Viscose Radford Plant-Viscoe Road, Bridge

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Feb 7 21:22:59 EST 2007

Bruce, thank you for adding to this subject. Others now are getting the rest
of the story.

Bud Jeffries

----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 4:21 PM
Subject: Re: Viscose Radford Plant-Viscoe Road, Bridge

> At 10:12 PM -0500 1/25/07, Bud Jeffries wrote:

>>Farmer Jeffries can not add much. Viscoe Road is the name for the access

>>road to the site now from Rte 114. The American Viscose was to build a

>>factory there after WWII and the N&W built the bridge across the New River

>>to give rail access to the proposed site. There is no reference of the

>>bridge's construction in the N&W annual reports, but a source of mine says

>>the bridge has a date of 1951 on a builders plate. I thought it was a


>>earlier than that. The factory was never built by American Viscose because

>>of decreasing demand for its products. For the same reason, its Roanoke

>>plant closed in July 1958.


>>A company, unknown to me, built the large industrial building that is


>>now in the 1970s. AT&T took it over about 1981. Today the whole American

>>Viscose site is an industrial park, a housing subdivision and golf course.

>>The old RR bridge is being used to extend utilities to that area.


> I'm a little behind in reading email, but I finally found some time to go

> through my old clips from my days as a reporter with the Radford News

> Journal. I found one article, excerpted below, that covers the plant in

> Fairlawn in Pulaski County, across the river from Radford.


> The land was originally for a new American Viscose plant to be built in

> the late '40s. In anticipation of this, the N&W extended a branch from the

> east end of Radford yard, crossing the New River on a substantial trestle.

> Although the line was graded on the plant site, the tracks never extended

> past the end of the bridge. FMC Corporation (which I claim was a

> subsidiary of American Viscose; there is/was some connection) built a

> textile plant on the site in 1971. When FMC divested its fiber operations,

> Avtex Fibers was formed to purchase the holdings through a leveraged

> buyout. The plant was closed in September, 1979, and sat vacant until

> March, 1980, when Western Electric purchased the site for a manufacturing

> facility. The plant was again left vacant in the late '80s when AT&T shut

> down operations.


> While TerraServer and Google Earth are nice, there is a better alternative

> for many localities in Virginia. The Commonwealth of Virginia did its own

> aerial photography in 2002, much of it in high resolution. Localities have

> access to the data and many have put it on their web sites as part of

> their GIS system. Pulaski County has a site at

> Click on the small map to

> move to and zoom in on the horseshoe bend in Fairlawn where the plant is

> located. Click to activate the "VGIN Orthophotography" and you will get a

> photo underlayerment once you have zoomed in close enough. Zoom in real

> close and you can see the structure of the trestle as a shadow cast on the

> New River. You can also see the graded right of way into the plant site,

> plus other features.


> While trying to track down some details about Avtex/FMC/American Viscose,

> I found a lot of information about the Avtex plant in Front Royal, now a

> Superfund site to clean up years of polution. One interesting site (which

> includes a detailed description of the manufacturing process) is the one

> about Jim Brewer and his friends and construction of a large HO model

> railroad in Glenwood, Maryland, based on a part of the Shenandoah

> Division.


> Bruce in Blacksburg


> ----------

> Radford News Journal, October 28, 1979


> Avtex Fibers officials busy looking for a new tenant



> Staff Writer


> One month ago, Avtex Fibers closed the doors at its plant in Fairlawn,

> putting 330 people out of work.


> Since the closing, Avtex officials have been busy collecting information

> and making contacts in an effort to find a new tenant for the 500,000

> square foot facility.


> The site in Fairlawn is in a horseshoe of the New River. It was purchased

> by the American Viscose Company in 1946 as a site for expansion of its

> operations. Some site work was done and a rail connection with the Norfolk

> and Western Railroad was arranged, but the plant was never built.


> The 750 acres of land remained with American Viscose and on October 19,

> 1971, plans for a new factory on the site were announced. The plant was

> built for FMC, a subsidiary of American Viscose.


> In 1976, the plant became a part of Avtex as FMC redeployed capital to

> other operations with high growth potential.


> When the original plans for a plant were made, the decision to build in

> Radford was made because of the New River water supply, the labor market

> and the Norfolk and Western main line.


> In 1946, a bridge was built across the New River by the N and W and

> American Viscose. The line ran from the east end of the Radford rail yard

> across a steel trestle, which is stin standing, and onto the Viscose

> property.


> According to Don Piedmont, a spokesman for the N and W, the line was never

> put in service. The grade up to the bridge is still visible, but the rails

> and ties have been taken up. Ties and tie plates are still on the bridge,

> but no rails. A large iron plate was erected to keep trespassers from

> crossing the bridge to the Avtex property.


> ---------------

> Avtex Fibers

> Partners Mend Site, Sew Quilt of Future Uses


> The Avtex Fibers plant was at one time the world's largest producer of

> rayon - an instrumental product for NASA's space shuttle program and for

> parachutes and jump suits made for the Department of War during World War

> II. While the plant enjoyed a proud history producing important

> commodities for the nation and employing thousands of local citizens, it

> also left behind a legacy of contamination and blighted property on the

> banks of the Shenandoah River. Since its closing in 1989, community,

> business, and government partners have worked tirelessly to reverse the

> damage and redevelop the site for future generations to enjoy.


> For more than 45 years, the 440-acre Avtex Fibers plant manufactured

> rayon, polyester, and polypropylene fibers for commercial, defense, and

> space industries. It employed over 2,500 people in the area. From 1940

> through 1962, American Viscose owned the facility and FMC Corporation

> (FMC) owned the plant from 1963 until 1976. In 1976, Avtex Fibers, Inc.

> purchased the site from FMC and continued manufacturing operations until

> 1989, when Avtex closed the plant and declared bankruptcy. In June 1986,

> the site was listed on the Superfund program's National Priorities List.




> -----------

> Jim Brewer and friends are building a large HO model railroad in Glenwood,

> Maryland. The layout follows the prototypical Norfolk and Western Railroad

> along the Shenandoah River in Virginia in the 1956 period.




> ----------


> Movementech works with groups to develop in depth analysis of the context

> of the situation in which they are organizing. One of the key components

> of this type of research is analysis of their opponents: typically

> corporations advancing their own business interests.




> -----------------


> Once Virginia's largest Superfund site, this former rayon manufacturing

> facility is being recovered to provide a 175 acre eco-friendly office

> park, 30 acres of soccer fields, and 240 acres of conservancy park along

> the Shenandoah River. This Web site provides current information to

> interested parties concerning the redevelopment progress of the Avtex

> Fibers Superfund Site in Front Royal, Virginia.




> ---------------

> U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) site with photos



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