Late 40's re-alignment on Elkhorn grade

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sat Jul 12 07:46:01 EDT 2014


I have attached a piece of a coal company map of the power plant at
Switchback circa 1914. I don’t have a clear map of where the switchback
actually started, but it was some distance west of the power plant. The
only comment I can make on your drawing is the siding near the power plant
went in the opposite direction. My assumption would be the siding was put
in when the N&W was working on the realignment between Lick Branch and

Alex Schust


*From:* NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] *On
Behalf Of *NW Mailing List
*Sent:* Friday, July 11, 2014 1:42 PM
*To:* NW Mailing List
*Subject:* Re: Late 40's re-alignment on Elkhorn grade

Alex, All,

Thanks for the information.  On the attached map of the stretch below the
powerhouse at Switchback, I have attempted to "overlay" the old main (in
blue) and the branches/spurs/sidings (in red).  Would very much appreciate
it if you could take a look and feedback corrections, additions and

Thanks again,

Jim Cochran


On Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 11:10 AM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>

There were multiple N&W Employee Magazine articles on the Elkhorn
Tunnel/Elkhorn Grade realignment. – January 1948, November 1951, March 1952
and other around the same time period.

The old bridge at Landgraff served the coal mine, The main line was
constructed on the opposite side of Elkhorn Creek (or at least was by 1904).

Page 71 of “Billion Dollar Coalfield” (available from Commissary)
photographs indicates old alignment and new alignment at Maybeury in
1949/1950. Mines in Barlow Hollow closed in 1944 and N&W removed tracks in
1945. Pg 80 of book shows new alignment in Barlow Hollow at location of
former mine tipple.

You can see a photo of main line going through Kyle on pg 107 of book.
There were multiple changes to Elkhorn Creek during realignment.

During the realignment the switch for the Angle Branch was moved to the
opposite side of the main line and came down to Maybeury on the north side
of the new bridge. Pg 90 of book shows original  alignment of Angle Branch.

The power plant received coal directly from Delta Coal Mine. Originally
there was no siding associated with power plant. A siding was built at some
point to either bring new equipment for substation at power plant or during
the realignment construction. I think it is still in place.

Alex Schust

*From:* NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] *On
Behalf Of *NW Mailing List
*Sent:* Tuesday, July 08, 2014 11:25 AM
*To:* NW Mailing List
*Subject:* Late 40's re-alignment on Elkhorn grade

In preparation for discontinuing electric operations with the opening of
the new Elkhorn tunnel in 1950, several miles on the heavy grade were
re-aligned to reduce curvature and rise.  I have read at least one article
(may have been in Railway Age) giving an overview of this work that spanned
several years showing a few pictures/diagrams of a few of the places where
new cuts were made, bridges eliminated, etc.  I would like to get more
detailed information and/or photos of exactly what changes were made during
this project e.g. creek re-routings, U.S. 52 re-routings, all the places
where the line was relocated, any sidings/branches that were eliminated,
etc. etc.  There is an old bridge at Landgraff on the opposite side of 52
from the present main that I assume was left from when the main was over
there.  Also, down in Kyle bottom there are footers standing in someones
front yard that again look like evidence of the old alignment.  I am
especially interested in the changes at Switchback/Maybeury associated with
new bridge and side swap up Barlow hollow.  It is still barely possible to
see slide fence remnants (vertical rail segments) through the leaves/kudzoo
to the North side of the present main near Switchback.  I assume the old
main would have hugged the hill and been right next to this slide fence as
it climbed past the power plant on its way to the old trestle.  I assume
the Angel Branch would have left the main at some point along here, but
would sure like to know exactly where.  Also, was there a siding associated
with the power plant?

Any information on this transformation will be greatly appreciated.
Jim Cochran
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