4 votes

Big Bend Tunnel


Big Bend Tunnel

Historical marker on WV Highway 3/12 just west of Talcott

Photo taken by Bob Morgan in May 2007


BH Photo #134380


Original tunnel built to bypass an 8 mile long bend in the Greenbrier River. Passes between Hilldale, and Talcott West Virginia.
Summers County, West Virginia
Intact but closed to all traffic
built from 1870-1872 by C&O RR to cut off Big Bend. Legend/tradition names this tunnel as scene of 'Steel Driving Man' John Henry's race with steam drill
- Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O; CO)
6500 foot long 17 foot high 13 foot wide tunnel bored through shale and bedrock. Originally opened with bare rock, brickwork began in 1878 and completed 10 years later using over 6 million bricks.
Total length: 6,500.0 ft. (1.2 mi.)
Also called
Big Bend Tunnel
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.64508, -80.78341   (decimal degrees)
37°38'42" N, 80°47'00" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/519107/4166458 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
1500 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 40018 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 15, 2012: Updated by Loyd Lowry: Name changed to reflect proper tunnel.
  • September 13, 2011: New photos from Luke Harden
  • February 27, 2009: Added by Bob Morgan


  • Bob Morgan - morgans212 [at] att [dot] net
  • Luke
  • Loyd Lowry - loydplowry [at] yahoo [dot] com


Big Bend Tunnel
Posted May 17, 2010, by David Yates (david_y [at] bellsouth [dot] net)

The Big Bend Tunnel is about hundred feet away from the Great Bend Tunnel made famous by John Henry. The Great Bend Tunnel was abandoned in 1974 and seems to suffer from a drainage problem.

Big Bend Tunnel
Posted March 14, 2010, by Loyd Lowry (bigbassloyd [at] verizon [dot] net)

There are two tunnels at this location. The original bore as noted here, was renamed Great Bend Tunnel upon completion of the 1932 bore. Length as built was 6477'. In 1917 it was extended 23' when a ventilation plant was built on the West portal. The original tunnel was taken out of service in 1974. The new bore took the name Big Bend Tunnel, and is still in use by current owner CSX. It is 6188' long.