Paint Bank and the Potts Valley line

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sat Nov 21 23:01:34 EST 2009

On Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 10:23 AM, Gordon wrote:

> Somewhere I have seen information that the roadbed grading was extended a

> mile or more east out of Paint Bank down Potts Creek.  I had always

> visualized it as being a somewhat straight line extention east out of Paint

> Bank, and the DOQ terrain map to which Roger gave a link (no pun intended)

> appears to show residual evidence of such an straight extention if you click

> and drag the map, although it could be just the tail track for the wye. But,

> the DOQ terrain map also appears to show an extention of the south leg of

> the wye curving to the East.  Indeed, if you click on "Topo" on the DOQ map

> you will see "Old RR Grade" does follow the same path.  By clicking and

> dragging on the topo map, you can follow the "Old RR Grade" to its apparent

> end.

Back some time ago, when the N&W Archives were still in the VT Library, I
did some pretty deep digging in the files. I dug out the notes I took from the
correspondence files on the Big Stony Railway. What I have end before there
is a resolution, but there are indications that the line extended beyond Paint
Bank -- although perhaps as a mine branch and not as part of the Potts Valley

There are a number of memos and letters in my notes, between company
officers and the the civil engineers:

April 12, 1909

Report -- Schick [the engineer in charge of the project] to Churchill
[company engineer]

Progress as of April 1st

"The Vaughan Construction Co. have very little work to do, they will
also finish in April. The Passing Siding and "Y" Track at Paint Bank
are completed. So also are the Passing Siding and Station Siding at

"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 sidings to the Tipple and Washer.

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

May 3, 1909
Memo from Maher to Johnson
Report from Churchill to Maher, April 19, abut 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.
Lowmore Operation on C&O at Jordan has extensive operation to remove
silica from ore
May 8, 1909
Memo - Schick to Churchill
"At Paint Bank, the Virginia Iron Coal & Coke Co. have a force
completing their settling basin; also a force grading team tracks from
Washer Site to Mine. Timber is all out for washer, and I am told they
will proceed this week to erect the same. I should say that it will be
sixty (60) days before these people can be ready with their settling
basis, tram tracks and washer; it will be necessary for them from now
on to get busy, and work a large force so they can take advantage of
the facilities we will offer when our track reaches their operations.

I now understand these people are talking about putting a steam shovel
at Paint Bank. At the Given Bank at Sizers the Virginia Iron Coal &
Coke Co. have a small force driving a tunnel."

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

That's where my notes end, so there are indications that the line may
have continued beyond Paint Bank.
Based on these reports, the Virginia Iron Coal & Coke Co. had a pretty
extensive operation right at
Paint Bank.

> ----- Original Message ----- From: Charlie Long

>> 1. Appears to have been a wye just past the station at Paint Bank.

>> Satellite view hints of a wye.

>> Is this as far as the Potts Valley line went? Looks like it. Were there

>> any plans to extend it on north 25 - 30 miles to Covington?

>> 2. Were there any plans to extend it on north 25 - 30 miles to Covington?

I can't find it in my notes, but I do remember correspondence in the file in
reference to this question. Someone asked L.E. Johnson if the N&W had
any such plans to connect to the C&O line that extended down the valley
from the north and the answer was a very firm "no."

>> 3. Is this (Paint Bank) the only wooden (or not) two story N&W station

>> left? As you may know, it is now a bed and breakfast.

As mentioned, the station at Waiteville was also a two-story station. I'll
dig through my slides to find photos of this building when it was a
convenience store.

>> 4. Since the Craigs Valley line of the C&O was only 10-12 miles away in

>> Newcastle, were there any plans to connect and interchange?

See above.

Bruce in Blacksburg

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list