The Kanawha and James River Valleys.

March 31, 1871


The areas in the Kanawha and James River Valleys are rich in minerals and will serve the Richmond community greatly. This, along with the commerce and railroads, will reestablish the city of Richmond.


The news from the Valley of the Kanawha is very interesting. The richness of the salt and coal mines, and the iron and lead and gypsum of the upper Kanawha, is such that capitalists have become greatly interested in them, in view of the early completion of the grand Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. Lands, whether mineral or agricultural, have risen rapidly in value, and the state of feeling upon the line of the railroad is pronounced feverish, so high has risen the desire for ownership of real property in what Is as near the Land of Promise as any within the broad limits of this Union. What a world of industry and thrift will be displayed in the grand Valley of the Kanawha within the next ten years ! Wei are sure the man of intelligence who knows anything of the mineral wealth of that valley cannot think of its near future without a feeling of enthusiasm. The Chesapeake and Ohio railroad will afford to it not only the means of transportation, but the means of rapid communication with the world, and that at once must inaugurate a degree of enterprise in the development of its wealth commensurate with its immense resources. We have not a doubt that ten years will bring out an amount of energy and prosperity in that wonderful valley not surpassed anywhere in the United States. Sow, when considering this grand view of bountiful natural resources and human energies, we are naturally led to contemplate the continuous line of low grades favorable to transportation of heavy freights from the Kanawha Valley to the sea. That low line takes Its course along the James to the Virginia tide that is but the pulsation of the great ocean, which is the highway to all parts of the earth. And what is that James River Valley? A great gift or a kind Providence. Its fertile soil, its mineral wealth, its water power, Its grand landscapes, its salubrious atmospheres, mark it as a seat of human industry, thrift, and happiness. Opening to the wonderful Valley of the Kanawha, the bright way to commerce with the world, it. is studded with rich rewards for the industry of man, and no less with resources for his health and happiness. If for the individual we may look for these sources of compensation and of contentment, we may equally value the benefits of this noble valley as the source of wealth to the State. Burdened and impoverished as she is, she may well look to the James River Valley as for her another Nile, to pour wealth into the coffers of the Commonwealth. But how is the wealth of the James River Valley to be developed? By the continuation of the line of railway which brings the rich Kanawha Valley to the uses and benefit of society, to the place of shipment upon the tide that leads to the ocean. That Is the pertinent and decisive answer to the question. And it is a matter of felicitation to us all that the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company has come to the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary that its line should follow the James river from Clifton Forge to Richmond. The company cannot transport the heavy eastward freights that will be thrown upon the line by any other route. By the James River Valley the grade In low-nowhere exceeding twenty feet to the mile-and upon a road with a grade so favorable it is plain that the freight from the Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic can be transported at lower rates than upon any other now known. Mr. Huntington, the president of the Chesapeake and Ohio, has well investigated this matter. His masterly intellect has readily brought him to the conclusion that he must find bis way to the ocean from the Kanawha by the James River Valley ; that by that way alone can he obtain the lowgrades essential to the successful transportation of the great and ponderous commerce from the Ohio; and he has at the present session of the Virginia Legislature secured a charter for the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad to Richmond along the James River Valley. Here, then, we have the unity and integrity of Virginia commerce fairly developed. and, as we believe, thoroughly protected. The two great valleys of the Kanawha and the James are to become the localities of great achievements and active intercommunication between the West and the Atlantic coast. Need we add a word to draw public attention to a commanding point in this grand line of transportation! Need we name Richmond as a focal point on this line of great action and of immense prosperity? The most simple understanding should unavoidably settle upon Richmond as this point. The trade once in the Valley of James river cannot be diverted from it, but must thread its way along the Valley until It strikes the shipping at Richmond. We are very practical. Rigidly so. But we cannot look upon the picture, as we behold it in the future, of the immense success of these agencies without. looking for the day when Virginia will be so relieved from burthens and so full of prosperity and contentment that we forget entirely the present painful hour in the contemplation of the joys that are to come and that are so near at hand
About this article

Contributed By

Megan Wiora




“The Kanawha and James River Valleys.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,