West Virginia Central & Pittsburgh Railway
The construction of a railroad from Piedmont up the North Branch of the Potomac to tap the undeveloped resources of Randolph County (later Mineral County) was proposed long before it was accomplished. The Potomac & Piedmont Coal & Railroad Company, incorporated by the legislature in 1866 and begun in 1880, secured a new charter on June 25, 1881 under its new name, the West Virginia Central & Pittsburgh Railway Company. The railroad company was organized with Henry G. Davis as the line's president, and Davis' son-in-law, Stephen B. Elkins, serving as the line's vice-president.
On November 2, 1881, the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railway completed lines to the company's coal mine at Elk Garden, and in January of 1882, the line was opened to traffic. This gave the WVC&P a twelve-mile line that provided the company with an outlet for its coal, via a connection with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) at Piedmont.
In 1883, the WVC&P acquired two coal wharves in Baltimore, Maryland (MD), and was shipping 1,000 tons of Potomac coal daily over its lines. By 1884, the WVC&P's new extensions had passed over the divide beyond the headwaters of the Potomac, continuing south of the Great Backbone Mountains to Davis, in the heart of the hard wood forest. Early in 1889 the main line of the road, following the waters of the wild and picturesque Blackwater Run, was completed down the Dry Fork through the mountain gap to Parsons on the main branch of the Cheat; and, later in the yar, after turning up Shaver's Fork for a short distance, it crossed to Leading Creek and reached picturesque Elkins (previously known as Leadville), where terminal facilities were established.
From Elkins, by gradual extensions, one branch followed up the Valley River, sending off a smaller branch at Roaring Creek, five miles west of Elkins. By 1891, trains were running on extensions to Beverly, and to Belington, where connection was made with a Tygarts Valley branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) from Grafton.
As the railroad's lines were built, several new towns were created, most of which were named for company officers or person associated with the railroad or its mining interests. Such towns so established included Shaw, Bayard, Blaine, Hambleton, Hendricks, Thomas, Henry, Gormania, Davis, Kerens, Barnum and Elkins.
The WVC&P comtemplated building another line from Belington to Clarksburg, to connect with the West Virginia & Pennsylvania Railroad that had been surveyed from Clarksburg to Brownsville, but these plans were later abandoned.
In 1884, to build a line from Elkins to Durbin, where a connection could be made with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O), the WVC&P chartered a new railroad company, the Coal & Iron Railroad (C&I), to undertake the construction of the route. In 1886, the company added the Cumberland & Piedmont Railroad to its network of railroads. Soon afterwards, in 1888, the railroad's coal interests were reorganized into the Davis Coal & Coke Company, headquartered in Piedmont, and Marshall Coal & Lumber Company, with its headquarters at Davis.
This Coal & Iron line ran eastward from Elkins to Shavers Fork, which it ascended until finding a way through Shavers Mountains, crossed to Glady Fork, ascended it to the divide and descended the West Fork of the Greenbrier River to Durbin, in Pocahontas County. The C&I's line to Durbin was constructed between 1900 and 1903, and opened for traffic in 1904.