Virginian in 1909--Coal pier

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Thu Feb 5 21:59:14 EST 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
February 26, 1909

New Pier at Tidewater Terminus of Virginian Railway Will be Opened for Business April 1

On April 1st the new, modern coal pier at the tidewater terminus of the Virginian railway, now nearing completion, will be opened for business. The pier is said to be the most modern coal loading plant on the Atlantic seaboard, and in its arrangement, construction and equipment many innovations are noted.
The pier proper, reaching from the head of the incline to the sea end, is just a little over 1,000 feet long. It is seventy feet high and sixty-five feet wide, and in its length the track drops six or seven feet, which gives sufficient gravity to have the coal cars move in that direction.
Over 6,000 tons of steel were used in the construction of this mammoth, modern pier. The pier was designed by H. Fernstrom, chief engineer of the Virginian railway, and the special machinery and equipment was built to conform with his plans.
The dumping machine will handle a fifty-ton railroad car every two minutes. This will permit of 15,000 tons of coal being handled over the pier in a ten-hour day. For 300 working days in a year this would mean the dumping of something like 4,500,000 tons.
The new pier is very desirably situated as to water conveniences. It is some five or six miles nearer the ocean than the Norfolk and Western coal piers, which will mean a slight saving in time. All the slips at which vessels will lay when being coaled, or in taking cargoes, are dredged to a depth of thirty feet, and this depth obtains all the way to the pier from the channel. In fact, it is claimed that the new pier is so advantageously located that vessels can dock at any hour, day or night, as the occasion may necessitate. The new piers are just west of the site of the Jamestown exposition [of 1907], and are directly across the bay from Newport News.
[In his book on the N&W, Richard E. Prince describes VGN Coal Pier 1 as a, "High level type with rotary dumpers on shore for loading electric conveyor cars that were barneyed up to the deck." He lists 1960 as the date retired.]

Gordon Hamilton
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