Widemouth Creek

Widemouth Creek is a stream in Mercer County WV 6,7 miles from Princeton WV, named because of the rather wide mouth of the creek.  The creek has two branches, the Right Branch and the Left Branch. The headwaters of the Right Branch flow from above Lamar WV through Giatto and into the main branch.  The Left Branch flows from above Arista to Giatto where it empties into the main branch.  From Giatto the creek flows through the community of Matoaka WV and ambles towards the area of Rock WV where it empties into the Bluestone River.  In the late 1800s, the trail into Matoaka followed the path of the Widemouth Creek from Rock.  

The N&W railway entered the Bluestone River Valley in the early 1880s at a point less than 10 miles northwest of Bluefield WV near Bluestone. From here the Bluestone Branch extended just over 17 miles to Giatto, near the soon to be developed town of Matoaka, following Widemouth Creek. The Bluestone Branch served as a major artery in carrying coal from the scores of mines located near its tracks to the N&W mainline. It took approximately 20 years to build from the Bluestone Branch from Coopers to Matoaka and points west towards Wyoming County. Much of the branch was constructed with little to no grade, with the exception of three miles east of Matoaka between mileposts 12 and 15 - or Rock and Widemouth Tunnel No. 2.

The N&W provided daily passenger service to stations located at Bramwell, Simmons, Montcalm, and Matoaka until 1953. According to N&W timetables, the Bluestone Branch ends at Giatto, approximately 17.58 miles from the Bluestone Junction at the headwaters of Widemouth Creek. From here two branch lines originated and a wye was built. The branch line going to the left follows the Left Fork of Widemouth Creek and was named Left Fork-Widemouth Branch and passed through Weyanoke and ended near Lamar, approximately three miles from Giatto.  The Righthand Fork - Widemouth Branch moved in a northerly direction and extended from Giatto to Arista, which is paralled by current Rt. 10 for much of the distance.  Two spurs followed the Righthand Fork, the tipple at Piedmont was served by the Big Branch Spur, which followed Big Branch to Smokeless. Another spur left of the Righthand Fork west of Springton and traveled up the hollow past Wenonah. (http://www.railsinva.com/abandoned/nw/bluestone/index.html)

The N&W began construction of its Widemouth Branch in or shortly before 1903.  The branch was planned to provide access to mines being developed along Widemouth Creek.  The Widemouth Creek valley provided access to thousands of acres of untouched coal lands, mostly owned by the Pocahontas Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of the railroad which leased land to coal operators.

The Deepwater Railway was a small Fayette County coal carrier that would combine with the Tidewater Railway to become the Virginian Railway.  The Deepwater Railway also wanted control of the Widemouth Creek Valley to provide access to the coal lines of the N&W.  Following a lawsuit for right of way easement through the valley, The Deepwater Railway built its own  Widemouth Branch through the valley and beyond.  More of this is in the book King Coal Highway Volume II.