19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Pine Mountain Mystery

In the backwoods of the Eastern Kentucky mountains, in a little town called Jenkins, there is a trail that leads back along a relatively straight overgrown road way. Follow that for about a mile, and you will come to this magnificent gaping hole in the mountain. The Pine Mountain tunnel. Built in the late 40s by the C&O railroad, it was constructed to access the coal fields in Pound Virginia. Your looking at the Kentucky portal. The Virginia portal is not so fortunate in looks. In construction, a tea, from each state began digging from both sides, and met at the state line in the middle. After construction, one fatal flaw was discovered. They had dug the tunnel across the center of a fault line. This would be the fate of the tunnel a mere decade later in the late 50s. For 10 years, coal trains thundered back and forth through this 3/4ths of a mile long tunnel. Within those 10 years, rockfall after rockfall would occur, and it was so bad by the mid 50s, it was decided that the coal fields within Pound would be hauled by truck instead of train, as the tunnel was clear to be unstable and in poor condition. With modern day technology, it would be maintainable, but back then, it was impossible. The last person to walk through it, reported in 2012, that there were several rockfalls, and a portion where he had to devise a way to swim across. He also reported rats as big as dogs, and solid white, as they never have seen the light of day. The tunnel has been forgotten by most, and I hope to keep it alive..

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 06.2021
Date Uploaded: 07.2021
Photo Location: Jenkins, Ky, United States of America
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX530 HS
Copyright: © Micah Turner