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A Hand Carved Safety Alcove

Central Station, WV, United States
23 Kudos
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Imagine that you are an employee of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad in the 1890s. Now, imagine that your boss has told you that you will be working deep inside the Central Station Tunnel in West Virginia. Perhaps you are going to be repairing the stonework in there. Or perhaps you are going to be cleaning debris off of the tracks. Either way, you do not want to be stuck in this tunnel when a train comes through.

Or, imagine that you are a farm laborer in West Virginia in the 1890s. In order to get from farm to farm, you will need to either climb over the large hill between West Union and Central Station or hike through the Central Station Tunnel. Again, you do not want to be stuck in this tunnel when a train comes through.

To combat this safety hazard, the B&O Railroad constructed safety alcoves in all of the tunnels on the Parkersburg Branch between Grafton and Parkersburg. Most of these alcoves are uniform in appearance. They were lined with brick and have an arch shape.

Imagine my surprise when I found some hand-carved safety alcoves in the Central Station Tunnel. Clearly, these alcoves do not follow the standardized plan. They appeared to have been carved either by railroad employees, or perhaps by locals who needed to hike through the tunnel on a regular basis many decades ago.

These hand-carved safety alcoves are located deep inside the tunnel - just about in the middle. Thus, they are nearly 1/4 of a mile from either portal. Apparently, whoever carved them did not think that the railroad had provided enough safety alcoves. I am curious who carved them and when they did it. I am always fascinated by historical mysteries such as these non-standard safety alcoves.
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