Devon Tunnel

First it was timber that drove the railroads, narrow gauge lines, into Buchanan County VA.  The timber baron W. M. Ritter ran Shay engines and a few passenger cars along with his freight cars, the Big Sandy & Cumberland Railroad, all over Knox Creek, up the hollows and, eventually, on into Grundy.  When the N&W line took it all over in 1923, they had a problem.  N&W was standard gauge.  Shay engines can do a 6% grade, slowly, but the big non-geared wheels of the steam engines couldn’t.  The N&W opened its company coffers and rebuilt the line to reach the rich coal beds in the area.  They built a wye over the Tug Fork from the Pocahontas Main Line and constructed this tunnel, Devon Tunnel.  This north portal is at 37.52763, -82.04658.
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You can see in the above picture, on the left wall of the tunnel, a niche.  Apparently, there was once a manual switching unit there.  It’s all controlled now remotely.  Here’s a better look at the mechanism.
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And, my favorite picture, looking out of the portal to the deck girders forming the wye over the Tug Fork.

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On the other side, about 1700′ back, is the south portal, a little more worse for wear.  The date on both is 1930.

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