Tunnel Construction Technology Improves
Growing coal sales to foreign countries in the early 20th Century created an increase in the volume of train traffic between the southern West Virginia coal fields and the shipping ports in Virginia. Eventually, the Great Bend Tunnel became incapable of handling the increased traffic efficiently as trains would have to stop on each side and pass one at a time through the tunnel. Thus, the C & O Railway began construction of the Big Bend Tunnel in 1930 to allow continuous east-west rail traffic. The twin tunnels were used simultaneously until the Great Bend Tunnel was closed in 1974.
The techniques and technology used in tunnel building advanced considerably during the 60 years between the opening of the Great Bend Tunnel in 1872 and the Big Bend Tunnel in 1932. The early steam drill that John Henry defeated during construction of the Great Bend Tunnel evolved into reliable drilling systems. This photo shows an air compressor system set up in an old factory setting. A similar system was used here during construction of the Big Bend Tunnel as evidenced by the remains of these concrete foundations. From here,
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars.
Location. 37° 38.99′ N, 80° 45.982′ W. Marker is in Talcott, West Virginia, in Summers County. Marker is on West Virginia Route 3, on the right when traveling east. The marker is on the grounds of the John Henry Historical Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Talcott WV 24981, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John Henry In Fiction (within shouting distance of this marker); Great Bend Tunnel Construction (within shouting distance of this marker); John Henry (within shouting distance of this marker); Concrete & Cut Stone Foundation (within shouting distance of this marker); The Legend Of John Henry (within shouting distance of this marker); Big Bend Engineering Building (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Why The Tunnel Was Built (about 500 feet away); Here Stood a Statue of John Henry (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Talcott.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2021, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 30 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 20, 2021, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.