Hawks Nest Tunnel

Fayette Tribune
April 2, 1930


Informal but enthusiastic was the observance of the beginning of actual construction work on the $9,000000 hydro-electric power development of the New-Kanawha Power Co., between Hawks Nest and Gauley. The event was celebrated Sunday when about 200 people gathered at Gauley Junction and witnessed the first moving of dirt on the big project. The affair was by way of honoring O. M. Jones, chief engineer who has been engaged on the engineering problems in connection with the undertaking for the past seven years.

Dr. W. P. Simmons, high official of the power company, presided at the ceremonies. Rev. Wm. Musick, of Gauley Bridge, led a prayer for the success of the project, and Geo. T. Lancaster of the Electro-Metallurgical Co. of Glen Ferris, a subsidiary of the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, delivered the opening address[.]

After describing the dream of 35 years which is culminating in this project, he paid a tribute to Mr. Jones and particularly referred to the vision and foresight of Major Moorehead, [sic] founder of the carbide interests.

T. R. Ragland, of Beckley, original superintendent of the Glen Ferris plant and an associate of Major Morehead, recalled to the minds of the assembled crowd the activities of the past and joined in the tribute to the engineer of the present.

I. Wade Coffman, chairman of the State Public Service Commission, said that West Virginia looks with great favor upon the project and Clyde B. Johnson, attorney for the power company, described in detail the enormous industrial and commercial benefits which he believes will result from this and other enterprises to follow:

For a few minutes the celebration assumed the likeness of a ship launching as the great steam shovel was christened.

Mr. Jones was asked to speak, but characteristically he set aside the opportunity to talk when there was a chance for action at hand. He climbed to the platform of the steam shovel and sent the great prongs into the earth to turn out the first shovelfull [sic] of dirt for the railroad which will run into the power plant. A buffet supper was later served by the power companies employees at the Glen Ferris Inn.

Contract for the dam in New River at Hawks Nest and the three mile tunnel under Gauley mountain has been let to Rinehart and Dennis, Charlottesville contractors, for $4,225,737. Terms provide for completion by March 13, 1932.

The first task of the contractor will be the construction of about 10 miles of railway along the north side of New River from Hawks Nest to Gauley Junction. Work will go forward at several points as soon as steam shovels can be placed. Shovels began operation at Gauley and Hawks Nest Monday morning. Clearing of the right of way will give employment to a large force at once. There is a plentiful supply of labor, the contractor paying 30 cents an hour for 8 hour shifts.

Many buildings are being constructed at Gauley and Hawks Nest to serve for housing labor storage and work shops. A fully equipped hospital will be maintained by the contractor. Several hundred men will be employed on the work for two years. Every minute detail of the undertaking has been worked out in advance by the engineering department under the direction of Chief Jones.

The New-Kanawha Power Company is a subsidiary of the Union Carbide and Carbon Company, parent of the Electro-Metallurgical Company and the Carbide and Carbon Chemicals corporation and other concerns. The electric power is being developed to supply these two companies and the new plant the Electro Metallurgical is building at Boncar.


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