West Portal of Indigo Tunnel/B130.1


West Portal of Indigo Tunnel/B130.1





Indigo Tunnel was built in 1904. The drilling equipment was barged in on the adjacent C&O Canal. The tunnel was drilled at a length of 4,350 ft. just short of one mile. The gray slate from the tunnel was hauled out during drilling and dumped at the west portal making a large flat area. There was a eastbound signal here #130.1 along with a phone box. On the east end there was a phone booth and a westbound signal, now all gone.

During construction of Western Maryland's Indigo Tunnel, a man who was working in the tunnel was injured when a timber fell on him. The man ended up in the hospitial and lost his leg. He later lived in Little Orleans after leaving the hospital. He worked for the Western Maryland as a "portal man" for 10 years in the very same tunnel where he had lost his leg. The man was replaced by his son, after difficulties incountered while working with a missing leg. The man's son worked the night shift as portal man at WM's Indigo Tunnel for over 44 years. He was responsible for maintaining the track in the tunnel, keeping them free of rocks and debris that may have fallen. One particular day during a severe downpour the man had checked one end of the tunnel and was at the other end when he heard a "terrific racket" at the end of the tunnel he had just checked. It turned out that a approaching train had hit a rock slide. The train had wrecked and the man was blamed for the accident. However, he was later cleared after an investigation proved "he could not have been at fault."


Construction work at what will be the west portal of WM's Indigo Tunnel. Bouring equipment for the tunnel was barged in on the nearby C&O Canal. This photo probaly dates back to late 1903 or early 1904. The second photo is at the same location on June 24, 1996. The trees are getting bigger and bigger here and are beginning to take over and hide the portal. The WM also had a telephone call box here beside signal 130.1.

After exiting the tunnel walking west during the C&O Canal Associations Annual Heritage Hike on November 6, 2004 I came upon this retaining wall made from trees. This side of the tunnel used to be full of water but somebody built this wall and dug out the shale that had filled the ditch in. Having done this the water has since drained and the tunnel is now dry inside. This sorta thing would work perfectly at Kessler Tunnel where there is alot of standing water.


story from railfan

A WM trackman I used to know told me when he first went to work on the RR he lived on one side of the mountain and reported to work on the other side. Rather than drive his car to work he called the dispatcher and walked thru the tunnel when no trains were comming. It was long enough and had enough curve to be dark but he could still see the rails enough to walk, may have been Indigo but I am not sure. His territory started at the other end of the tunnel and went away from the tunnel so he never had cause to work in the tunnel or ride thru it. This went on for several years. One day a train was stopped at the tunnel as he was starting to walk to work and the engineer asked him what he was doing. When he said he was walking to work the engineer ask him if he was completely out of his mind. His response was no, why? The engineer told him the tunnel was a rattle snake den and was full of snakes. They saw them in the headlight. The trackman did not beleive the engineer so the engineer insisted he ride with them to the other end and he would slow down enough to let him off. Sure enough the tunnel was full of rattle snakes from one end to the other. Needless to say the trackman drove to work every day for the rest of his career! He worked in Hagerstown for years before he retired.



The west portal of the tunnel looking at is and looking west from atop it on May 19, 2005.

Inside the tunnel the first few feet has a concrete lining while the rest is open to the rock. (May 19, 2005)

Inside the tunnel on May 19, 2005.



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