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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


The route of the C&O extension crossed a hundred miles of rugged mountain terrain. Engineering crews which included many former Confederate officers had to be lowered by rope into the steep canyons.

Agents recruited thousands of Irish and German laborers from the docks of New York and thousands of southern blacks who were attracted by a wage four times greater than what they were paid on plantations.

“About five thousand men are now employed on the work of construction along the unfinished part of the line. Wherever we rode I saw whites and negroes working together pushing at the same car, shoveling at the same dirt heap, lifting together at one rock.” Charles Nordock

John Hankey: West Virginia as a state is probably the most formidable area in the country in which to build railroads. Life was hard out on the C&O. The fellows who built the railroad were nothing more than beast of burden, digging the cuts, digging the tunnels, grading the fills, cutting the timber, literally making the cross-ties as they came through the trees. Work was more dear than life in many cases.

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