Blue Ridge Tunnel rededicated as historical civil engineering landmark

Blue Ridge Tunnel
Blue Ridge Tunnel
Published: Jun. 4, 2022 at 9:33 PM EDT
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NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - One hundred sixty four years after its completion of the Blue Ridge Tunnel is having a rededication as one of Virginia’s Civil Engineering Landmarks.

“In this case, we have the longest railroad tunnel at the time 1858 when it was completed,” Bernie Dennis with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said.

The 4,273 foot tunnel was the longest in the U.S at the time, now it’s a Virginia civil engineering landmark.

“It has to have contributed to the advancement of civil engineering either nationally or regionally, the project must be at least 50 years old and it has to be unique in either being the first or the last remaining example of such a project,” Dennis said.

The tunnel has been closed since 1940, but reopened in November 2020 and since has seen more than 150,000 visitors.

“It was full of mud, there was water, so that all had to be corrected, they had to put a pathway through it. So it’s opened up to the public,” Victor Crawford with the Virginia Section of the ASCE said.

The original historical plaque was placed in the 1970′s, but over time its location was lost.

“They can see the tunnel, the construction, where the picks and the black powder was used to break through the rock. So it’s an educational feature. It’s a public venue for adults and kids,” Dennis said.

The plaque also serves to inspire the next generation of engineers.

“By having the plaque in a very visible location, students walking by can see what we did in the past and be inspired to pursue science, technology, engineering and math as their curriculum and become civil engineers,” Crawford said.

There are six other sites in Virginia that are designated historic civil engineering landmarks.

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