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JTPX 5022 is a GP-35 blt 1966 returned to Joeseph Transportation
 

JTPX 5012 is a GP-38AC blt 1970
 

JTPX 5011 is a GP-38-2 blt 1975
BER 01 former WNR is a SW-1500 blt 1967

Special thanks to Ron Gallamore for the information.

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   The Story

The Winifrede Railroad had is beginnings in 1850 when Ralph Swinburn, an assistant to John Stevens was instructed by the Fields Creek Coal Company to build a coal hauling railroad up Fields Creek. He build a gravity type railroad with timber ties topped with wood covered in metal strapping. When a run was SW-100 @ the Head of the Hollow (w/tipple in background). Taken By: Frank Armentrout complete, oxen were used to pull the cars back to the mines.  About the time of the Civil War, the railroad changed its name to Winifrede  Mining and Manufacturing Company. After the rails underwent massive reconstruction, the Winifred Railroad operated with profit for the next  50 years. It closed for the first time in 1920's, because of the declining coal market, but reopened in 1930 as the Winifrede Collieries. It then operated until, once again a declining coal market forced them to close in the  late 1980's. In 2000-2001 it has opened once more as the Big Eagle Railroad; the Winifred Railroad can be proud of its 150 year history.

I heard a story the other day about my brother-in-law's father (Everett), who was in charge of cutting up #9. He said that it took them a month or so to cut the engine up, and when they were working on the last piece a gentleman from out of state came by. Guess what he was there for? He wanted to purchase the engine! Everett said the man almost cried right there on the spot.
I can only imagine...  

The Big Eagle Railroad, its a group out of Abington, VA running the project. They leased the rails from the Kanawha Rail Corp.

If you do know anything about the railroad or have some pictures, please send them to me and I will add them. Also, if you have any questions please feel free to write. Check to the left for up to date news.

   Photos
 

 

 
 

More Photos

Old Photos

New Photos

Number 10 presumably waiting for the scrappers torch. Bill Sparkmon

Number 9 switching cars at the river terminal. Engineer is Harry Rhodes. Bill Sparkmon

Winifrede depot - early. Bill Sparkmon

"Water Plug" Winfrede #8, ex-C&O #988.

JTPX 2012 moving loads down to the switch. Frank Armentrout

JTPX 2012 bringing empties back. Frank Armentrout

BER 01 Moving loads to the river. Frank Armentrout

JTPX 2012 Waiting to get a load below the tipple. Frank Armentrout

Shifting in the morning! Frank Armentrout

Reciving Orders. Frank Armentrout

 

  Winifrede Railroad: A History

Winifrede Railroad Company was incorporated on November 16, 1881.  But its story begins 30 years earlier.  Coal was mined on Fields Creek in the first half of the 19th century on a limited scale.  The horse and wagon was used to transport the product to local residents along the Kanawha River.  In the early 1840s, the Winifrede Mining and Manufacturing Company, an English syndicate, acquired leases on Fields Creek and expansion began.

A narrow gauge railroad was constructed using wooden rails; the coal from the Winifrede mines was loaded in wood side-dump cars and dropped by gravity to the Kanawha River.  Wood chutes then conveyed the coal to river barges.  Mules or oxen pulled the cars back to the mines for reloading.  In 1851, Daniel O'Connor, co-owner and president of the Winifrede Mining and Milling Company, met Ralph Swinburne, while on a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio.  Swinburne a civil engineer as well as a locomotive engineer had just recently emigrated from England.  There he had worked with George Stephenson, know as the inventor of the steam railroad locomotive.  Swinburne actually ran Stephenson's first locomotive as engineer and was superintendent of the railroad.   After a discussion of his experiences with the first railroad in England, Swinburne accepted OConnors offer to come to West Virginia to build a railroad on Fields Creek.  

It was February, 1851, when Swinburne began the building of a railroad from the Winifrede mines to the Kanawha River. (It is believed that Winifrede mining and Manufacturing, and later the town was named for O'Connor's daughter, Winifrede.)  According to historian Phil Conley in his publication "The West Virginia Review" this was the first railroad built in southern West Virginia.  In fact, it may be claimed to be the first completed railroad in the entire State.  The Baltimore and Ohio entered the State in 1838 but was not completed until 1852.  The Chesapeake and Ohio was not completed through the Kanawha Valley until 1873.

 Winifrede Railroad was built with 56-pound steel spiked to wooden ties.  Shortly after the completion of the railroad, a small steam locomotive was shipped from England arriving on a flat boat from Cincinnati.  The locomotive was designed by Stephenson and weighed only 15 tons.  Swinburne supervised the assembly of the engine, put it on line at Winifrede Junction and trained the first engineer.  

In the early 1860s a group of Philadelphia entrepreneurs acquired the Winifrede properties and the Winifrede Railroad and purchased 15,000 acres of coal and timberland on the headwaters of Fields Creek.  They organized the Winifrede Coal Company to carry out the coal operations.  

