Share Every Blood-Stained Mile: The Building of the Norfolk and Western in West Virginia
May 01, 2012
Train and railroad enthusiasts can join other history buffs for “Every Blood-Stained Mile: The Building of the Norfolk and Western in West Virginia,“ the topic of discussion for a lecture at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 1, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Historians Jack and Kay Dickinson of Huntington will deliver the free talk and the public is invited to participate in the presentation.
Almost as soon as the Norfolk and Western (N&W) Railroad edged its way across the Virginia state line into Bluefield, N&W President Fred Kimball began to look for a midwestern outlet to expand his markets. He decided to extend his railroad to the Ohio River near Ceredo, where he could link up with another railroad that traveled to Cincinnati and Columbus. The Ohio Extension, as the additional N&W Railroad was called, ran from Elkhorn, near Bluefield, to the Ohio River.
This was rugged territory, and law enforcement was almost nonexistent. When the railroad began construction, different ethnic groups often clashed resulting in several deaths. By September 1892 when the track opened, the Ohio Extension had cost $8 million, almost bankrupting the N&W. However, the railroad brought a new era to the region. Villages sprang up, centered around the railroad station, and towns like Kenova, Naugatuck, Welch and Williamson took hold and still exist. When Kimball realized he had made a mistake in choosing the original path along Twelvepole Creek, the N&W built the Big Sandy Line, which follows the western border of West Virginia along the Big Sandy River. Today this is the route of the Norfolk Southern through West Virginia.
On May 1, the library will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m. for participants only. For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the workshop, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail at email@example.com or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.