A Great Virginia Through Line of Railroad.

February 7, 1870


The advancement of railroad lines will benefit Virginia.


Among the great internal improvements now in course of construction must be reckoned the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. This road, which is to form one of the great trunk lines between the Eastern Coast and the Mississippi Valley, will be to Virginia what the Baltimore and Ohio is to Maryland, the Pennsylvania Central to Penn--sylvania, and the Hudson River and Central railway to New York. It is not generally known that Virginia contains within her borders by far the most feasible and practicable route for a first-class railroad between the Atlantic seaboard and the great West. The line now building on the West Virginia slope of the mountains is incomparably the line of lowest grades between the East and West. From the Alleghany summit, near the celebrated White Sulphur Springs (to which point the road is in operation), the grades to the Ohio nowhere exceed thirty feet to the mile, while the great bulk are under twenty feet per mile, or less than those in common use on our best roads. Similarly, in making the ascent on the seaboard slope of the range, the grades are less than those in use on any of the trunk lines to the West, and admit of being reduced to the maximum of the western division. This is a very manifest advantage in the important matter of heavy freights. When we reflect that the Chesapeake and Ohio line passes through the great coal-fields of the Kanawha valley, and that it lies along a more temperate belt of climate, and through a very productive country, its advantages for large traffic and cheap carriage are apparent. Several of the English roads, and some of our own, are carrying coal at rates less than one cent per ton per mile, and are reaping a profit therefrom. The Kanawha mines, abounding in cannel coal, and in the still more valuable "splint" coal, are 300 miles from tide-water by this railroad. It will be practicable to lay this coal alongside coasting vessels at seven dollars per ton, and at New York and points further cast for nine dollars per ton. One hundred miles east of the coal beds are vast deposits of superior iron ores, and to unite these two will ultimately give employment to a vast amount of railroad rolling stock. Besides the local traffic it will be observed that the western termini of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad are upon the most navigable portion of the Ohio river, and will have the inland river system for a great freight connection. In addition to the river it will have, by short connecting lines, access to the great railroad centres of the West-Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Louisville - and through them to the cities further West. The distance between Chicago and the magnificent harbor of the Chesapeake over this new line is less than the present route between Chicago and New York. Washington city is also brought nearer to Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis, by this line than formerly. New York capitalists of some eminence have recently connected themselves with this enterprise, among whom are Messrs. C. P. Huntingdon, of the Pacific railroad; A. A. Low, William H. Aspinwall, David Stewart, Jonas G. Clarke, Pliny Fisk, and William B. Hatch, of New York. Messrs. Fisk & Hatch, the bankers, are the financial agents of the company.
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Charles Simmonds




“A Great Virginia Through Line of Railroad.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 3, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1590.