N&W in 1904 -- Tunnel Fire

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Nov 29 21:51:43 EST 2007

The cribbing in the first tunnel below Bluestone Junction, on the Pocahontas branch, caught fire from a spark from an engine Sunday morning and is now a seething furnace. The ceiling, which is plank, and the cribbing have fallen in with hundreds of tons of rock on top of it, and is burning fiercely.
Every available man is working day and night trying to extinguish the fire. Pumps capable of forcing large streams of water into the tunnel have been put in at either end, and strong concrete walls are being erected to make the work of flooding the passage complete.
General Superintendent A. C. Needles [later president] and Division Superintendent M. J. Caples, with a number of other officials, are at the scene looking after the supervision of the work.
The Bluestone passenger train is shut up in the Pocahontas yard and an extra train sent out from this city is doing the Crane Creek and Simmons work and transferring passengers at the tunnel.
It will be more than a week at the best before traffic on the Pocahontas branch can be resumed. This necessitates the idleness of the large force of miners employed by the Pocahontas Collieries Company.
The work is being pushed with all possible haste, but owing to the intensiveness of the heat issuing from the tunnel, it is a difficult task.
Even after the fire is out the removal of the rock and dirt, which more than half fills the passage and which continues to come in, will be a very dangerous and slow piece of business.
The Norfolk and western has had a great deal of trouble with the two tunnels on this branch. The one next to Pocahontas has just been recribbed and arched after many months of work and at a cost of thousands of dollars, and a great amount of work had only recently been done on this one.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
October 4, 1904

Gordon Hamilton
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