"Natural Tunnel State ParkAn..." Virginia Off The Beaten Path Tip by WFTR
Virginia Off The Beaten Path: 97 reviews and 264 photos
Natural Tunnel State Park
An interesting feature of southwest Virginia is a cave known as Natural Tunnel. When the settlers found Natural Tunnel, it was just a curiousity like many other caves in the area. However, when the railroad starting building a line from the coal fields to the shipping locations, the railroad realized that this cave was big enough to hold a train. They had to do some excavating, but they were able to lay tracks through the cave and save a great deal of money.
At that time, passenger trains as well as coal trains ran the line, and the tunnel became a popular stopping point. The train enters the tunnel at the bottom of deep gorge, and from that vantage point, limestone walls rise for maybe two hundred feet. A little creek runs through the cave and adds another scenic feature to the gorge.
The land was eventually given to the state for a state park, and the state of Virginia manages the area around the tunnel and a campground nearby. Coal trains still run this section of track, and I've seen trains coming through the tunnel on about half of my trips. The total length of hikng trails in the park is probably less than five miles. Natural Tunnel is not a park to visit for hard core hiking, but it is a fun place to walk in the woods and see an unusual site. I believe that there is a restaurant and hotel on the premises.
I have a longer write-up plus photos at <a href='http://www.geocities.com/wftright/nattun.html'>Natural Tunnel State Park</a>.
The park is located near Duffield, Virginia. The nearest city of any size is Kingsport, Tennessee, and the best route to the park for most people will be to take Hwy 23 north from Kingsport. One must watch for the signs fairly carefully.
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