VIDEO: Looking for a weekend adventure? The Blue Ridge Tunnel in Afton Mountain
When the Blue Ridge Tunnel was built through Afton Mountain in the 1850s, it was the longest railroad tunnel in the world. Recently restored, it is now the centerpiece of one of America’s most unique trails.
The famous engineer Claudius Crozet oversaw the tunnel’s construction and boldly excavated on both the Augusta County and Nelson County sides of the mountain simultaneously, confident the two holes would eventually meet in the middle.
Built by hundreds of Irish immigrants and local enslaved Virginians, the work was dangerous indeed. Accidents and cholera claimed the lives of nearly 200 workers and their families. After almost seven years, the two sides finally met in December 1856. Trains first rolled through the 4,264–foot-long tunnel in 1858.
The Blue Ridge Tunnel remained in operation until 1944. Nelson County had long sought to convert the site into a trail and eventually funding for the project was secured through multiple sources including the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The 2.3-mile trail opened to the public in November. More information about the tunnel and trail may be found by clicking here: