Have you ever been out bridge hunting and come across the remains of a bridge? Abutments, piers or any combination of bridge components, all tell-tale signs of a history that is usually more of a mystery.
I've often come across several such ruins that seem to have no rhyme or reason to why they were there, or any trace of what was once there.
In Ritchie County, West Virgina, these abutments are such ruins. The Historic American Engineering Record did the research on these abutments, though, as part of a mitigation study for a proposed reservoir.
The researchers found that this site is about all that remains of a short line called the Harrisville Southern Railroad. It was founded by a consortium of business owners in Harrisville, West Virginia, to connect to the Baltimore & Ohio, a few miles away, in nearby Cornwallis. The rails followed the Black Run and required 11 bridges and 12 trestles to reach Cornwallis from Harrisville, an impressive amount of engineering work for a railroad that was only 6.1 miles in length.
The Harrisville Southern was one of three short lines in Ritchie County, but it was the only one built to standard guage, allowing it to transfer rolling stock with the B&O. The line was completed in 1915, but only operated until 1929 when competition from paved roads was its undoing. Ironically, the last freight load it carried was sand and gravel for road paving.
The land was sold at a sheriff's auction in 1929, but the owners retained the right to remove the infranstructure. The rails were pulled up, the bridges and trestles dismantled and everything was sold.
These bridge ruins are all that remain.
The study is very interesting, and you can see it for yourself by following the link to the HAER website.