Virginian Research

(This is from the November 2, 1905, edition of the Manufacturers’ Record, Vol. XLVIII, NO. 16, pg. 395.)

From Sea To The Lakes.

Definite Announcement of the Purpose of the Deepwater-Tidewater Railroad Undertaking.

(Special Correspondence Manufacturers’ Record.]

Charleston, W. Va., October 29.

The Deepwater-Tidewater Railroad is to be constructed to the Lakes as speedily as possible.

This important announcement is made on the authority of Major W. N. Page, president of the Tidewater, chief engineer of the Deepwater and the West Virginia representative and visible head of that remarkable enterprise.

This is the final chapter in the preliminary story of one of the most extraordinary railroad undertakings the world bas ever known. It means the completion at the earliest practicable moment of the first through line from the Lakes to the ocean, traversing the great Kanawha-New River-Pocahontas coal fields of West Virginia. It constitutes the first great new trunk-line construction in the United States since the building of the West Shore Railroad, almost a score of years ago, and in many of its features, as was pointed out in this correspondence some weeks ago, it is unique among all the railroads that have ever been built at any time. It is the only trunk line that ever has been projected to run from starting-point to destination without the slightest reference to towns and cities in the interior. It is the first trunk line ever constructed from the West to the East, and it is the only road of anywhere near equal importance to be built without asking the public to subscribe to stock or buy a bond. Furthermore, throughout its entire length, from lakes to ocean, there will be no grades of more than 7-1/2 feet to the mile excepting eight miles crossing the Alleghenies, where there is a maximum grade of 25 feet, which will make it pre-eminently the greatest coal-carrying road in existence -- the greatest, measured by low cost of transportation and economy in operation.

These claims, based on statements made by Major Page, and referred to at length in my article on this railroad in the MANUFACTURERS’ RECORD of August 24, are given renewed interest at this time on account of the declaration Major Page has just made regarding the intention to push on to the Lakes at once.

“I have received orders to go to the Lakes with the Deepwater at the earliest possible moment” is the form of the announcement made to me by Major Page, who was in Charleston briefly before leaving for the East.

“We shall at once proceed to take out a charter in Ohio, and the road will be constructed with no more delay than the circumstances require.”

“What route will you take, and at what point and on what lake will your Lake terminals be located?” I asked. “Will you build from the Deepwater end, or will your Lake road be an extension of the branch line already located down the Guyandotte from the mouth of Barker’s creek to the mouth of Gilbert’s creek?”

“As we have secured neither rights of way nor Lake terminals, it is obviously impossible for me to discuss either routes or terminals,” Major Page replied. “Those are matters which will not be announced till our arrangements are completed. At present we couldn’t make any announcements, even were we so disposed, for we have no locations. We haven’t even had a surveyor in the field. Other railroads have had engineering corps on every stream in West Virginia affording an outlet for a railroad from Southern West Virginia to the North. Some of these engineers have claimed to be in the employ of Deepwater interests. That is not so. If these moves were made to shut us out, they will not succeed. We will get a location, we will complete the road, and we will have a grade through to the Lakes just as favorable as that on the other end of our line.”

“How is work progressing on the Deepwater-Tidewater line?” was asked.

“The entire road, from Deepwater, W. Va., to Hampton Roads, is now under contract, and the work will be finished within two years.”

“Now, as to the interests back of this road,” I remarked, in an interlocutory way. “I have ventured to speculate as to the probability that the Deepwater-Tidewater road will become a Gould ally. Recently, however, I have seen it stated in print and heard the opinion expressed in private that the Berwind-White interests are identified with the road, which would indicate a Pennsylvania ownership or affiliation. Why, however, with its interest in the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Norfolk & Western railroads, the Pennsylvania should engage in the construction of still another road to Hampton Roads has not been made clear to me, nor do I understand why the Pennsylvania, if interested in the new road, should have permitted the bitter and costly warfare which has been engaged against the Deepwater-Tidewater at every stage of its march to the sea.”

Major Page reflectively blew a few whiffs of tobacco smoke toward the ceiling, then presently turned his gaze and smilingly remarked:

“That will all come out before very long. Any statements you see or hear now are mere guesses. All I will say is that if the Berwind-White or other Pennsylvania interests are identified with the promoters of the Deepwater-Tidewater, I do now know anything about it.”

Albert Phenis.