Hawks Nest Tunnel

Fayette Tribune
August 19, 1931

Governor Conley Attends Tunnel Celebration

West Virginians, both prominent in private and public life, joined Wednesday afternoon with the personnel of power and contracting companies organizations in a celebration of the practical completion of the water diversion tunnel between Hawks Nest and Gauley.

More than a thousand invited guests gathered at the commodious club house at Lovers Leap to hear and participate in the program which continued from four o'clock in the afternoon until midnight.

Governor Wm. G. Conley, I. Wade Coffman, chairman of the public service commission; G. H. Davis, vice president of the New-Kanawha Power company, and Hollis Dennis of the contracting firm which is installing the hydro-electric power development immediately above the junction of the New and Gauley rivers, made addresses. Other features of the program were music by the Gill and Schadel orchestras and dancing by the Haviland sisters of Charleston.

A dinner served following the entertainment features, was novel to the majority of the guests. The Lovers Leap club house is a large stone building of Old English design. It occupies a site on the crest of a mountain overlooking New River gorge, more than one thousand feet below. At this point the dam of the New-Kanawha Power company which will divert the waters of New river through a 30 feet tunnel to a point three and one quarter miles below will be built. There, at the lower end of the tunnel the celebration was held.

Amid the wild beauty of the New river mountains under the canopy of arching forest trees two tables, 100 feet in length had been set off for the day's visitors. At six o'clock the guests were invited to dinner. As they approached the tables they passed the scene of the barbecue where over a trench six feet deep and 100 feet long, with smouldering fires in its depths animals were being roasted or barbecued whole. Mutton, pork and roast ox constituted the principle part of the menu, garnished with many appetizing accessories.

Beginning at eight o'clock there was dancing at the club house and this continued until midnight.

Big Project Costing Nine Million

Facts relating to the history and objects of this monumental construction project were told the assembled hearers by the various speakers. It was stated that the dam, tunnel and power houses and incidentals expenditure will total $9,000,000. The dam across New river at Hawks Nest will divert the larger part of the streams' water through the tunnel which is 16250 feet in length. The lower, or western end of the tunnel is a short distance east of Gauley Bridge on the Midland trail, about here an immense power plant having a capacity of developing 100000 horsepower in electricity will be constructed. The power will be used in developing the natural resources in the southern section of West Virginia. It will be available for commercial use at low rates to consumers. The engineering feat of boring the two sections of the tunnel which on August 6, were "broken through into each other within an inch of the calculated direction,["?] is considered a remarkable engineering feat. The completed section of the tunnel is 15,368 feet long. The borings were started at opposite ends. It was the job of the engineers in charge to make such accurate calculations and measurements that the tunnel sections would meet in both grade and on one center line. An added difficulty was a curve in one tunnel section; another was that the ground under which the tunnel runs is so rough that it was found impossible to measure a line directly above the borings. O. M. Jones, chief engineer for the New-Kanawha Power company, R. E. Buckley, construction engineer, and P. J. Welsone, designing engineer, were given credit in some of the speeches for surmounting this difficult obstacle. Governor Conley stated that the successful completion of the tunnel section is a greater engineering feat than the boring of the water supply tunnel under the Hudson river in New York city.

Highly Commended

Clifford Waugh, J. Gooch and John Bolton, men who drove the work through in record time, day and night, under the supervision of Robert Perkins, Harry Faulconer and Linwood Faulconer, division superintendents, were highly commented [sic] by company officials.

The total number of cubic yards removed from the tunnel to date is given as 507,336. One day and night of a tunnel crew "drove" one of the heading 120 feet in six days. This was mentioned as a remarkable feat. This is a demonstration of "the real men" who have helped put this job through" as one of the speakers remarked. The first tunnel heading was begun June 13, 1930, and the second September 25, 1930.

Among those present on the speaker's rostrom [sic] were Governor Conley, former Congressman J. Alfred Taylor, State Senator Clyde B. Johnson; G. H. Davis, vice president of the New-Kanawha Power company; Hollis Rinehart, of the contracting firm of Rinehart and Dennis, of Charlottesville, Va; T. H. Faulconer, president of the same company; and E. J. Perkins, vice president; O. M. Jones, chief engineer and P. J. Welsone, designing engineer; A. Stokes, an attorney whose residence is in Virginia made the address of welcome for the contracting company. His talk was well received. O. M. Jones was toastmaster.

Work on the construction projects is being pushed. Practical completion is expected within another year.


West Virginia Archives and History