History - 1990's: The ELK RIVER RR
There was a near-dramatic rebirth of at least part of the BC&G in 1989 when Bright Enterprises leased 61 miles of out-of-service ex-B&O track between Gilmer and Hartland, WV. This included the trackage that passed by the former interchange with the BC&G at Dundon. The complete story of this endeavor was well told by Bob Withers in his story "The Railroad That Refuses To Die" in the March 1998 issue of TRAINS magazine. This page on the website briefly summarizes the birth, and death, of the Elk River Railroad (TERRI).
After leasing the ex-B&O, ex-CSX track between GIlmer and Hartland, Bill Bright, owner of Bright Enterprises, purchased the former BC&G right-of-way between Dundon and Widen and renamed it the Buffalo Creek Railroad. Over the next 4 years, Bright refurbished all of the CSX trackage and the short portion of the BC&G from Dundon to Avoca. The track was restored to Class 2 standards and so the maximum speed was limited to 14 mph. The objective of this endeavor was to supply one unit coal train per week from Avoca to American Electric Power (AEP). TERRI operated the loading facility at Avoca.
The headquarters of the TERRI was at Gassaway where there was a small 4-track yard.
The first trains actually ran from Avoca in 1996. A set of about 90 AEP coal cars were used and interchanged with the CSX at Gilmer. One train per week was loaded at Avoca using a couple of Caterpillar 992-C front loaders. Typically 3 of the 5 TERRI locomotives were used on the train into and out of Avoca.
Operation of the Elk River RR ended uncerimoniously on September 15, 1999, about 3 years after it began when the AEP determined that the coal being delivered was too hard for their use. From time to time there was speculation about other customers for coal for TERRI to deliver but none ever materialized.
The TERRI acquired five "elderly" 4-axle numbered 1 through 5. These were selected due to the tight 19 and 20 degree curves along the line. Engines #1, #2 and #3 were rebuilt GP10's. Engines #4 and #5 were GP9's. The engines were built between 1952 and 1959 and served on lines as varied as the IC, Wabash and N&W. All the engines received a very nice blue, red and silver paint job and looked all the world like a serious shortline! All the photos below were obtained from the Elk River Railroad.
All photos courtesy of the ELK RIVER RAILROAD
The operational offices may have been in these two ex-CSX camp cars.
The lettering on this car was done freehand with a spray can.
This is how the Avoca loading facility looked when new. Front loaders and an old D-8 dozer approached the train from the side via the raised berm on the right of the photo below right. The plywood shanties were used for observing the operations. According to Ned Harris, VP of Engineering for TERRI, the purpose of the blue columns was to spray anti-freeze on the coal while it was being loaded to prevent it from freezing together in the cars.
The berm and retaining wall and the rusty remanants of the blue structures were observed during a June 2007 trip up the BC&G.
Ned Harris, former VP of Engineering for TERRI has provided the following information about the TERRI diesel roster. This data was compliled by Ron Stafford in 2002.
ENGINE BUILDER/MODEL B/NUMBER BLD DATE FORMER OWNERS
1 ICG GP10 (EMD GP9 b/n 23837 in 12/57) 12/74 IC
2 IC GP10 (EMD GP9 b/n 19902 in 12/54) 6/69 IC, Onieda Coal, Brooks Run Coal
3 EMD GP7 17076 8/52 N&W, IT, Oneida Coal, Brooks Run Coal
4 EMD GP9 24881 7/59 N&W, Zalkin Coal Sales
5 EMD GP9 24894 8/59 N&W, Zalkin Coal Sales