Frederick J. Kimball

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Frederick J. Kimball
Frederick J. Kimball.jpg
Born (1844-03-06)March 6, 1844
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died July 27, 1903(1903-07-27) (aged 59)

Frederick James Kimball (March 6, 1844 – July 27, 1903) was a civil engineer. He was an early president of the Norfolk and Western Railway and helped develop the Pocahontas coalfields in Virginia and West Virginia.

Kimball was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 18, he went to work for the Erie Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad as a rodman, a menial worker. After a short time, he went to England for two years, where he worked for English railroads. Upon returning to the United States, he quickly moved up the ranks of railroading jobs. In 1857, he became a partner in E. W. Clark & Co., a private Philadelphia financial firm. In 1878, Kimball became the prime mover behind the construction of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, which was building up the Shenandoah Valley.

In 1881, the Clark firm bought at auction the foreclosed Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad (AM&O), an east-west railroad across Virginia controlled by William Mahone. Kimball, who was a partner in the Clark firm, headed the new line, which was renamed Norfolk & Western Railway, and consolidated it with the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. For the junction for the Shenandoah and the Norfolk & Western, Kimball and his board of directors selected a small Virginia village called Big Lick, on the Roanoke River. The small town was later renamed Roanoke, Virginia.

Under Kimball, the Norfolk & Western became famous for manufacturing steam locomotives in-house at its Roanoke shops. Kimball, whose interest in geology was responsible for the opening of the Pocahontas coalfields in western Virginia and West Virginia, pushed N&W lines through the wilds of West Virginia, north to Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, and south to Durham and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This gave the railroad the route structure it was to use for more than 60 years.

In 1885, several small mining companies representing about 400,000 acres (1,600 km²) of bituminous coal reserves grouped together to form the coalfields' largest landowner, the Philadelphia-based Flat-Top Coal Land Association. Norfolk and Western Railway bought the Association and reorganized it as the Pocahontas Coal and Coke Co., which it later renamed Pocahontas Land Corp., now a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern.

Transported by the N&W and neighboring Virginian Railway (VGN), Pocahontas coal fueled half the world's navies during the 20th century and today stokes steel mills and power plants all over the globe.

Kimball died in 1903, and was succeeded as president of the Norfolk and Western Railway by Lucius E. Johnson.

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Henry Fink
President of the Norfolk and Western Railway
1881 – 1903
Succeeded by
Lucius E. Johnson