Building the Virginian Railway

Building The Virginian Railway

Building the Virginian Railway

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Building the Virginian Railway began as a project to create an -long short line railroad to provide access for shipping of untapped bituminous coal reserves in southern West Virginia early in the 20th century. After facing a refusal of the big railroads (who had their own coal lands) to negotiate equitable rates to interchange and forward the coal for shipping, the owners and their investors expanded their scheme and built a U.S. Class I railroad which extended from some of the most rugged terrain of West Virginia over to reach port at Hampton Roads near Norfolk, Virginia.

Southern West Virginia natural resources

In the expansion westward of the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, transportation was largely via rivers, canals, and other waterways. European moving westward often bypassed settling in the mountainous and wooded regions of western Virginia (much of which became the newly-formed State of West Virginia in 1863) to reach the valley of the Ohio River, and the fertile plains beyond. The Native American and early European settlers were aware of coal deposits throughout the area, and some had small personal mines. However, timber was the only natural resource which was practical to export as a product until the railroads emerged as a transportation mode beginning in the 1830s. The earliest railroad to build through the area which is now southern West Virginia was the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O), whose leader, Collis P. Huntington...
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