is used for eastbound coal trains. Trains come out of Bluefield and Priceton and use the double-track N&W between Kellysville and Narrows. Depending on traffic, trains destined for the Virginian tracks may cross over in the Narrows at Robinson Crossover or they may not change until the Narrows Connection Crossover right at the bridge approach.

I'm not sure when the west bridge in Glen Lynn came down. All the approaches on the east side of the New River were removed as part of the highway work (although one of the concrete piers is still there, pretty much immovable). There were still three steel spans over the river well into the '70s but they were eventually removed. The tall concrete piers are still standing in the river, though.

A plug: see for information about Kellysville, Glen Lynn, and changes to the area.

Bruce in Blacksburg

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