Elkhorn tunnel

This tunnel, referred to in early N&W documents as “Tunnel 377”, was first known as the Coaldale tunnel, but is now officially (as the sign on the lintel says) the Elkhorn tunnel.  Shown is the SE portal at 37.333022, -81.338904, about one mile as the crow flies, from the NW portal of the Coopers tunnel, across the Bluestone River.  The tunnel is on the Flat Top Extension, which opened up a way to the Ohio River for the N&W.  It was excavated between 1887-1888 and is 1.3 miles long.
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As you can tell by the comment below, this posting is pretty much just twaddle.  This is the Elkhorn Tunnel, but it’s Elkhorn Tunnel #2. The original tunnel was a single-track jobbie about 3,100′ long.  That line was electrified between about 1915 to just after WWII.  Wanting double tracks and seeing needs shift, N&W bored this tunnel, about 1.5 miles NW from Bramwell WV.  It was dedicated in 1950.
According to Buddy French (http://shinbrierwv.com/coaldale/return_to_coaldale_-_great_story_by_buddy_french), the old Elkhorn Tunnel, located at Coaldale, was abandoned and filled in after the new line was built.

I always appreciate comments and corrections, always!

14 thoughts on “Elkhorn tunnel

  1. bill gordon June 19, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Enjoying your blog, noticed this photo of the new Elkhorn tunnel. New Elkhorn tunnel replaced the single track old Coaldale tunnel which is close by to the north and slightly higher. Portals for that tunnel were buried. New Elkhorn was finished about 1950 and is 7101 feet in length. It originally had ventilating fans for blowing out the smoke from steam locomotives.

  2. Anonymous December 26, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    Not saying your wrong, but the Coaldale Tunnel was above this and to the right coming from Coopers Tunnel. It was deliberately filled in after Elkhorn was built. Don’t remember reading they gave this tunnel same name, but possibly. Just keep in mind this tunnel replaced Coaldale. Had the pleasure of walking through this. Doesn’t look like 7,000 ft, but it sure feels like it.

    • Bob Lawrence December 26, 2017 / 5:08 pm

      Your memories are more valuable for me than the research I’ve done. I need now to go back and find out where I got the posting wrong. Many thanks!

  3. Buddy French July 18, 2018 / 12:22 am

    According to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph archives dating back as the 1890’s, construction began in 1886 on what was originally referred to as the Flat-top and or Elkhorn Tunnel. It seems to have taken on the Coaldale name in later years, most likely being associated with the Coaldale community located at the western entrance of the tunnel. In 1950 when the new Elkhorn Tunnel was opened, the Coaldale Tunnel was taken out of service. The Coaldale tunnel had been driven through the twelve thick Pocahontas No. 3 coal seam between the Mill Creek Coal & Coke Company lease and the Caswell Creek Coal & Coke Company lease. The N&W sold the coal as they advanced the tunnel which helped to offset its construction cost and it was completed in 1888. There were smaller parallel ventilation tunnels that were bored parallel with the main tunnel. There was also a tunnel length long barrier block of coal on each side of the railroad tunnel to protect it from the workings of the two adjacent mines. After the Coaldale tunnel was taken out of service in 1950, a coal company began mining the coal on each side of the railroad tunnel. According to the actual maps I have a copy of, mining began at the eastern entrance on 3-14-1952. The map shows progressive dates all the way through the mountain until the last coal was mined at the western entrance on 9-28-1955. As the supporting blocks of coal on each side of the railroad tunnel were mined out, the tunnel collapsed and doesn’t exist today.

    • Bob Lawrence July 18, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      Absolutely fascinating information! Thank you!

      • Buddy French July 20, 2018 / 5:23 pm

        Thanks so much for your interest. If there were a way, I would post the actual maps showing how the coal was mined out on each side of the Coaldale tunnel with the dates. I also have a map diagraming the ventilation air flow through the tunnel and how the smoke and steam were drawn ahead of the steam engine as it entered the tunnel from the western side. The smoke and steam was exhausted out the large fan behind the Coaldale power plant

      • Bob Lawrence July 21, 2018 / 8:16 am

        Thank you! But, within the confines of WordPress, there’s not reasonable way I can post all that.

  4. Anonymous July 25, 2018 / 11:45 pm

    Have you been to the abandoned tunnel near carbo va

    • Bob Lawrence July 26, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      Please be more specific. Where near Carbo?

      • Anonymous July 26, 2018 / 5:23 pm

        It’s on Wilder hollow Rd, I have pictures from the entrance. I walked it over the weekend, 1800ft long

      • Bob Lawrence July 27, 2018 / 5:52 am

        Thank you! That helps a lot. Nothing like a new tunnel!

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