Earlier this month, Tex Carter, Wayland Moore, and Nathan White set off west on Virginia 40 from Gretna towards the Darby Road area to pick up the old railroad and walk to the site of the Pigg River Bridge.
Our goal? To figure out exactly where the railroad ran in this area.
Google Earth has helped us virtually explore the line, yet there remains parts, such as this section, that are still tricky to nail down.
However, with “boots on the ground”, the path of the old Franklin & Pittsylvania Railroad was unmistakable. At times the line was built up and at other times we walked through large cuts.
Additionally, we crossed three creeks, all with varying degrees of difficulty (Potter Creek was the most difficult!). Too bad the old bridges weren’t there to help us across!
Hugging the at-times 30+ foot tall cliffs, the railroad paralleled the Pigg River for a good stretch. It was along these cliffs where we came upon the site of the old water tank. Lem Carter, Tex’s grandfather, was struck when the train passed under the water hose on the tank and was knocked off the train. He later died from his injuries.
The rocks were stained from years of moisture from the natural spring which fed the water tank. Coal and cinders were scattered about.
Part of the metal band that once wrapped around the tank was still on the ground. Standing there, trying to imagine the old trains passing through, was a little breath-taking.
We continued on towards the Pigg River and could see the bridge supports still standing. The fact that they were over 100 years old and in still great condition is impressive.
We hope our next expedition is to the west side of the Pigg River. Stay tuned for more reports and pictures!
Click the pictures below for a larger version: