Scans from "West End - Cumberland to Grafton" by Charles S. Roberts available at:
Cheat River Grade
The single track Cheat River Grade begins on the west side of Bridge 92 and runs appox 5 miles up to Blazer, WV. This portion of track is not accessible by vehicles except in Rowlesburg and about a mile west of Rowlesburg at 76 Fill. In Rowlesburg the grade reaches 2% on the west side of the Buffalo Street grade crossing and begins the climb out of the Cheat River Valley. In order to reach the 76 Fill's Carrico Xing, take Rt. 72 left from the intersection mentioned in the Rowlesburg section. Go about 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile until you see a road running up the hill to the track. Take this road and in a very short distance you'll reach the crossing. With photographing eastbound trains, don't cross the track unless you don't care to see the train again until Amblersburg. Other than this crossing, there is no other way to reach the track via a road. A major highlight on this grade is the Tray Run stone arch viaduct. You can see this viaduct from two locations, the first place is right below it on the road. From Rowlesburg take Rt. 72 north for about 1 mile.

Photo taken March/2004 from the roadside below the viaduct. Be careful,
there's no pull-off for autos.

A white sign is enscribed with the history of the viaduct and also lets you know you're approaching it, so look on your left for the valley it crosses. Watch closely or you'll drive right past it - the viaduct is above you and there's no good place to pulloff right in front of it. The road doesn't offer the greatest position for photographs or watching trains but its an interesting historical and scenic highlight. For a better view, head back to Rowlesburg and cross the Cheat River and the Kingwood sub track on County Road 51. After crossing the Kingwood sub, take a left onto County Road 80, the Manheim Road and proceed about 1 mile until you reach the small town of Manheim. From Manheim, you can see the viaduct across the river on the opposite shore. Because of the growth of trees, the best time for photographs is when the leaves are off the trees. You'll need a high powered lense, I'd say greater than a 150* to get a good closeup although lesser powered lenses can accomplish a wider shot. Best time with light on the viaduct is in the morning with the sun to the east, behind you.

......The next valley crossed by the Mountain Subdivision is the steep Tray Run Valley which is bridged by a large stone four arch viaduct. This double track stone structure is the third viaduct to be built over Tray Run in 1907 after the original cast iron bridge was replaced in 1887 with a wrought iron design. During the Civil War the original viaduct was a major target of roving bands of Confederates insurgents and also of the great Jones - Imboden raid of 1863, both of which failed to destroy or even damage the structure resulting in the viaduct being included on the back of West Virginia's state seal.

Caption on lithograph reads: "The Sixteenth Regiment, Ohio Volunteers, under Colonel Irwine, crossing the tray run viaduct, near Cheat River, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. On its way to Rowlesburg, Va., the Sixteenth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers crossed the Tray Run Viaduct, one of the most remarkable engineering works on the whole line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It spans a deep gorge in the mountains six hundred feet in width, and at a height of one hundred and sixty feet above the bed of the ravine. The roadway is supported on iron columns, secured and braced in a peculiar manner, and placed on a solid mass of masonry, which fills up the bottom of the run. The scenery at this point is equal to anything in the world, combining the choicest materials of mountain, forest and river."- Frank Leslie, 1896
Source: Frank Leslie, Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War (New York: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)

lithograph provided by John Pierson
Seen from the northwest, this viaduct carries the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road over Tray (not Troy) Run which flows into the Cheat River, seen to the left of center. Upstream from the viaduct, just out of view to the left, is the town of Rowlesburg, West Virginia.

Jones-Imboden Raids of 1863

With Union troops in control of western Virginia, Confederate leaders chose to harass Union troops and confiscate supplies. In the spring of 1863, General John D. Imboden designed a raid to destroy portions of the B&O Railroad and break up the Restored Government of Virginia in session in Wheeling. With a force of 3,400 men, Imboden marched out from Staunton, Virginia, on April 20. General William E. Jones led a group of 1,300 from Lacey Springs, Virginia, the following day.

Imboden's men marched through Beverly and captured the town of Buckhannon on April 29. Jones joined Imboden at Buckhannon after failing to destroy the B&O line at Rowlesburg in Preston County, capturing Morgantown and destroying the railroad bridge at Fairmont. On May 6, Jones' troops marched from Weston through West Union and Cairo. Three days later, he destroyed 150,000 barrels of oil and the oil works at Burning Springs in Wirt County. On May 14, Jones joined Imboden at Summersville before retreating into Virginia. Although it succeeded in destroying property and industry, driving away livestock, and occupying the attention of Union troops which might have been used elsewhere, the Jones-Imboden Raid failed to destroy significant portions of the B&O or break up the Restored Government of Virginia.

Near Rowlesburg in Preston County, visit the Tray Run Viaduct, constructed prior to 1872. Built for a single railroad track, the curved viaduct had viewing platforms on each side for passengers. This viaduct is pictured on the reverse side of West Virginia's state seal.

The Great Seal and Coat-of-Arms of West Virginia
"...The reverse of the Great Seal is to be encircled by a wreath composed of laurel and oak leaves, emblematical of valor and strength, with fruits and cereals, productions of the state. For device, a landscape. In the distance, on the left of the disc, a wooded mountain, and on the right a cultivated slope with the log farmhouse peculiar to this region. On the side of the mountain, a representation of the viaduct on the line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Preston County, one of the great engineering triumphs of the age, with a train of cars about to pass over it....." by the Honorable Joseph H. Diss Debar of Doddridge County. 1863

Excerpt from Artists' Excursion Over the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road by Porte Crayon (David Hunter Strother)
Harper's New Monthly Magazine-June, 1859

A short call at the "Oakland Mountain House," then a rapid run over Cranberry Summit, and down the mountain for twelve miles, by grades similar to those by which we ascended, brought us to the famous Cheat River, whose amber waters roll through mountain gorges two thousand feet in depth. We have tried our pen on less imposing scenes, but here we are dumb. Possibly we started on too high a key in the outset, like the enthusiastic Frenchman with his "grande! superbe! magnifique!" and, having exhausted our superlatives, have no resource but to shrug our shoulders and say, "Ah, very pretty!"

The Cheat River region is the great scenic lion of the road, as the Tray Run Viaduct is the mechanical wonder. At this last-mentioned point the train laid by for several hours to give the artists, poets, and photographers an opportunity to exercise their faculties. The road here is located along the steep mountain-side, about three hundred feet above the bed of the river. Over a ravine making down at right angles with the main gorge the viaduct in question is constructed, carrying the track 225 feet above its base. The structure is as admirable for its light and graceful form as for its evident strength and the imperishable durability of its material. From the high embankment that overlooks the river one may see the line of the road for some distance up and down; and nowhere else, perhaps, does the result of human labor lose so little in the immediate comparison with the grander works of nature. One wonders alternately at the vastness of the obstacles and the completeness of the achievement in surmounting them.

Painting by Edward Beyer

Tray Run Viaduct (On Cheat River B&O R.R.)
"Is situated in Preston county, one and a half mile west of the Cheat River Crossing, and seventy-seven miles from Cumber-land. The grade of the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road is here 105 feet to the mile. Travelers will find this one of the most romantic scenes on the Road. The Cheat River is winding below on one side-on the other is a beautiful farm, and in the distance, lofty mountains.

"The structure of the Viaduct is of cast iron, connected by wrought iron bolts and rods. They consist of columns inclined so as to give greater width of base and more stability, connected by arches of open work - the whole system firmly united by proper ties. The columns rest on pedestals, supported on the stone walls built across the deep beds of the ravines. The length of the Viaduct is 445 feet, and its height from the top of the wall, 58 feet. The deepest part of the stone wall is about 100 feet. The top of the Bridge is nearly 300 feet from the water. Width on the top between the parapet railings (which are 4 feet high), 28 feet. The floor is of heavy planking between the floor beams supporting the rails.

"This beautiful and substantial Viaduct was designed by Mr. Albert Fink, assistant engineer, and built under the direction of B. H. Latrobe, chief engineer. The cost of this structure was $36,049. The whole of the iron construction was made at the Company's shops at Mount Clare, under the direction of Mr. James Clark."

Illustrated London News: Volume 38 - 1861