This is the original location of the Fremont train station in Dickenson County VA:
As the railroad went up to Moss mine, Fremont became a busy place…built in 1915. Sometime later, a giant grabbed the depot and put it on the hill. Up there is Fremont Avenue (Highway 83 which wends its way between Clintwood and Clinchco. On the other side of the tracks, across a rather heavy-duty bridge over the McClure River, is Highway 63 which takes you to, surprise!, McClure.
The renovated depot, by the way, looks great and continues to well serve the people who travel in this area.
I just want to start off by saying that I absolutely love reading this blog. I stumbled upon it a couple of months ago and I think I have probably read every single article you’ve posted so far. This site has been so valuable in leading me on new adventures and seeing places that I would have not known about otherwise. So, thank you for that. I went on an aimless drive from Wise to Dante and then into Clintwood today, just for the sake of it. Somewhere between Fremont and Clintwood there is a short road called Tunnel Road (Immediately after Old Tunnel Inn Dr. on the left if you are coming from Fremont) Naturally we assumed that there must be a tunnel nearby giving reason for the road’s name. We pulled up to the END STATE MAINTENANCE sign and got out only to find a NO TRESPASSING sign immediately past it. In front of us, a gravel road continued down to a dead set of CSX tracks that curved to our left into the mountainside. We couldn’t see past the trees to see if there was in fact a tunnel there but judging by the landscape it seemed inevitable that there should be. My question is, do you know which tunnel this is (if there actually is one)? I really wanted to see for myself but was not in the mood to be run off. And I hope this isn’t one that you’ve already blogged that I somehow overlooked. Thanks and keep up the good work!
First, thank you for your kind comments on the blog. I’m glad you’ve found it enjoyable. Now, let me tell you I’m an idiot. The tunnel you were close to is Bear Pen Gap tunnel, about a half-mile long. It is on the old (abandoned) Fremont Branch of the Clinchfield Railroad. That branch’s only job was to bring coal out of the huge Moss #1 mine about 14 miles from Fremont. There were several other mines along the way that used the line, too. Now, the idiot part: I was positive that I’d recorded Bear Pen Tunnel but, when I looked at my pix, I found that I hadn’t. Horrors! Looks like a good weekend coming up and should warrant a trip to Fremont and Tunnel Road to nail down the tunnel. The other portal is accessible, so I’ll get it while I’m there.
Keep taking those meandering trips!
I’m glad to hear that there is actually a tunnel there and to know that I’m not losing my mind! I will definitely have to make a trip back there soon. It’s the abandoned tunnels that fascinate me most, as do old buildings. I love taking pictures of them. History is far more interesting when you have something to look at! we were going to look for the other portal but had no idea where it came out. do you think we would run into any trouble if we went back to where we were yesterday? usually a no trespassing sign doesn’t bother me too much but with there being a house nearby I didn’t want to push my luck. or perhaps we would be better off going to the other portal? thanks again for all your information. it’s been truly valuable!
I’m big on old buildings, too. Especially old industrial stuff. Very interesting.
Since the line is abandoned, I don’t think you’ll have any problems; however, I generally don’t go into any of the tunnels unless I can see the other portal clearly and I have a strong LED light with me. Tunnels on main lines are inspected regularly, but on dead lines, you don’t know what condition the tunnel is in. The Pine Mountain tunnel that is near Jenkins KY is in terrible shape…and it was in terrible shape when it was in use.
You can locate the tunnel fairly easily on Google Earth. Enter Clintwood VA into the search bar, then follow 83 (Fremont Ave) to Fremont (it’s not named on the map). Use the ruler tool to go seven-tenths of a mile up the rail line toward Clintwood. The railroad disappears there as it goes under the two highways, then exits again four-tenths of a mile to the northwest. If you don’t have Google Earth, you can download it for free. Great program.
I love the Pine Mountain Tunnel. In fact, an early photo of the tunnel is what sparked my curiosity about it and eventually led me to your blog. I had no idea where it was (or any other old tunnels for that matter) until l found this page. I actually didn’t even know I had such an interest for them until that point! But anywho, a few friends and I went to the Pound portal a few months ago. Luckily all the reeds were dead and there hadn’t been any rain in a few days. It was still a battle nonetheless, but we all managed to make it to the entrance with dry feet miraculously. We didn’t attempt to enter the tunnel itself, but boy was it awesome to see such an impressive structure, long forgotten, still being reclaimed by nature over a half-century since it’s demise. The Jenkins side was indeed an easier hike, but I still found it to be equally as impressive. Plus, I had great fun climbing up to the top of the life size Lincoln log blockade!
I think what does it for me, visiting these kinds of places, is that your average Joe doesn’t get to see them. Because in this day and age who cares about old tunnels and buildings right? There’s video games to play and pages of Facebook to scroll through and pointless social media trends to keep up with. I may be as guilty as any other 27 year old when I get caught being hypnotized by the touchscreen in my pocket, but at the end of the day, adventures in REAL life are what make me fall asleep happy. So once again, thank you for providing me with new destinations to explore. These small towns sure have a lot to take pictures of if you just know where to look!
I’d rather be out tracking down tunnels and sturdy old truss bridges, period. And I’m 43 years older than you are. Both my buddy and I have expressed the wish that we could have been doing this twenty years ago when everything was still more or less in place, but, well, so much for that. I’ve taken over 10,000 pictures so far and I’m not anywhere near finished. My buddy’s interest is the old coal towns (what’s left of them) and the mines that fed a short-lived prosperity for the region. They’re still around, but you have to look.
I’m honored that you started a journey as a result of my blogging. Thank you.