Keen Mountain Railroad
The Keen Mountain Railroad was a 48-inch gauge line operated by the Red Jacket Coal Corporation at Keen Mountain, in Buchanan County, Va. Construction of the little railway was begun February 1, 1937. The mine was served by the Norfolk & Western Railway, which wrote about the line in 1946. At that time, the line was reported as being 2.8 miles long. The line operated two Shay locomotives.
Article from N&W Magazine, February 1946, pp. 60-61, about the Keen Mountain Railroad-Narrow Gauge Coal Mine Carrier.
Location of Keen Mountain and the Keen Mountain Railroad (but no indication of where the railroad was located) on 1916 and 1950 topo maps.
Images from the Virginia Tech Library imagebase
These images are from various years and turn up in a search on “Keen Mountain” or “Red Jacket.”
Keen Mountain Mining Camp, August 29, 1944
Loading cars with graded coal at Keen Mt. near Grundy, August 29, 1944
The mine served was the site of an explosion in 1938, which at the time was one of the worst disasters in Virginia mining history and was reportedly the worst mining disaster in that year.
Information about the 1938 Mine Explosion
Grundy, VA Coal Mine Explosion Kills 45, Apr 1938 (mentions “four-mile narrow gauge railroad”)
Coal Heritage Trail
The Virginia Coal Heritage Trail is a project to “highlight the coal mining history, structures, and culture” of the region while it provides economic opportunities. Part of the 325-mile trail runs through Buchanan County, but not near Keen Mountain.
Corridor Management Plan Meeting, October 21, 2010, discussed changing or adding to the route to include the Keen Mountain coal camp.