1 vote

NS - Merrimac Tunnel


Looking NW

Photo taken by Royce and Bobette Haley in February 2017


BH Photo #379015


A long tunnel that crosses between Christiansbug, and Blacksburg, VA. Built by the Virgianin Railway Company in 1914. (Source was Trains Magazine, July 2012)


Tunnel under under town on railroad
Christiansburg, Montgomery County, Virginia
Open to traffic
Built 1914
- Norfolk & Western Railway (NW)
- Norfolk Southern Railway (NS)
- Virginian Railway (VGN)
Total length: 5,176.0 ft. (1.0 mi.)
Also called
Allegheny Tunnel
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.17587, -80.41572   (decimal degrees)
37°10'33" N, 80°24'57" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/551867/4114542 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 56690 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 17, 2017: Updated by Royce and Bobette Haley: corrected date
  • June 23, 2013: Updated by Kelly McClanahan: Fixed Typo/ added dates
  • June 21, 2013: Added by Kelly McClanahan


  • Kelly McClanahan
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com


NS - Merrimac Tunnel
Posted August 31, 2021, by Buddy French (budm44 [at] outlook [dot] com)

This is a correction to my previous comment about there being brick structures at both the east and west entrances of the Allegheny/Merrimac Tunnel. I have only seen structure pictures at what appears to be the east entrance.

NS - Merrimac Tunnel
Posted August 31, 2021, by Buddy French (budm44 [at] outlook [dot] com)

I've read that the Allegheny/Merrimac Tunnel used the Churchill-Wentworth ventilation system before the Virginian used electrics. I suppose the brick structures near the east and west tunnel entrances were part of that ventilation system, but I see no evidence of any connection with them to the tunnel entrances. Were the ventilation structures removed from the tunnel entrance when it was concreted in 1914?

NS - Merrimac Tunnel
Posted October 6, 2019, by Buddy French (budm44 [at] outlook [dot] com)

The Allegheny/Merrimac Tunnel in Montgomery County was open and in use by 1908. The 1914 date on the tunnel represents the year the tunnel was concreted. In May 1913 a contract was awarded the Boxley & Company for concreting the Allegheny Tunnel at a cost of $250,000 and would take eighteen months to complete by November 1914.

Also, construction had begun in October 1913 on a ventilating plant to remove smoke from the tunnel.

NS - Merrimac Tunnel
Posted September 30, 2019, by Buddy French (budm44 [at] outlook [dot] com)

I noticed that the Merrimac/Allegheny railroad Tunnel between Christiansburg and Blacksburg is listed as being built in 1914 and that is what's on the eastern tunnel entrance. I have a Bluefield Daily Telegraph newspaper article dated April 21, 1906 stating that the tunnel construction was well under way by the Tidewater Railway Company. The Deepwater Railway Company and the Tidewater Railway Companies were joined in 1907 to form the Virginian Railway Company and the new Virginian rail line between West Virginia and Norfolk opened in January 1909. So I would have to assume that the Merrimac Tunnel was opened and in service long before 1914. Is it possible that the 1914 date on the eastern entrance to the Merrimac tunnel indicates that was the year when the tunnel entrance fašade was done?

Merrimac Tunnel
Posted October 3, 2014, by Chad Kelham (chadkelham [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Just a little more FYI about the Merrimac Tunnel: it's located on Norfolk Southern's Whitethorne District (ex-VGN)