Another "Straight-Shoot."

March 10, 1870


Another railroad will be constructed in Virginia that will benefit the economy greatly.


The problem is to find that location for a railroad from Clifton Forge, in Alleghany, to Richmond affording the lowest grades, the longest curves, and shortest line, with the least cost in money and time to build it, and the greatest benefit to its stockholders and the community. The location via Lynchburg to Richmond, along the tortuous valley of the James as it struggles through the round, rocky gorges of the mountain may furnish possibly favorable grades and curves, but necessarily at high cost to accomplish them. Every foot of this entire line must yet be built, and will encounter and interfere with rival companies-railroads and canal- throughout. The "straight-shoot" via Lexington, Amherst, &c.. crosses transversely the long, interlocked ridges in the Valley, the Blue Ridge and its buttresses on both sides, and must also yet be built entire and encounter rival lines already in existence. Now, the map shows that an air-line from Clifton Forge to the Blue Ridge tunnel at Rockfish gap, thence via Charlottesville direct to Richmond, is shorter than the route via Lynchburg, and not materially, if any, longer than the Lexington "straightshoot." This Rockfish Gap route must afford most favorable grades and curves, running, as it does, with the direction of the ridges and streams in the Valley, and, from the peculiar formation of the north side of the Blue Ridge at Rockfish gap, admitting on approach by a most easy grade to the very mouth of the tunnel; thence eastward the grade is all descending with the direction of the valley of the Rivanna and James to Richmond. This route from Richmond has already been tested by the engineer's instruments, by the surveys, for the "short track" to Charlottesville, by the construction of the railroad now in operation from thence through the mountain, and from thence, by surveys for the Valley railroad, to and beyond Lexington-more than three-fourths of the whole-and found to be peculiarly favorable in all requisite characteristics. This location, moreover, passes in all its length through a rich marginal country now without proper facilities to market, and capable in itself of supporting a railroad; and thus, too, it interferes with no other or rival line wherein the State and citizens have already vested interests. Less time and less money will be required to construct this line. The Blue Ridge is already tunnelled to hand-at immense cost of both tin and money; a large per cent, of the line eastward is already in operation (to Shadwell depot), and the "short track" has virtually received a subscription from Richmond city of $2,000,000-enough to build it; and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company is compelled to build it in any event. Thus more than half the distance, more than half the time, and much more than half the entire cost, of a short road from Richmond to Clifton Forge is already overcome by this route, while not even a preliminary survey is yet made on any other. This location, if built on by the Chesapeake and Ohio Company, interferes with no other. The Southside can still have the route from Lynchburg to Clifton Forge available as ever for its service; the "Valley railroads can connect earlier with this trunk line; the Orange and Alexandria will be relieved of any serious marginal competition. Details of distance and other characteristics will be given in a second number. Rockfish Gap.
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Charles Simmonds




“Another "Straight-Shoot.",” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 7, 2022,