DINGESS — On Wednesday, June 24, the West Virginia Legislature commemorated the history of the Dingess Tunnel by having signs placed by the West Virginia Division of Highways that read “Historic Dingess Tunnel, Contructed 1892” at each end.
The signs were unveiled at 5:30 p.m. in a ceremony Wednesday evening. Mingo County Delegate Justin Marcum, State Senator Art Kirkendoll and Mingo County Commissioner John Mark Hubbard attended the event.
There is more than 100 years of history associated with the Dingess tunnel, which is located in the Old Norfolk & Western Railroad Bed Road in Dingess. It was constructed in 1892 as the only way in and out for trains in the area. It has been a vital artery to the coal industry, opening up the area to a vast amount of coal mining and commerce. The tunnel has been an asset to all of Southern WV as an avenue of transportation for thousands of tons of coal and other goods. It allowed thousands of tons of coal to be mined, thus allowing the employment of thousands of hard working coal miners.
The Dingess Tunnel was constructed by largely by immigrant workers who decided to remain in Mingo County upon its completion and many of those workers gave their lives for the construction of the tunnel. At least ten railroaders lost their lives in two separate train collisions not long after the tunnel was put in use for the railroad.
The historic tunnel began being used as a highway tunnel in 1914, and allowed many immigrants to ability to access the very diverse terrain on the other side of the mountain. The tunnel has also been vital to the timber and gas industry, as it opened up the surrounding area to development.
The one mile long tunnel has been featured in many national publications as “America’s Bloodiest Tunnel” and it has ties to the world-famous Hatfield & McCoy Feud.