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John Henry: The Steel Drivin’ Man


Big Bend Tunnel

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When construction engineers reached Big Bend Mountain in Summers County in 1870 they had a decision to make. Would they lay 13 miles of track following the Greenbrier River around the mountain or bore a mile-long tunnel through it? Calculating that the long-term savings in mileage would exceed the cost of the tunnel, they decided to go through the mountain. They would build the Great Bend Tunnel, better known as Big Bend, the longest tunnel in the United States at the time. It took three years to build and was completed in 1872. The route of the tunnel through the mountain is illustrated by the blue line on the map below.


View Big Bend Tunnel in a larger map


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