C&O Milepost 140.7
Station Number: 141
Code Number: 0204
Tel. Calls: SV
Mineral is approximately 56 miles west of Richmond on the Piedmont Sub. It was originally called Tolersville Station (though the post office opened as Tolersville in 1837). In 1838, the Louisa Railroad constructed the Rough and Ready Turnout near Toler’s Tavern to service the Rough and Ready iron furnace. In 1840, the railroad built a second turnout in Tolersville, this time to service the Victoria Furnace of Thomas Mayburry. The Rough and Ready Furnace remained in operation until about 1860 and the Victoria Furnace operated until the 1870’s. The name of the town was changed in the mid 1880’s1 because local deposits of several minerals, including copper, gold, mica, and sulphur, were discovered.
In 1847, Reuben Davis purchased 39 acres of land next to the Rough and Ready. On it, he built a combination depot and warehouse, the first depot in Tolersville. The Virginia Central built their first depot in the town in 1851 on the site of the current station. That depot was burned during a Union raid under General Stoneman in 1864. During that same raid, all the switches, 3 water houses and tanks, and several storehouses were destroyed and the telegraph lines were cut.
About the same time that the name of the town was changed, a new depot was built in Mineral. It was designed by the C&O mechanical department in Richmond and was typical of mid 1880’s design. The station is still standing and is one of few remaining examples of non-standard C&O designs. Passenger service to Mineral, like many of the Piedmont Sub’s towns, ended in the 1950’s.
In September, 1923 a spur track was built to service the Capitol Oil Co. I’m not sure where this track was, or whether it was one of the tracks listed below. In November of the same year the passing track was extended. The track scales in Mineral were closed in January, 1927, around the same time that the Arminius Mines branch was abandoned (see below). The coal trestle, sand house, boiler house, and water tank were all retired in mid 1929. Mineral, according to the 1937 Side Track Record, had a 3401' passing siding (track number 860). It also had a 1047' spur (track number 861) serving the Mineral Milling Co. (a feed mill). Track number 862 was a commercial track. Mineral also had a 217' spur (track number 863) serving the Texas Oil Company, and a 235' spur (track number 864) serving the American Oil and Gas Company. There were also two crossovers (tracks 865 and 866) between track 862 and the mainline. A portion of track 862 and crossover 866 were retired in 1937. The stock pen was retired in August, 1941. In February, 1947 a turnout was installed on the west end of track 861. The C&O’s 1950 Industrial Directory listed a team track in Mineral that could hold 18 cars. There was also enough storage trackage to hold 48 cars. The team track served the following industries: the Bowles & Spicer Lumber Co. (a saw and planing mill), the Mineral Milling Co., Myrna Mills, Inc. ( a textile plant), A. W. Sisk & Sons (a canning plant), the Spicer Brothers coal yard, and W. L. Stanley (a pulpwood shipper). In July, 1961 a spur (track number 2854) was built to serve the Continental Can Company, Inc. The freight agency in Mineral was discontinued in November of 1979 and the agency functions transferred to Gordonsville. Tracks 862, 863, 864, and 865 were all retired in 1984. Tracks 860 and 861 were retired in 1992. Track 2854 was retired in 1993.
Several branch lines were built off the C&O main along Contrary Creek. In 1885 the 1.75 mile long Arminius Mines Branch was built to service the copper mine of the Arminius Chemical Company. This branch was leased and operated by the C&O from 1891 until 1927. The track was removed soon after. A second branch line was also built in 1885. This 3.75 mile line was built by the Sulphur Mines Company to service their mines and the mine of the Ethel Gold Mine Company. The C&O leased this branch for operation from 1914 until 1925. According to David Black there was once a post office at Sulphur Mines that operated for about 20 years.
1 - I’m not sure that mid-1880’s is correct. The post office name was changed to Mineral City in 1890 and to Mineral in 1899. On the other hand, lots of changes related to minerals occurred in the mid-1880’s, so it could be that the U.S.P.S. was just a little slow to catch on.
|This station was built of clapboard over a board-and-batten base. It was extended in 1912. At that time the interior contained a waiting room, a freight room, and two offices. The Mineral depot is still standing and in use by Buckingham Branch maintenance crews. (May 12, 1969 photo, photographer unknown. From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|This photo was taken in 1982 by Ron Huffman. (Used with permission.)|
|This photo shows the Mineral depot as it appeared in 1998. (Photo by Larry Z. Daily)|
|In 2009 the Buckingham Branch crews repainted the Mineral Depot. Here’s what it looks like.(Photo 2009 by Morty Cox. Used with permission.)|
|These two shots show the interior of the Mineral depot freight room. In the first, I’m standing near the west end of the station, looking back toward the passenger section. To the left in the distance is the door leading into the passenger section, currently used as office space by the Buckingham Branch Railroad. The second photo shows some writing on the wall behind the shelving units just to the right of the door to the passenger section. It reads, “Depot built in 1889 on 1a. donated by Reuben Davis. Freight depot section added 1912.” (Both photos 2013)|
|In 2010, Jerry Simonoff reported that the remains of a former siding could still be seen in Mineral. These photos show what there is to be seen. Given its location, I suspect that it may have been track 864, though it may be track number 863. (2010 photos by Larry Z. Daily)|
|This photo is from an old postcard. You can see the railroad on the right side of the photo and, in the distance a water tank and the depot. The postmark on the card is 1908, but I suspect that this photo was taken considerably before that. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|I really can’t say much about this undated image except what the label on the slide says: C&O Railway 601 ready to pull out of the siding at Mineral, VA. (Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|This image is from a slide obtained in an eBay purchase. It was taken on September 25, 1977 just outside Mineral. According to the Chessie Steam Special page, this photo shows one of the Chessie Steam Special trains. This train, with 2 Western Maryland F7’s on the head end, was a one-way trip from Newport News to Baltimore via Gordonsville. Other views of this train can be seen on the Hanover and Louisa pages. (Photo by James C. Herold. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|This postcard image shows the Sulphur Mines mill and a new shaft. Note the handwritten label on the commissary on the left and the C&O equipment in the background. (from a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|This postcard image shows the Arminius Mines. (from a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
These maps were prepared from U.S.G.S. topological maps, C&O track charts dated 1963, C&O Side Track Records dated 1937, a copy of the Side Track Records updated through the 1990’s, and C&O Valuation maps, also updated through the 1990’s.
This map was prepared from a document sent to me by Tim Browning. It was titled Sketch Showing Proposed Sidings for the Va. Pyrites Mining Co. At Sulphur Mines, Louisa, Co. Va.. It was dated July 30, 1895.
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