3 votes

Memorial Tunnel


Memorial Tunnel

West Portal before closure

WV Parkways Authority Archive

BH Photo #266376


Street Views 


Opened to traffic on November 8, 1954. Construction required the movement of 91,000 cubic yards of earth and was the first tunnel in the US to have closed-circuit television monitoring. Starting in 1976, upgrades to the West Virginia Turnpike commenced in an effort to convert it's entire length from a Super 2 highway to a 4-lane controlled access interstate. By 1983 all but the Memorial Tunnel had been completed. The tunnel created a bottleneck. Instead of upgrading and expanding the tunnel, a 1.72 miles (2.77 km) extension was constructed to serve as a bypass for both the tunnel and the original Stanley Bender Bridge. Costing $35 million to complete, 10,000,000 cubic yards of earth was removed in addition to 300,000 tons of coal being removed from the mountain. The final vehicle passed through the tunnel on July 7, 1987.

Between 1992 and 1995, the Department of Transportation entered a deal with the state to utilize the abandoned tunnel for smoke, fire and ventilation experiments to design better ventilation systems for the Big Dig in Boston. Some of the results of the tests were also incorporated into the design of the Channel Tunnel in Europe.

In 2000, the tunnel was selected as the location where the Center for National Response would conduct anti-terrorism training exercises.


Tunnel on Old I-64 Old I-77
Kanawha County, West Virginia
Intact but closed to all traffic
Built in 1954 and closed to vehicular traffic in 1987, it is now utilized by the Center For National Response as an anti-terrorism training facility
Total length: 2,802.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.13277, -81.41420   (decimal degrees)
38°07'58" N, 81°24'51" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/463700/4220627 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Cedar Grove
Inventory number
BH 57987 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 22, 2016: New photo from Ryan Freeland
  • July 10, 2016: New photo from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • February 16, 2015: Photos imported by Dave King
  • September 13, 2013: Added by Michael Miller


  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Ryan Freeland - ryan [dot] freeland1980 [at] gmail [dot] com


Memorial Tunnel
Posted June 25, 2015, by John Goold (BlueWilliamus [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I enjoyed going in the east portal because you would go across the bridge into the tunnel that was high on the mountainside.

Memorial Tunnel
Posted September 15, 2013, by Michael Miller (michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com)

You're quite welcome! I loved this old tunnel and was fortunate enough to witness several of the smoke tests that were run there as part of the big dig project in Boston. To me, this tunnel reminds me of going to Myrtle Beach as a kid. After we went through the old tunnel, we would count how many times we crossed over Paint Creek before getting to Beckley!


Memorial Tunnel
Posted September 13, 2013, by Kelly McClanahan

Thank-you for posting this, I was but I simply did not have enough infomation to post it. I remeber see this when I was going to school in SW Virgiana, some 20 years ago. The new bypass was only two years old at the time.