The Norfolk & Western Historical Society’s newest Branch Line Series book uses 248
pages, 93 photographs, 62 drawings and 27 maps to tell how the W.M. Ritter Lumber
Company built its narrow-gauge Big Sandy & Cumberland logging railroad from Devon, West
Virginia to Grundy, Virginia between 1900 and 1916, how the lumber company extended its
logging railroad along the Levisa Fork between 1918 and 1925, and how the N&W acquired
the narrow-gauge common carrier and logging railroad in 1923 and made it the basis of the
standard gauge Buchanan and Levisa Branch Lines.
The N&W purchased the BS&C in 1923 and reconstructed parts of the original BS&C and
the W.M. Ritter Lumber Company logging railroad between 1928 and 1931 to standard gauge.
In addition to the reconstructed narrow gauge railroad, the N&W constructed the Devon Tunnel
and Raitt Tunnel and built a new railroad along Lester Fork and Home Creek during the 1928 -
1931 time period. The reconstructed narrow-gauge BS&C and the new railroad through Devon
Tunnel and Raitt Tunnel became the original Buchanan Branch and the Levisa Branch. The
Buchanan Branch Extension and the Dismal Creek Branch were built in 1936.
The coal industry started on the newly built Buchanan and Levisa branches in 1932 and
expanded eastward on the Buchanan Branch and Dismal Creek Branch in 1935 and 1936.
The coal industry expanded west along the Levisa Fork into Pike County, Kentucky with the
Levisa Branch Extension in 1944. As the coal industry grew the Buchanan - Levisa - Dismal
Creek Branches also grew as spurs were built to reach new coal operations. Between 1966
and 1969 the N&W built the Wyatt Cut-Off to connect the Buchanan and Dismal Creek
Branches with the Clinch Valley District to provide a shorter route to Lamberts Point and the
tidewater coal piers
Buchanan - Levisa - Dismal Creek ~ Norfolk & Western Branch Lines is about how a
narrow-gauge logging railroad was built and then reconstructed into three standard gauge
branch lines of the N&W to serve the timber and coal industry that developed along the railroad.
Details are provided on the locations of each lumber mill and coal loading operation that was
established on the original logging railroad and the N&W’s branch lines. The fully-indexed
book covers the time period 1898 to 2016, including the rise and fall of the coal industry. It
includes many unpublished photographs on the BS&C and the N&W. Nine appendices add
much detailed information on the BS&C and the N&W’s early interest in routes into Buchanan
The Table of Contents page lists the major topics covered in each chapter
Hardcover (first 500, softcover on additional printing), 248 pages
by Alex Schust
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