The coal feeder: the NF&G

koontz bridgeA line that deserves mention is the Nicholas, Fayette & Greenbrier Railway. The railroad was named after the three counties it served in the New River coal field in West Virginia, and was created in 1929. The predecessors to the NF&G were C&O’s Gauley Branch, which ran from Gauley Junction to Greendale, the Sewell Valley Railroad, which was constructed from 1908 to 1910 to serve a large sawmill in what became Rainelle, Wva, the Loop & Lookout Railroad which built several lines, including one from Rainelle to Nallen.

Further west, the Kanawha & West Virginia Railroad, constructed a 10.7-mile line Belva at Twentymile Creek to Swiss. Then, in 1917, the Sewell Valley and Loop & Lookout railroads were transferred to the Sewell Valley and Ohio Railway. Finally, in 1929, the NF&G was formed with the Sewell Valley and Ohio being folded into the new company.

The NF&G constructed 28 miles of track, including two tunnels, from Swiss to Nallen between 1929 and 1931, including the 3,164-foot Koontz Tunnel. The NF&G built a coal assembly yard at Rainelle, where it built coal trains for delivery to the C&O mainline at Meadow Creek, WVa, and westward from Rainelle to Swiss, where a connection was made with the NYC line running southeast from Charleston. The NF&G did also own and run three Brill Model 55 gasoline powered motor cars on four routes radiating out of Rainelle. A round trip fare for example in 1948 from Rainelle to Clearco was .78 cents!

In my research the information is a bit fuzzy as to how and when the C&O and NYC gained 50-50 ownership of the NF&G. The NYC and later PC used the NF&G as a coal feeder line to connect to PC’s Peters Creek Branch, which ran from a connection with the NF&G at Peters Junction up to Enon. Two coal tipples were located on the Peters Creek Branch, the Cornelia and Clearfield tipples, with 1970 output at 6924 cars. Further research as to when and why the NYC and C&O wound up with a 50/50 ownership of the line has found that both companies (subsidiaries) wanted to build into the area, and could not come to a mutual agreement, so in 1929 the ICC ordered the 50/50 ownership.

An application to dissolve the 143-mile NF&G was filed by Conrail and CSX to the Surface Transportation Board on January 16, 1996.  Under the application, Conrail would acquire the NF&G from Swiss to Peters Junction, a distance of eight miles, while CSX would acquire the NF&G from Peters Junction east to Meadow Creek, and branch lines between Rainelle Junction and Raders Run, Rupert Junction and Clearco, and C&E Junction and Brush Junction, and operate under the Sewell Valley Subdivision.

The last train to run on the Subdivision was in July 1996 after the Pittston mine closed down. CSX filed for abandonment from milepost 59 to milepost 43.7 on January 30th, 1997. Another coal mine along Glade Creek was shut down in 2006, leading CSX to again petition in 2008 to abandon another portion of the Sub between milepost 27 and 43.7. Both petitions to abandon were approved. In 2012, several counties purchased the former roadbed for a 16.7 mile long trail…

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