"Castle Rock Branch" off the Roanoke & Southern ... ?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Nov 10 16:01:39 EST 2017

On Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 7:46 PM,

> Abram,
> This short-lived branch passed about 0.5 miles from where my home is
> located in Southwest Roanoke County (but long before this neighborhood was
> developed).  The branch left the Punkin Vine somewhere near where
> present-day VA 419 passes under the track, and its route is roughly
> followed by VA 419 today until the point where the branch crossed Mud Lick
> Creek, where I seem to remember reading that a ore washing plant was
> located.  The branch continued from the creek up grade to the ore mines
> along about where Castle Rock Road runs today.  Until developers chopped
> down all of the trees to build dwellings named ironically "McVitty
> *Forest*," and especially moved a lot of earth around, it was possible to
> see the branch right of way where it approached Mud Lick Creek on its way
> to the mines.

​The branch was also part of several lawsuits, in both state and federal
courts, over possession of materials/assets on the branch.

The Castle Rock Branch


(Circuit Court, W.D. Virginia. February 12, 1901)

"It appears that the mining company, in order to obtain better facilities
for the shipment of ore from its premises, entered into a contract in
writing on the 25th of April, 1893, with the Roanoke & Southern Railway
Company and the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company for the construction of
a branch railroad from a point on the main line of the Roanoke & Southern,
the property and franchises of which were then leased to the Norfolk &
Western Railroad Company, to the mines of the mining company a distance of
about three miles. This contract provided, inter alia, that the mining
company should forthwith convey to the Roanoke & Southern Railway Company
an unincumbered title to the right of way, and thereafter, with diligence,
construct thereon the roadbed, including the grading, trestles, bridges,
and culverts, preparatory for the superstructure. The latter, including
rails, ties, switches, frogs, etc., was to be furnished and erected by the
Roanoke & Southern Railway Company, called the "lessor company," with funds
furnished by the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company, called the "lessee
company." The branch, when completed, was to be operated by the lessee
company, by whom the cost of constructing the roadbed was to be refunded to
the mining company, by the allowance to the latter of a rebate of 10 cents
per ton on the freight originating on the branch line, and carried to or
beyond the lines of the lessee company; and if the mining company, for a
period of six months, continuously abandoned operations along the said
branch, or failed to furnish business sufficient to defray the expenses of
maintaining and operating the same, then the lessee company might, after 90
days' notice, and further default of the mining company, discontinue the
operation of the branch, and remove the superstructure therefrom. The
branch line was built and operated from September, 1893, to May, 1896,
after which latter date no ore was mined or shipped.""

As the various companies went through receiverships, there was negotiation
about continued operation of the Castle Rock branch by the Norfolk &
Western Railway Co. But the mining company could not provide the right of
way with a clear title due to liens on the property.

"The negotiations thus rendered abortive were ultimately declared off; and
the railway company, with the alleged intention avoiding the complication
of its property with the possible of a purchaser at a judicial sale of the
Castle Rock lands, in January, 1897, began the removal of the rails, ties,
and other parts of the superstructure from the Castle Rock branch,
possession of which then held, and had continued to hold after acceptance
of the Roanoke & Southern property from the receivers of this court. Thomas
Lewis was afterwards appointed receiver of the mining company, and
subsequently instituted the action at law complained of."

The report deals with questions about the right of the railroad to remove
assets from the property. Actual interpretation of the case is welcome from
those who have a lawyerly bent . . .

See "The Federal Reporter: With Key-number Annotations," Volume 109, pp.
See https://goo.gl/LXTFti

Bruce in Blacksburg

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