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William N. Page, a civil engineer and entrepreneur, had begun a small logging railroad in Fayette County in 1896, sometimes called the Loup Creek and Deepwater Railway. It extended from an interchange at Deepwater with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) on the south bank of the navigable Kanawha River 4 miles (6.4 km) up a steep grade into the mountainous terrain southward, following the winding Loup Creek to reach a sawmill at Robson which was owned by the Loup Creek Estate. It was operated by the C&O under a verbal agreement.
In 1898, the Deepwater Railway was incorporated, and an extension was planned to reach nearby coal deposits in the general area of Glen Jean. In 1902, assisted by silent partner, millionaire industrialist Henry H. Rogers of Standard Oil fame, Page expanded his plans, first to extend further in West Virginia, and then to the state line with Virginia. In 1907, the Deepwater Railway was acquired by its sister Tidewater Railway to form the Virginian Railway.