A restoration project for a historic piece of Virginia that's been long underway can now launch thanks to some new state funding. Nelson County will convert the Blue Ridge Tunnel from rails to trails starting this fall.
For 12 years, the county has worked on the regional collaborative effort to restore the tunnel, and now that the commonwealth has given almost $750,000 toward this, the dream is starting to look like a reality.
The tunnel, which runs under Afton Mountain, was an engineering marvel when it was completed in the 1850s. Back then, it was a lifeline for trading to other cities, but within a century trains became too big to pass through and the tunnel fell out of use.
There are currently many structural issues to address, but organizers are happy to announce things are moving along.
"Make it a recreational resource for our local people and for people across the country, around the world. It's an incredible recreational resource, historic resource, and unique in the world really," said Nancy Sorrells, on the board of directors for the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation.
The tunnel is currently closed off; trying to enter it now is not only illegal but also very dangerous.