Bee Rock tunnel

In 1890, the Louisville & Nashville railway (L&N) pushed two tunnels through outcroppings of Stone Mountain between Appalachia and Big Stone Gap while creating its Cumberland Valley Division.  This one, closest to Appalachia at 36.895712, -82.787822, is Bee Rock.








This is the view from the Appalachia side.  The tracks are still in place, but they haven’t seen a train since around 1986.  Bee Rock, at 47′ 7″ in length, enjoyed a brief fame as the “Shortest Railroad Tunnel in Use in the United States”, according to Ripley’s Believe it or Not.   Soon (oops!), someone noticed that there was a tunnel a foot or so shorter over near Gallatin TN and that was that.

This is looking through the tunnel toward Callahan’s Nose tunnel (about 4,000′ ahead), which we’ll come to later (interesting tunnel, that).








The plans are, I believe, to turn this old railbed from Appalachia to Big Stone Gap into a trail for walking and biking.  I hope so.  I’ve walked it a couple of times.  It’s very enjoyable, but, then, I’m easy.  I’ve walked a lot worse rail lines, for sure.

8 thoughts on “Bee Rock tunnel

  1. Anonymous November 3, 2013 / 3:03 pm

    I wish they would give directions rather than Lat & Lon.much easier for us folks that don’t have the new tech.

    • Bob Lawrence November 3, 2013 / 3:19 pm

      Sorry, I tend to assume too much. This tunnel is easy to find. Walk across the old L&N trestle that’s over the highway just as you come in to Appalachia (you can park behind the car wash and walk to your left…on the old line, not the active N&S line). They took this line out of service years ago…the tunnel is maybe a quarter mile down, toward Big Stone Gap. Beyond that is Callahan’s Nose tunnel, with the active N&S line overpassing this old line at the southern portal of Callahan’s Nose. After that, the line crosses the highway and goes on into Big Stone Gap.

      • Pat colbary July 29, 2022 / 10:51 am

        Thanks for your posting I am currently in blue ridge Georgia on the blue ridge scenic railway. It got me remembering about my grandfather who was a train engineer all his life in Appalachia va. I know he went in those tunnels thousands of times.

      • Bob Lawrence July 29, 2022 / 4:25 pm

        Thank you for your comment!

  2. Shannon K March 5, 2019 / 11:48 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you for this page still being up. This was the most accurate information I was able to find on the web. Using for research on a book and places to see and things to do in VA.

    • Bob Lawrence March 6, 2019 / 5:24 pm

      Thank you. That’s exactly what I hoped it would be used for.

  3. Keely Randolph April 14, 2022 / 5:57 pm

    Found and old oil painting said it was at bee rock tunnel but it shows people swimming in a pool is there such a place? Probably painted in20s or 30s

    • Bob Lawrence April 15, 2022 / 7:11 am

      It could be that the people are swimming in the Powell River? It flows by the area where Bee Rock is.

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