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Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad


The Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad was built in 1904 from Widen to Dundon, Clay County, where it connected to the Coal & Coke Railway (later part of the B&O). The railroad’s owner, Elk River Coal & Lumber Company, operated a mine at Widen. In 1916, the company built a sawmill at Swandale, and a logging railroad to serve it. The organizations were part of the Clay County empire of legendary industrialist J. G. Bradley.

By the early 1960s, the Buffalo Creek & Gauley was well known for its all-steam operations, rare by that time. The company was sold to Clinchfield Coal Company in 1958, the sawmill to Georgia-Pacific in 1963, and the steam locomotives were retired. Since the Widen mine closed, the railroad has been used intermittently, most recently as part of the coal-hauling Elk River Railroad in the late 1990s. Five of the Buffalo Creek & Gauley steam locomotives are preserved, but none were in West Virginia until 2023, when the Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 4, built in 1926, was returned to service, hauling passengers on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad between Cass and Durbin in Pocahontas County.

Written by George Deike