The BC&G has proved to be a line that just
won't go away. It's history dates only back to the early 20th century
when it was chartered by the Elk River Coal & Lumber Company
(which was organized by Joseph Garner Bradley) in 1904 to serve the
company's future coal and lumber interests in the region. The railroad
was initially planned to be quite an endeavor at over 100 miles in
length connecting Dundon in Clay County with Huttonsville in Randolph
County. Unfortunately, those ideas never materialized and the railroad
only reached a short distance east of 18 miles from Dundon to Widen.
About seven years after the railroad was chartered it finished its
farthest stretch eastward to Widen in 1911. That same year Rich Run
Mine was opened giving the BC&G increased traffic (very early in the
railroad's existence a small coal mine existed near Dundon giving the
railroad an initial source of traffic). Then, in 1918 the sawmill at
Swandale, located about halfway between Dundon and Widen opened. These
vast sawmill operations and coal mine at Rich Run (near Widen) would
prove to be the BC&G primary source of traffic for much of its
Interestingly, of the BC&G's steam locomotives only four were ever purchased new, 2-8-0 Consolidation #4 from Baldwin Locomotive Works
in 1926, and three Climaxes. Of note, the BC&G did
roster a few diesel locomotives including; a Plymouth 44-Tonner,
Whitcomb 65-Tonner, and even an Alco S1. For a complete locomotive roster please click here.
All-Time Locomotive Roster
Climax (Two Truck), E-1 Through E-3: Purchased new.
Climax (Three Truck), E-4: Purchased second-hand.
4-4-0 American #1: Purchased second-hand from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
2-8-0 Consolidation #2: Purchased second-hand from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
2-8-0 Consolidation #3: Purchased second-hand from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
2-8-0 Consolidation #4: Purchased new from Baldwin in 1926.
2-8-0 Consolidation #5: Purchased second-hand from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.
2-8-0 Consolidation #6: Purchased second-hand from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
2-8-0 Consolidation #7: Purchased second-hand from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
0-6-0 Switcher #8: The smallest engine ever rostered by the BC&G, it was acquired in 1945 and retired just five years later in 1950.
2-8-2 Mikado #9: Purchased second-hand from the Kelley's Creek & Northwestern Railroad.
2-8-2 Mikado #10: Purchased second-hand.
2-8-2 Mikado #11: Purchased second-hand.
Shay (Three-Truck) #12: Purchased second-hand.
2-8-0 Consolidation #13: Purchased second-hand from the Kelley's Creek & Northwestern Railroad.
2-8-0 Consolidation #14: Purchased second-hand from the Kelley's Creek & Northwestern Railroad.
2-8-2 Mikado #15-#17: Purchased second-hand.
Shay (Three-Truck) #18-#19: Purchased second-hand.
Alco S1 #1: Purchased second-hand.
Plymouth 44-Tonner #20: Purchased second-hand.
Whitcomb 65-Tonner #20: Purchased second-hand.
The BC&G, along with the ERC&L's own railroading operations,
also owned two Railbuses, Shays, Climaxes, and even early diesel
switchers. In 1958 after mounting losses the ERC&L, including all
subsidiary operations like the BC&G, were sold to Clinchfield Coal
Company, which subsequently sold the mill to W.M. Ritter Lumber and
leased the rail operations to the lumber company. Unfortunately, things
just went downhill from that point. In 1963 Rich Run Mine finished
operations and two years later the final load of finished lumber
products left Swandale for the B&O interchange at Dundon. Interestingly, this was not the end of the BC&G. In 1971 the
railroad was revived by the Majestic Mining Company and reopened all of
the way to Widen to load out a coal mine located near there. It
originally used a 65-ton Whitcomb (#20) for power and later an Alco S-2
(#2). The Majestic Mining operations lasted until 1985 at which the old
railroad once again sat dormant.
But again fate saw a future for the BC&G and in the early
1990s the Elk River Railroad, Inc. was established to serve a mine at
Avoca. To reach the mine the Elk River Railroad (also known as TERRI)
purchased 61 miles of the B&O's former Elk River line (that
originally connected Grafton with Charleston) between Gilmer and
Hartland. This stretched reached the old B&O/BC&G interchange
at Dundon. TERRI had purchased the entire line to Widen but only
refurbished it as far east as needed (to Avoca). The coal loaded was
purchased by American Electric Power
(AEP) but nearly as soon as the Elk River Railroad began operations it
all came to an end in the late summer of 1999 when AEP decided the coal
was too poor in quality for their use.
Today, the Elk River Railroad remains "active" but has not moved a loaded train in more than ten years. It continues to earn minimal revenue by storing and refurbishing rail cars
for CSX at its Gassaway yard (also where its former offices were
located). Since the 1999 closing of the Avoca mine speculation has
swirled of the TERRI resuming operations (including rebuilding the old
B&O route all of the way to Charleston) but nothing has yet actually
happened to date. Also, three of BC&G's steam locomotives survive, including
2-8-0 #4 which was pAlsourchased new. Currently #4 is under a full
restoration by the North Carolina Transportation
Museum and to be returned to service sometime in the future. Sisters
#13 and #14 also survive, the former on display in Gaithersburg,
Maryland and the latter currently stored at West Lafayette, Ohio.
|The former interchange tracks of the B&O and BC&G have been turned into someone's driveway. The two tracks are still in place to either side of the road if you look closely.|