Potts Valley Branch Question

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Oct 10 21:42:56 EDT 2017

> QUESTION:  The N&W held charter rights to extend (what became) the Potts
> Valley Branch all the way to Potts Creek, Va,  five or so miles north of
> Paint Bank, Va.  Did they ever exercise this privilege, and actually build
> to Potts Creek ?

​Do you want a tourguide/navigator/passenger on your Potts Valley
excursion? I would love to explore this branch again. I did research on it
when the N&W Archives were in the Virginia Tech library (and expect to get
back to those files, now stored in GOB East).

Based on the correspondence files for President Johnson, the branch ended
at Paint Bank. There were thoughts and plans about going further but
apparently the N&W opted not to do so. The Virginia Iron, Coal & Coke Co.
might have laid track for the 5 miles to reach its operation at the Givens
Bank, but it would have done so on its own to reach its operations at Paint

Also attached is a report on the mileage of the line up to Waiteville as it
was being constructed.

Bruce in Blacksburg


>From the files:

April 12, 1909

Report from Schick to Churchillian
Progress as of April 1st

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 siding to the Tipple and Washer.

I understand they intend going right ahead with all their outside work. I
was also told that preparations were being made to open up at Sizers,
getting everything ready for a large shipment of ore. This of course will
mean the extension of present line from Paint Bank to Sizers.


May 3, 1909
Memo from Maher to Johnson

Report from Churchill to Maher, April 19, about 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


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 Given Opening,
about six miles, and prepare an estimate at once as to the cost of building
this line. The Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Co. own 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 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."


Jan. 31, 1910

Memo -- Maher to Johnson

Enclosed is a report from Mr. Churchill, dated Jan. 29th, with reference to
iron ore developments in the vicinity of Paint Bank.

Jan. 29, 1910
Letter -- Churchill to Maher

"I have just had an interview this morning with Mr. E. E. Vaughan,
Superintendent of the Mines, Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Co.

. . . The development of iron ore at Givens Bank, which is a Sizers -- five
miles below the end of our track -- are being continued and good ore is
being found. A tunnel is now carried into the ore 75 ft., and Mr. Vaughan
is certain that the width of the ore at this point will show about 150 ft.
He thinks a tram track or some other arrangement will soon be required to
reach this ore, which he believes will average about 48 per cent. metallic

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