Blue Ridge Tunnel
The Blue Ridge Tunnel is the longest of four railway tunnels built through the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap, Virginia. Claudius Crozet designed the passage and directed its construction, which began in 1850 and was completed in 1858. 
The tunnel is four-fifths of a mile (4,281 feet) long and, when completed, was the longest mountain railroad tunnel in the world.  The first rail traffic was on April 13, 1858. The tunnel ceased to carry traffic in 1944 .
The west portal of the tunnel is in Augusta County. The east portal is in Nelson County. The old Blue Ridge Railroad line (now CSX) continued east through western Albemarle County. It ended at Mechum’s River Bridge, near the intersection of Highways 250 and 240. 
Nelson County took the lead in partnering with the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation to transform the Blue Ridge Tunnel from an unused facility into a public attraction. The three county jurisdictions expressed interest in reopening the tunnel as part of a greenway system. Nelson County, owner of the tunnel, applied for a $1 million transportation enhancement grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2010 to renovate the tunnel . The work involved adding parking lots, walking trails and removal of two bulkheads built in the 1950's when the tunnel was considered for natural gas storage.
Phase one began in 2014 with $749,149 in funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation's "Transportation Alternatives" grant. The second phase cost $3.7 million. The third phase cost $1.3 million and restored the west side of the tunnel. 
The Commonwealth of Virginia hired Claudius Crozet as the Blue Ridge Railroad’s chief engineer in 1849, one year before construction began.  Irish immigrants performed most of the work. During an 1854 labor shortage, the state rented the labor of about thirty-three enslaved men for toil in the Blue Ridge Tunnel. About 100 local white men also worked in the tunnel for brief periods of time. 
The state rented the labor of additional enslaved men to build and maintain track beds as Claudius Crozet rushed toward completion of a temporary line over Rockfish Gap in 1853.  Most of the temporary track traveled through the counties of Nelson and Albemarle, covering terrain that Claudius Crozet once described as “dangerous ground.” The temporary track opened in April 1854. It bypassed the incomplete Blue Ridge Tunnel, two other passages still under construction, and a difficult stretch known as “Kelly’s Cut.” The track operated until a predominantly Irish work force finished the permanent line in 1858. 
To blast the four Blue Ridge Railroad tunnels, teams of two men hand-drilled four-foot-long bits through the rock. Then they inserted black powder in the resulting holes and lit the fuse. . A group called Clann Mhór sought to build a memorial for these courageous workers between 2010 and 2015 but were unsuccessful. Nelson County’s goal is adding the Blue Ridge Tunnel to the National Register of Historic Places.  
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- Blue Ridge Railroad payrolls. Blue Ridge Railroad Papers. Library of Virginia; Lyons (2012, 2022). Blue Ridge Railroad Community Dataset.
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- Web. Clann Mhór Seeks Memorial to Blue Ridge Tunnel Builders, Mike Marshall, Crozet Gazette, Crozet Gazette, May 6, 2011
- Web. Project underway to add Claudius Crozet’s Blue Ridge Tunnel to National Register of Historic Places, Marissa Hermanson, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, December 26, 2012, retrieved January 2, 2013.