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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Where Are We?

This week we are going to a part of the United States that I don’t think I have blogged about yet. We are going to the very southwest tip of the state of Virginia. We are going into the Appalachian Mountains near the town of Duffield in Scott County. This post card is a picture of a train coming out of a tunnel. “Not unusual,” you say. “There are lots of tunnels on railroads in the United States.” You are correct; but, this tunnel was made by natural forces. No one had to use a blasting cap, dynamite, nitroglycerine or other explosives. No one had to risk a life to make this tunnel.

It was first written about by a Lt. Col. Stephen H. Long who explored the area and the tunnel in 1831. He later published an article in a geology journal in 1832.
The tunnel is more than 850 feet long and as tall as 100 feet high. It was carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years. William Jennings Bryan, one of the lawyers involved in the “Scopes Monkey Trial”, a great orator, and the forty-first Secretary of State (under Woodrow Wilson) called it the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

A railroad was constructed through the natural tunnel in 1893. The first train, operated by the Virginia & Southwestern Railway Company, passed through the tunnel in the following year. In 1899, the tunnel line was purchased by the Tennessee & Carolina & Iron and Steel Company. In 1906 Southern Railway acquired the tracks and created a passenger line, the Natural Tunnel Line, which took the passengers through the tunnel. Today, the line is still in use but it is now run by Norfolk Southern and CSX and is only used to transport coal.

The size of the picture on the front of the post card should give you a hint about the age of the card. See last week's blog for a bigger hint. As I zoom in on the picture on the front of the card, you can see that the railroad built a platform onto which passengers could disembark and gawk at the natural wonder and beauty that surrounded them. This is similar to what the Union Pacific did on the trestle that crossed over the Great Salt Lake in Utah. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago.

I don't know anything about the photographer, the printer or the publisher of this post card. I believe that it is probably related to this Drug Store:
Bunting’s, its past and present owners said, launched in the wake of the Civil War in 1869. A city directory from 1896 lists a “Bunting & Son” drugstore at 420 Main St. – which became State Street in the early 20th century. By this time, the business was already a local institution, as suggested by an ad that ran in 1903: J.H. Winston, a lawyer, was advertising his firm with no more specific address than “over Bunting’s Drug Store.”

The post card is from before March 1, 1907, known as the Undivided Back Era.
It is a very clear example of why they would name it the UNDIVIDED BACK era. There is no line down the middle of this post card!

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.