N&W in 1912--Two items

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Mon Dec 26 22:56:01 EST 2011

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 7, 1912

Wreck Crew Busy
Yesterday morning the wreck crew was very busy for a few hours on the west yard replacing a car on the track at the Citizens Coal and Supply Co. On Tuesday evening the yard crew were placing three cars in the shed of the coal company and in doing so shoved one of the cars, which was standing in the shed, through the other end, which emptied the coal in the lot of H. R. Hunter and scattered the remainder of the car in the sand pit, which caused considerable damage.

Track Torn Up for Mile
With a broken journal, which resulted in the wheel breaking and dragging along the track, scribing each railroad tie as the car attached to a train rushed along, a Norfolk and Western freight train ran across the state of Kentucky on Tuesday night. The accident happened east of the Hatfield tunnel, near Williamson and for a mile the track was torn up, delaying train No. 3 for several hours, and resulting in delays which were not overcome for several hours longer, as train No. 3 passed over the track before the work was entirely completed. The train passed through Hatfield tunnel, along the gauntlet track in that tunnel without leaving the rails.
[The reference to Kentucky calls attention to a unique situation where the N&W main line tracks go through that state almost entirely in Hatfield Tunnel. In the attached Google Earth view the track east and west of the Tug Fork river is in Mingo County, West Virginia. The West Virginia--Kentucky state line is in the middle of the river, so from the mid-point of the river at one end of Hatfield Tunnel to the mid-point of the river at the other end of the tunnel, the railroad passes through Pike County, Kentucky mainly in the tunnel. I once read that back in the days of ICC regulation of railroad freight rates that a shipment from Matewan, WV, about a mile east of the tunnel, to Sprigg, WV, about a mile west of the tunnel, had to be charged at interstate rates even though it went from a West Virginia station to a West Virginia station because it went through Kentucky on the way!
The reference to a gauntlet track in the tunnel is because in 1912 there was only a single-track Hatfield Tunnel. The N&W Annual Report for year ending June 30, 1913, states, "Double track work is in progress as follows: ...Hatfield Tunnel, WV, 0.55 miles. This will be completed about February, 1914." The N&W Annual Report for year ending June 30, 1914, states, "Two bridges, 580 lineal feet, were completed in connection with double track at Hatfield tunnel." This double tracking resulted in present-day twin Hatfield tunnels.]

Gordon Hamilton
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