Pine Mountain tunnel, west portal

Just a couple of days ago, a person who had visited this blog sent me some extremely valuable information on the Pine Mountain tunnel, bored in 1947-1948 from Jenkins KY over to the Virginia side of Pine Mountain.  The C & O was eager to open up a vast, 300 million ton, coal field just east of Pound.  The tunnel was completed in 1948 and was out of service by 1958.  The east portal, which I’ve posted before, is more or less open, if you like slogging in waders to get through to it.  This west portal, near Jenkins, was boarded up rather thoroughly (although I’ve had at least one person comment that they had gone through it).  Thanks to a photo by Chris Balthis, I know that this portal is well reinforced with concrete.  The literature indicates that this side of the mountain wasn’t as stable as the east side.  Look closely and you’ll see the inscription above the tunnel.  They did things like that then…now they just throw tunnels up and slap some concrete on them.  Hmmph, kids these days…
Anyway, I thought I’d posted this western portal.  I hadn’t.  Error corrected.

Pine Mountain tunnel

This is the Virginia (eastern) portal of Pine Mountain tunnel, blasted out in 1947 and sealed up, at least from the Kentucky side, in 1958.  It’s just off Highway 667 above Almira, if you’re coming out of Pound.  The access is at the “Red Fox Trail” sign, but don’t expect an easy way in.  The railbed is heavily overgrown with high marsh grass and there was a lot of marshy goop around.  We leaped, gazelle-like, across a creek and climbed up to the top of the cut and pushed our way through trees, some briars, and other of Nature’s finest obstacles, to where we could get a fairly clear view of the portal.  You actually can’t see it in either of these pictures, but on that light-colored band across the top of the portal is written “1947 PINE MOUNTAIN TUNNEL’.
The Chesapeake and Ohio railroad created this tunnel in order to open up a vast (300 million tons!) coal field just east of Pound VA.  A big thank you to Chris Balthis for providing me some rich research material on this nearly forgotten tunnel.