Mendota Trail history is something that comes up in conversations often. Our Mendota Trail community sometimes offers photographs or bits of history of the Mendota Trail such as this one that shows a Norfolk & Western train headed up the gorge. Look closely! You’ll see the water tower where the train stopped and took on additional water to ensure adequate steam power for the steep incline of the gorge. Today the tower is gone, but we can still see bits of its infrastructure.

Unfortunately, I do not know who to credit for this photograph. If you know, please comment so we can give credit.

The train pictured above is not the one in the article below. However, since the photograph was taken in Phillips near Curve 21, it sets the stage for the article. It’s also timely as there is so much trestle restoration activity currently going on in the gorge.

Taken from The Big Stone Gap Post dated July 30, 1929.


Engineer R.P. Mullins Is Slightly Injured Near Mendota, Va.

Mendota Va., July 26 – A southern freight train on the Appalachia division wrecked one and one half miles east of Mendota on curve “Twenty One” at the foot of the gorge this afternoon at 4:20 pm. Engineer R. P. Mullins was slightly scalded when his engine turned on its side, while Fireman Leonard who was on the side toward which it turned saved himself by jumping just before the locomotive turned.
Nine coal cars and one fruit car were telescoped and almost completely ruined. It is reported that this was a test run for the locomotive after being in the shop for extensive changes and repairs. Besides the regular crew, trainmaster, T. R. Good, and road foreman of engines, D. T. Dickert, were on the wrecked train. They escaped injury by being in the caboose at the time they left the rail. It is thought that by the use of two wreckers the road will be cleared by noon Saturday. The damage can be hardly estimated as a great amount of track is torn up due to the pony tracks of the engine leaving the rail for some distance and the damage to the locomotive cannot be ascertained as it is ploughed into a bank.

Hope you enjoyed this Mendota Trail History.