The Black Valley Railroad

 The Everett area holds some obscure history. History that you probably don't read about in the school's local history classes, and mostly ignored by most local historians. Among the many obscure things, is the railroad that once went through Black Valley.

 As of yet, I am unable to find out what the "official" name of this line was. I've seen it referred to as the "Black Valley Central", but I feel that this was most likely a pun in reference to the mighty New York Central Railroad of the same time period. What is known, is that when the right-of-way was first mapped out and purchased in 1870, it was dubbed the "Juniata and Potomac Railroad", after the Juniata and Potomac Railroad Company that was chartered for it. This was not to be, however. The businessmen involved in the project instead decided to divert their funding to a line that ran from the Mt. Dallas area on the west side of Everett, to Bedford, and south to Bridgeport on through to the Maryland line. This became the Bedford and Bridgeport Railroad, and later the "PRR - Bedford Division", and that's another story entirely. It may have been anticipated that the J&P would eventually connect to the B&B upon the completion of both lines, or even just the H&BT across the river. Just a guess, however.

 Everett merchants were still interested in making their town a seat of iron manufacture, taking advantage of the local deposits of coal, iron ore, and limestone, coupled with the convenient local railroad service of the Huntingdon & Broad Top Railroad in the borough, not to mention the Bedford & Bridgeport railroad that was under construction on the opposite side of the river. Thus, in 1874, the Everett Furnace Company was established. One of the first things accomplished was the purchasing of the railroad right-of-way of the Juniata and Potomac Railroad that was surveyed and never built a few years earlier. Work was started and completed from the future site of the furnace (present-day location of the Everett Turnpike Maintenance Shed and police barracks) to about 6 miles out the valley, although it is not known exactly when. It does look as though the railroad was finished and running way before the furnace was even started, in 1884. If this is the case, then the railroad was probably used to transport iron ore, limestone, lumber, and sand to various markets in Everett, and of course to the H&BT railroad. There were more than likely a few small iron furnaces operating before the big one was completed, that made use of the ore.

 The blast furnace, apparently known as the "Everett Iron Company" once completed, and also referred to in some texts as the "Everett Iron Works", was finally put into blast in 1884. It didn't last very long before it fell into the hands of a receiver, and thus was shut down only a year later. It was then purchased by Joseph Earlston Thropp, and put back into blast by 1890 as the "Earlston Furnace" (also known as the "Everett Furnace"), and thus begins the mystery of the railroad through Black Valley. It is known that the failure of the original Everett Iron Company was mostly due to the poor quality of ores that came out of the Black Valley tracts. Thus, when Thropp took over the operation, he had iron ore imported from the Great Lakes region, which was known to be of superior quality for iron manufacture. If this is the case, then what became of the railroad? Was it perhaps torn out, and the railing re-sold, before Thropp bought the operation? Or did it still exist for a while after Thropp had it? Thropp definitely acquired the railroad's right-of-way, as he would frequently try to sell it to the H&BT. But when exactly did it stop being used? When was it taken out?

 I hope to one day be able to answer these questions. For now though, let's check out the traces of the railroad that can still be seen today out the valley. To ease the loading times of the main pages of the tour, the images you initially see are smaller versions of the originals. By clicking on the images, you will be presented with the more detailed, full size version of the image. Also, red lines will point out the railroad right-of-way when necessary.

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