East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Relics of an Old Soapstone Railroad

For a few years in the 1920s, soapstone rode the rails along the Tye River and Rucker Run in Nelson County.

Looking across the tops of old bridge abutments at Rucker Run

Several soapstone operations were consolidated by Thomas F. Ryan to form the Standard Soapstone Corporation.

Bridge abutment just outside Norwood, Virginia

Ryan built a new stone cutting and assembly plant, and a new railroad to connect the factory to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad at Norwood.

Railroad grade along Rucker Run

The new railroad was built across rugged country and required extensive grading, with high fills, deep cuts, and tall bridges.

Railroad track hardware on a soapstone boulder near Variety Mills

The new railroad shared a few miles of right-of-way with an older narrow gauge railroad. Dual gauge track was built to handle the narrow gauge trains from the quarries, and the standard gauge traffic connecting to the C&O.

Bridge abutment on the bank of Rucker Run

Ryan’s Standard Soapstone was in operation for a very short time. Shortly after his death in 1928 the entire operation was shut down and scrapped.