In the late 1800s, trains were transforming passenger and freight around the world, the railways usually creating a promising future for any town they served.
Rural Westmoreland was sure to benefit—well most of Westmoreland would, except for George Minnick. The proposed route up the hilly ridge was going to cut his property in half, and he’d have no way to get cows from one field to the other.
The Chesapeake and Nashville Railroad Company bore into the issue, and soon there was a light at the end of the tunnel for Minnick and his cattle. The construction crew decided to trench the bed for the railway except for one part, where only a tunnel would cut through the rock leaving, about a 45-foot-wide crossing undisturbed.
The railroad line was open for about 90 years, carrying timber, farm produce, and passengers destined for the nearby sulfur spring. But with little other business or tracks connecting north of Westmoreland, the line was abandoned by 1976 and eventually the rails were taken up. The Little Tunnel was neglected, and eventually the road across it was deemed unsafe and barricaded until extensive renovations were made to preserve this tidbit of transportation trivia. The one-lane road is now open for traffic, and gawkers can stare into the trench from a sidewalk on both the north and south sides.
Know Before You Go
Tunnel Road isn't the shortest road in the world but it's only a couple hundred yards long so blink and you'll miss it! Turn off highway 52 at Sumner Drive and turn left at the end of the block. There is no parking place for a car, the property on either side is private so you might leave your vehicle at a nearby business and enjoy a little walk to the little tunnel. A fence now exists in the old rail bed but you can get really close if you dare, no trains to worry about but the trail is very steep. If you find an unhappy landowner looking at you don't dare ask if they will let you borrow a measuring tape.