N&W in 1909--Law Case navigable stream

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 28 12:56:21 EDT 2009

Well, for what it is worth, I can remember my grandmother telling how my
great grandfather took a day to make several trips on a horse taking all the
family and household goods down to the Tug river on Blackberry Creek (on the
KY side) and taking all of them on a boat from there to Portsmouth. Best I
can recall, it was on something she called a flatboat. She was a Hatfield,
and they moved during the period when all the shooten was going on with the
Mc Coys. I think Blackberry Creek hits the Tug up river from Matewan about
a mile. I would guess about 5 or 6 miles down river from Delrome, so it must
have been navigable at least from there during part of the year back then.

Bob Huston


Bluefield Daily Telegraph
September 25, 1909



On Motion of District Attorney Judge Instructs Jury to Bring in Verdict of
Not Guilty

An indictment returned some time ago against the Norfolk and Western
Railway Company, charging that corporation with blocking the Tug river
through double tracking near Delorme in Mingo county, was tried in the
federal court at Huntington Wednesday. District Attorney Ritz prosecuted
the case and Holt and Duncan defended the railroad company. The witnesses
who testified in the case stated that the improvements made by the railroad
company were of such a character that they deflected the course of the
stream to such an extent that it effected navigation and impaired traffic in
that section.

After the evidence was all in, District Attorney Ritz asked the court to
dispose of the case as he was satisfied there were no grounds to support the
prosecution and this was done, the court ordering the jury to return a
verdict of not guilty. The same fate was dealt out in another indictment
against the company for a charge almost identical with the one named in the
first indictment.


[I suppose that Tug Fork of Big Sandy (aka Tug river) could be technically a
navigable stream in the eyes of the US Corps of Engineers, but it is
normally so small it is hard to understand how any "traffic" could have been
impaired as alleged.]

Gordon Hamilton

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