Elk River Railroad

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The Elk River Railroad (reporting mark ELKR) runs for 61 miles (98 km) between Gilmer and Gassaway, West Virginia and has existed since July 1989, although it was originally built in the late 19th century and was once part of the Coal and Coke Railway that ran from Charleston to Elkins, and later the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The railroad originally consisted of more trackage beyond Gassaway, but as of 2015, this track is unusable and in a severe state of neglect. There are two different rail lines in this section of track, the ex-B&O Elk Subdivision, from Gassaway to Dundon, and a section of the former Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad. The Elk Sub was purchased from CSX by Bill Bright in 1989, and if he had not stepped in, this section of railroad would have most certainly been abandoned for good.

In the 1990s, the railroad seemed to have a very high promise of profitability. Mr Bill Bright, the owner of the railroad, invested a considerable amount of money to rehabilitate over 100 miles of ex-B&O track, and 3 miles of ex-BC&G track to Class-II standards, with max speeds of 15 miles per hour. There was a steady stream of coal coming from a mining loadout on the old BC&G, and talk of potential expansion to other mines, other business shipped by rail, and connections to Conrail. Unfortunately, all of this changed in 1999, when the line's single source of traffic, the mine loadout in Avoca, ceased operations, due to the customer deeming the quality of coal produced there to be "too poor", effectively destroying the line's only source of traffic.

Today, there is certainly still potential for shipment of coal from Clay County, but there has been no talk of this since the shutdown in Avoca. If another source of traffic was found, trains would most likely run again, as the entire line is still under the ownership of ELKR and Bill Bright. Today, the only source of traffic for the ELKR is car repair and storage, in the small yard in Gassaway.


Currently, the railroad rosters secondhand "Geep" locomotives; GP10's, #1-2, GP8 #3, and GP9's #4-5, although, according to employees of the railroad, not every locomotive is operational.

Locomotive Number Model Designation Status Notes
#1 EMD GP10 Operational Built 1957 as GP9 IC 9337, rebuilt as GP10 8337
#2 EMD GP10 Non-Operational Built 1954 as GP9 IC 9060, rebuilt as GP10 8060
#3 EMD GP8 Operational Built 1952 as GP7 WAB 475, rebuilt as IT 1750
#4 EMD GP9 Non-Operational Built 1959 as NW 872
#5 EMD GP9 Non-Operational Built 1959 as NW 885

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