Friday, February 5, 2021

NS/Southern 1889,1892 Trestles over Lonesome Valley near New Tazewll, TN

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; Facebook PageSatellite)

There is not a creek in the bottom of this valley, just a road. And the valley is so lonesome that Google's street view car has never gone down this road. According to some comments on the following post, the road is a long, curvy, narrow gravel road. So I understand why there is no street view.

Jennifer Dawn McGinnis posted 21 images with the comment:
Lonesome Valley Train Trestle-New Tazewell TN (Claiborne County)
*👻 said to be haunted
The Lonesome Valley Trestle is serval miles down a narrow curvy gravel road. 
This trestle is a replacement made of steel after a tragic event when the original wooden trestle collapsed in June 1892. 
The railroad coming thru Lone Mountain is how the town of New Tazewell was formed. The Knoxville, Cumberland Gap and Louisville (K,CG,&L) raildroad had planned to go through Tazewell, the county seat of Claiborne County, but were unable to obtain right of way. So, they had to make a different route. This new route went thru where the town of New Tazewell was formed after the railroad company built a depot there.
The Lonesome Valley Gorge was spanned by a trestle here that was 800 yards long and 139 feet high at its highest point. (The highest trestle K,CG&L would build on the 69 mile line connecting Knoxville to Middlesboro). 
The original Lonesome Valley Trestle was made of Georgia Pine wood in 1889. It contained 5 tiers of wooden construction and cost $30,000.   
The wooden trestle was weight sensitive and only rated for 1 engine at a time... 
Just 3 years after the trestle was built, it would collapse, when a train being pulled by 2 engines attempted to cross. 
Before the Trestle collapsed in 1892, the Trainmen had been suspicious of the trestle for sometime, but it had been recently inspected and reported in good condition.
On June 14th, 1892, a Tuesday morning, a Knoxville, Cumberland Gap & Louisville (K,CG&L) Train departed Middlesboro in route to Knoxville. It was train #17 being pulled by Baldwin Locomotives Engine #9 & Engine #10 and carrying 10 coal cars and a caboose.
Around 9am, the train crossed the Powell River and began a steep incline. The train rode across the Lonesome Valley Trestle running about 20 miles an hour, when the timbers gave way causing the trestle to collapsed.  The train and wooden trestle plunged 139 feet to the valley below. 
The engineer, Andrew Allison and fireman, James Shelton, in the cab of Engine #9 were killed instantly. The conductor, Duckworth, was fatally injured and the 2 brakemen received serious injuries. 
Another fireman, from engine#10, Charlie Frailey, saved his own life by catching and clinging to a tree as the train plunged into the valley.
The American Society of Civil Engineers findings were that the cause of the trestle collapse was because of too much weight.
The KCGL immediately began to rebuild the trestle using steel framing instead of wood. The engineer was William Barclay Parson, who founded Parsons Brinckerhoff, one of the largest American civil engineering firms.
During replacement construction, on 
December 23, 1894, at 11:30 a.m, another accident happened causing 2 more deaths. A cable holding an immense weight of iron, came loose and a mass fell, taking down 2 workers, killing them instantly: Lem Williams of Philadelphia, Pa, and J E Stark of New York.
The cost of the replacement Trestle was  $40,000.
*The concrete foundations from the original 1889 trestle are still present. 
👻 The Lonesome Valley Trestle is said to be haunted. People have heard a train at night when no train is there. Others have seen green and red lights flash from mysterious locations that float above the railroad. Phantom screams have also been heard. 
*Thanks to Randy Bullen for telling me about this trestle.
Denia Cupp: My papaw walked across that all the time when he was a young man back in the 1920's and 1930's he told us grandkids stories about hanging from the railroad ties while trains went over them on the trussle.
Fred Buis: The land owners in Tazewell wanted to rob the railroad. My grandfather John Buis gave them right of way on his land through Cowan city which is now New Tazewell. The tracks ran in front of his business
Jennifer Dawn McGinnis shared
Jennifer Dawn McGinnis shared













Rick Dreistadt: This reminds me so much of Tulip trestle in Indiana. One of our points of visitation next time you make it this way.

After I posted this I looked up the facts, Tulip is about 20 feet taller and 3 times longer, but I don't think it's ever had any collapses. There used to be one closer to us, that began as a wooden structure and was changed to steel like this one in the early 1900's. It was probably much the same as this one.








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