We felt we really hadn’t made enough effort to document the eastern portal of Pine Mountain tunnel. My buddy acquired two sets of waders. And we needed them. The distance is short, but the way was uncomfortable in a number of ways. There were some sort of reeds that were dead, but towered well over our heads. See the picture of Lee (my hiking buddy) as scale.
There were also briars, cold water as deep as a couple of feet, with mud a little deeper…oh, and downed trees across the way. Not complaining, you understand, because seeing the portal was informative. James Goforth in “Building the Clinchfield” (ISBN 1-57072-191-9) says that Pine Mountain is located in “a highly disturbed fault area”. When I looked into the portal (on left), I saw what 53 years of neglect has produced: the roof of the tunnel is falling in. With a strong light, Lee was able to see more rockfalls further down.
We also saw where all the water was coming from. The water is blocked from coming into the tunnel by a 4′ or so high cinder block wall just at the portal entrance.
After we sloshed and squished out to the car, we went over to Jenkins to access the western portal, but came to a locked gate. We decided that we’d had enough mud for this day and promised to come back later. However, I did take a shot of the abutment of a railroad bridge that apparently crossed an existing road as the line went on down into Jenkins.
Having been to the other three “state line” RR tunnels from KY to VA(Cum. Gap, Haggins, & Breaks), I consider this one the “holy grail” of KY RR tunnels. I congratulate you guys for having the initiative to go to this challenging location. The closest I’ve been is the abutment you have posted. I wonder if any other states have four RR tunnels under the state line to an adjacent state?
It’s not a long walk up to the tunnel portal from the abutment, if you’re in the area. Thank you for your comments. As to the possibility of a similar or greater number of tunnels under other state lines, I’m sure sufficient research would tell the tale. I work full time, have four other websites, and am kind of lazy, so all that militates against my doing that digging right now, but it’s an interesting question.
My grandfather, William Fred Hughes, helped dig that tunnel. He lived in Jenkins at the time. He told me that in the center of that mountain, they dug into a solid wall of Obsidian (Volcanic Glass) and had to dynamite through it. I still have a piece of it. At one time back in history, a volcano must have tried to come through that area.
That’s really amazing. Thank you for your comment!
I took a few pics of the ky side if you want me to send them to you. My email is above
I’ve got them posted in another entry. It’s the portal that’s mostly sealed up. But I thank you very much for your offer.