Crimora Branch (was Amercian Manganese Company at Crimora)

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Oct 23 08:15:19 EDT 2013

Thanks to the inspirations of Dr. Frank Scheer's question about the
American Managnese Co. on the Crimora Branch, and the follow up by "Bruce
in Blacksburg," I have checked out the satellite imagery for evidence of
the old Crimora Branch alignment... something I've wondered about for years.

The 1892 US Geological Survey Topographical Map, Harrisonburg Va
Quadrangle, based on the 1886-1887 survey, gives a good general view of the
Crimora Branch. Although we moderns, armed with our good satellite imagery
and GPS tools, tend to look askance upon the lack of details in the early
Topos, the old cartographers generally did get things right, including
where railroads crossed small streams. I have attached a greatly magnified
image of the Crimora Branch lifted from the 1892 Topo.

Working with the 1892 Topo drawing, I used Bing Maps (which has the best
imagery available to civilians) and GoogleEarth (which has excellent tools
for GPS coordinates, elevations and measurements,) and found about 80% of
the right-of-way of the old Crimora Branch. The west one-third of the
branch (diverging from the main line at Crimora Station,) seems to have
been obliterated by construction and no trace of it is discernible in the
satellite imagery. The eastern two-thirds, however, is visible... if you
look at the right imagery.

>From these investigations, it appears that the Crimora Branch was a tad

short of 2 miles in length, and ran East Southeastwardly at a compass
heading of about 111 degrees, following a stream which appears to have no
name, and terminating at the western foot of Turk Gap on Turk Mountain,
about 160 feet northwest of a building identified as "Crimora Mine" on the
1892 Topo. From studying the imagery, I believe this building was located
about 0.4 miles northeast of the main area of mining activity.

Taking the elevation of Crimora Station (west end of the branch) as about
1367 feet, and the elevation at the far (east) end of the branch as about
1475 feet, the approximate average grade of the railroad would have been
about 54 feet per mile, or about 1%.

The ends of the old alignment which are discernible in the Bing Map imagery
are as follows (but you will need GoogleEarth to get the coordinates, as
Bing does not give coordinates.)

Lat 38.14852
Long -78.8311, elevation 1367 ft

Lat 38.14340
Long -78.8165, elevation 1475 ft

The location of the Crimora Mine building, basing my guess on the location
shown on the 1892 Topo with relation to the streams, was approximately:
Lat 38.1430
Long -78.8162, elevation 1482 ft

Expressed with respect to modern names, the mine building would have been
about 370 feet southwest of the present center-of-intersection of Rt. 612
(Crimora Mine Rd) and Black Bear Lane, on a compass heading of 232 degrees

The branch's right-of-way is generally discernible for about a mile and a
half on the Bing satellite imagery, from 39.14742, -78.82822 on the west
end, to 38-15575, -78.82383 on the east end. HOWEVER, if you attempt to
see the old alignment on the Bing imagery, DO NOT use the currently hosted
imagery (images dated 10-4-2012,) as these images show heavy foliage on the
trees and the old alignment is indiscernible. You MUST use the time slider
at upper left corner of the Bing screen to scale backward to the images
dated 4-30-2011, which show the territory without foliage. This is
imperative, or you will NOT be able to see the old alignment.

The 1892 Topo cartographers even recorded accurately the branch's two
crossings of the (unnamed) creek, at 38.14742, -78.82822 and at 38.14575,

ADVERTISEMENT: If you do not yet use the GoogleEarth program, get busy!
It's Google's greatest freeware gift to mankind.

Okay, I've done my work in locating the old Crimora Branch alignment. It
falls to someone else to dig out the history of the Branch, and its
abandonment dates... and maybe even find some old photos.


-- abram burnett
retired turnip farmer in pennsylvania

Sent to you from my Telegraph Key...
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