East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

December 2011

Slate in Buckingham County

The Buckingham Branch Railroad leaves the old C&O mainline at Bremo Bluff, crosses the James River, then runs southwest through large slate deposits.

Down close to the river is a Solite Plant, where slate is milled into granules and then dehydrated. The granules are the “cinders” in cinder blocks, and are also used on roofing shingles.

The Buckingham Branch turns away from the river after passing the Solite mill, and winds between old slate quarries on its way toward Arvonia.

Old stone handling equipment used to be left abandoned in the woods around the quarries. A fallen stiff leg derrick gave me a view of the bull wheel that is rarely seen.

An old aerial tramway had once been used to move slate out of the quarry.

As interesting as these artifacts were, at the time I had no idea what I was looking at or how rare they were. I wish I had taken more pictures, but getting Kodachrome processed was a strain on my meager budget.