While exploring Virginia’s back roads, I came upon the former New River, Holston and Western Railroad (NH&W) that once extended from the Norfolk & Western (N&W) at Narrows on the New River in Giles County to the village of Suiter in Bland County, Virginia. The 43-mile line followed Wolf Creek or its tributaries for its entire length.

In 1903, Lees and McVitty of Salem sought to build a tannery in Narrows. Tan bark from virgin stands of white oak and hemlock would be used to tan leather. To source the timber, the pair constructed the first three miles of the NH&W from Narrows up Wolf Creek. In 1912, the line was extended to Rocky Gap when W.M. Ritter purchased Buck Horn Timber, a local lumber outfit, and by 1914 the railroad had reached Suiter. The railroad featured twelve stations at Talmash, Penvir, Bridge No. 2, First Ford, Chappel, Nidey, Round Bottom, Rocky Gap, Novis (South Gap), Hicksville, Bastian and Suiter.

In 1919, the NH&W was sold to the Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W). While the N&W maintained service on the line for five days a week, local timber resources began to be exhausted by the 1930s and the run was cut back to three days a week. In 1946, the railroad was dismantled and the bridge and roadway was converted for Virginia Route 61.

Click through to read on about the history of the New River, Holston and Western Railroad »