During the Civil War and into the 1870s the mines were not operated and the railroad tracks and ties rusted and rotted away.  In the late 1870s, Winifrede Coal Company began to recover and work commenced to rebuild the railroad.  Winifrede Railroad Company received a charter as a separate organization on November 16, 1881.   The Railroad was of standard gauge (4'8 1/2"inches) with 56-pound steel rails.  It linked the Winifrede Mines to Winifrede Junction, a distance of about six miles, connecting there with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.  A second-hand locomotive was purchased from M. Colwell & Canning for $4,500.   However, within 15 months a new 45-ton Baldwin locomotive was purchased for $12,500.  A passenger car was bought from Mepro Jackson & Sharpe Company of Delaware for $1,200 and 60 six-ton coal cars from Mepro McKee Fuller & Company, Pennsylvania at a total cost of $15,600.  Also reported in the September 1882 report  the construction of a tipple upon the Kanawha River. "It is the finest structure of its kind.  It works in every way satisfactory to our General Manager, and lowers with ease six ton dump cars within a foot of the barge, thus delivering the coal without breakage."  

The same report stated "The C&O has established a station at the junction of their road with ours, and named the same 'Winifrede Junction.'  A telegraph office is located there.  Communication by telephone between the station at the river and the store near the mines has been established.  The Winifrede carried 1,271 passengers and 12,512 tons of coal that first year after incorporation.  

In 1888 improvements included the construction of a car repair shop, the investment in a turntable, and the purchase of one new locomotive and more coal cars.  The following year, 1889, a traffic contract was entered into between the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway Company, and the Winifrede Railroad, for the shipment of coal to Chicago and the northwest.  A trust agreement was negotiated for the purchase of 500 cars, which in turn were leased to the other railway for these shipments.  

Ten years after the incorporation, business was well established.  The railroad carried 272,314 tons of coal and 13,224 passengers in 1899.  During 1902-3, the Railroad replaced the 56-pound rail with 85-pound rail.  During this time the Railroad also sold to Winifrede Coal Company the river tipple located on the Kanawha River.  By 1906, the Winifrede Railroad had rolling stock consisting of two locomotives, 235 six-ton coal cars, one passenger car, two flats, two box and one dump car.  Buildings consisted of an engine house, machine shop, repair shop and blacksmith shop.  There were 7 1/2 miles of mainline and 3 miles of siding.  The Railroad also had a contract to deliver the mail from Lewiston to the Winifrede Post Office.     

There were many shortline railroads built in southern West Virginia during the latter half of the 19th century, but Winifrede Railroad is one of the few which survived.  A copy of the Official Guide indicated that there were three trains scheduled which made the 7.2 mile run in 30 minuets.  At first they made connections with the C&O and river steamers to Charleston and Point Pleasant and later to C&O and Charleston Interurban Railroad.

In a good year, when the Winifrede Coal Company mines worked regularly, the average amount of coal hauled by the railroad was 210,000 tons.  Beginning in 1910, the Railroad began replacing the 6- to 7- ton cars with 30-ton second-hand steel cars. Also in 1910 a new Baldwin 70-ton steam locomotive became the main motive power.  In 1915, Winifrede Coal built a new steel tipple at Winifrede Junction.  In 1922, the Railroad purchased 60 steel double hopper cars of 50-ton capacity.  

Winifrede Railroad served the Winifrede Coal Company until the mid-1920s, when due to the declining coal market the coal operations and the Railroad were forced to close.  The Railroad retained its charter and was back in business again in 1930 when Winifrede Collieries acquired the Winifrede properties.   In 1931, David P. Morgan wrote an article about shortline railroads in which he devoted a good portion of the account to the Winifrede Railroad.  "The 6.75 mile coal hauler enjoys a fidelity to its corporate name that puts many a trunk line to shame, for it operated between Winifrede Junction, West Virginia and Winifrede, the former site is on the main line of the Chesapeake & Ohio  and the banks of the Kanawha River.  Locomotion is supplied by nos. 9 and 10, a pair of Richmond-built engines.

"Winifrede's engines are dapper machines; compact, gutty, even handsome in a very solid sort of way.  Up front, the headlight is off center in a small smokebox  door, giving the engine a smart look, and illuminated number boards, fat domes and small cab, and a comparatively huge track extend such an initial impression.  Mounting footboards on pilot and tank, the 9 and 10 looked quite capable of hauling out any tonnage of coal that their owner might be able to produce."

When it merged with Winifrede Collieries in 1955, Carbon Fuel Company acquired Winifrede Railroad Company and Winifrede Company.  Although Carbon preferred to keep steam engines operating, they were faced with the difficulty of getting parts to maintain them.  Therefore, shortly after acquisition, Carbon began a study to determine the number and size of diesel-electric locomotives required to haul the expected tonnage.  A General Electric 70-ton, 720 horsepower diesel electric was purchased and 85-pound steel rails were replaced with 100-pound steel tracks.  

Since 1955, the Winifrede Railroad has transported over 20 million tons of coal. It has utilized eleven steam and two diesel-electric locomotives.  There are seven miles of main line track with a total of 14 miles trackage.    Until it closed in 1988, the Winifrede Railroad Company operated with 10 employees, a 1500 h.p. Diesel-electric locomotive, and 180 50- and 70-ton steel hopper cars.  

David Morgan's account provides a tribute to the Winifrede Railroad of 1931 that is nearly appropriate today:  "It goes to work with the sun and by eventide there's not much to do....but lock up the engine.  At night, everyone sleeps, including the motive power.  Small Time? Yes. Insignificant, No. A railroad - any railroad- lends substance and maturity to a community.  A railroad is something tangible, a roadbed and ties and rails leading out through the winding, shady glen toward an oblivious and important world beyond.  A railroad is married to the earth, and the track tells of locomotives and trains whether there is engine exhaust and whistling to be heard or not."

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