Pocahontas No. 1 Tunnel

Pocahontas No. 1 Tunnel is located along the former Norfolk & Western Railway Pocahontas Branch near Pocahontas, Virginia.

Pocahontas No. 1 Tunnel is located along the former Norfolk & Western Railway Pocahontas Branch, an abandoned 4½-mile coal-hauling rail line near Pocahontas, Virginia. The 201-foot tunnel was completed in 1883 by the Pocahontas & Western Railroad, a Norfolk & Western subsidiary. 1 2

The Pocahontas Branch served the southern limits of the Pocahontas coalfield and connected to 27,000 acres of mineral rights controlled by the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, approximately 27,000 acres of mineral rights owned by the Farraday Coal & Coke Company, and 32,000 acres of mineral rights belonging to the Pocahontas Coal & Coke Company (leased to the United States Coal & Coke Company). 3

In 1891, work began on the Ohio Extension of the Norfolk & Western from Powhatan, West Virginia, and Coal Grove, Ohio, with the former line from Bluestone Junction and Pocahontas becoming the Pocahontas Branch. 2 4 In November 1916, the line was electrified as part of an electrification project along the mainline between Bluefield and Vivian. 1

The Pocahontas Branch served only four coal operations, split evenly between the Pocahontas Fuel Company and Pocahontas Big Vein Coal Company. 2 Pocahontas Fuel operated its original No. 1 mine in Pocahontas until October 13, 1955. 1 2 During its reign of 73 years, it produced more than 44 million tons of coal. The preparation plant in Boissevain operated until the early 1970s, while another facility in Pocahontas was open until 1974. The rail line was mothballed afterward, preserved in the event another mine would be developed in the vicinity.

It was once proposed to develop an excursion train to operate between Pocahontas and Bramwell, West Virginia along the Pocahontas and Bluestone Branches, but the idea never came to fruition.



  1. Hawkins, Jeff. “The N&W’s Pocahontas Branch.” Rails in Virginia, Mar. 2013.
  2. Schust, Alex P. “Into West Virginia 1881-1883.” The Norfolk & Western in West Virginia 1881-1959, Two Mule Publishing, Harwood, MD, 2018, pp. 1–26.
  3. “General Remarks.” Report of the Directors of the Norfolk and Western Railway Company, 1902, p. 18.
  4. Schust, Alex P. “West Virginia Development 1891-1900.” The Norfolk & Western in West Virginia 1881-1959, Two Mule Publishing, Harwood, MD, 2018, p. 121.

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