Marion and Rye Valley

nw-modeling-list at nw-modeling-list at
Sat Mar 26 22:53:37 EST 2005

Good Evening, All!!

Just wanted to thank Gary Price and Ben Blevins for turning me onto this
abandoned relic from my hometown. 

Ben, John Decarolis, and myself walked several miles of the right-of-way
this past Friday - From the old 

Look & Lincoln interchange (West of Teas) over across the top of Pugh
Mountain where it intersects with the

Curren Valley just below the old Quebec Fire tower.  

Let me tell you - this was an absolutely beautiful trip!!!   The hardest
part was hiking the Appalachian Trail 

up to the interchange - the rest was gravy, in my opinion.   Even though
this railroad has been abandoned 

for over 70 years - the roadbed was a great hike - A few trees to go
over/under.   Unfortunately, we were

getting rained on, so I was afraid to get my Digital Camera out, but there
are several sights that I HAVE

to get back to photograph.   

Just up from the Interchange with the L&L there is a very large fill (the AT
is still on the roadbed at this point)

that amazes me, just due to the fact that it was prolly done with pick and
shovel - A lot of work there!!

We exited the AT and headed west around the end of the ridge (above Possum
Holler - honest) where you

work your way through the first set of  switchbacks up to the upper end of
the Gorge (good trout fishin) 

Several really nice Cuts through there that fascinate me 1) that they are
still there and 2) all done by hand!!!

Oh yeah, at the very top of the switchback, they were cut into the rock!!!
Kinda looked like streets between 

buildings!!!  Was absolutely fascinating to me!!!  And these were not
haphazardly done, even after 70+ years, 

they were still up there will very little rock falling into the ROW. 

After leaving the switchbacks you work your way up the valley - this was the
roughest part of our walk, 

but only because of the bushes - just duck and walk, not bad at all, except
for the water down the neck : )

The view was absolutely gorgeous and all three of  us mentioned several
times that we wished we could 

have been in the #29 combine (still on my desk Gary) or the Doodlebug
running up thru there - musta 

been amazing in its day!!!  Lotsa deer (and several deerstands)  Still
imagining it and the fog rolling 

up the valleys..sorry guys, got distracted.   

This led up to one of the neatest spots!  There is a huge fill at the head
end of the Gorge that

connects two ridges, 40-50feet high and 200 or so yards long!!!   Again, for
the timeframe constructed, 

prolly mostly by hand!!!  Unfortunately, this spot may not be long for the
world, at least in its "complete" 

form - When constructed, a large culvert was placed under the fill for some
of the Headwaters of the 

South Fork of the Holston River - now as 90+ years passed from construction,
that culvert has collapsed

and the creek is flowing through/around the blockage, eroding the fill
slowly.   There is a small "sink" in

the fill, but Ben said it was about the same size 10 years ago, so who knows
how long it will last. 

Here is where we hit the larger of the two switchbacks we were to see these
worked their way up through

a couple of longer cuts (mostly full of water and swampy) of a hundred yards
long/10-12 feet deep.  

Through these, the little rod engine and shays pulled their loads up 80-100
vertical feet (per my Delorme

TopoUSA figures) in just short of 2 miles - what is that about 4%, pretty
good for a local shortline -  

and they are in beautiful condition all the way up - Great for walking.   It
was fascinating looking down

from the top of the switchback down at the others below it through the

At the top of the mountain we hit a sad spot (for me) a Beautiful cut and
the deepest on the line up there

100 or so yards long, at the deepest part 40-50 feet deep, but is basically
a swampy lake - the Forest

Service cut a road across the hill beside it instead of trying to drain
it.Oh still was pretty 

to see!!!   Here we hit the Forest Service road, that now rides atop the
ROW, as does much of Highway 16

from Marion to Currin Valley, and from Sugar Grove over to Troutdale (as
well as Currin Valley Road and the

road from Troutdale down to Fairwood!!!).  I used to think I was seeing the
roadbed beside Hwy 16, but it 
actually is OLD hwy 16 used prior to the abandonment of the M&RV RR.  That
goes to show you the work 

put into the quality of the roadbed on this line.  

If we ever have a "mini-con" in the area, we really should consider this as
a trip.   The Point to Point distance

(straight line) is just over 1 mile, but the "car-to-car" distance was
closer to 6 (5.75 per my calcs and only a 

small part of the M&RV), but it is NOT a bad hike, a few trees to climb
under/over, but nuthin I can't handle 

and I am NOT in that great of shape (keep your comments to yourself Ben :-))
- we covered it in about 4.5 hours.   

I really should be done in the Late Winter/Early Spring to keep the
brush/bugs/snakes down and so you can really 

see the view, but it's something you should consider if you are interested
in the "out of the way" abandoned lines 

off of the N&W  and the parts we covered  were all Forest Service, so no
trespassing issues. 

Sorry for the length of this, but I had to share this with you guys!!!
Also, Thank you to Gary and Ben for their

work on the book that got me interested in this line and I am looking
forward to more info from you two and

Tom Blevins on the detailed maps!!   Also (again) please chime in to give
more info or correct mine - am 

running from memory and that is marginal sometimes at best...


David E Crabtree

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