The North Carolina Room received a call from someone–with both musical and local history interests–asking if there really was a collapse of the Swannanoa Tunnel, as the song, “Swannanoa Tunnel” relates? I said I would send him an article about it, thinking in a free moment I would just slap the article on the scanner and have it off to him. Except that I couldn’t find an article in our collection on the collapse. All of the staff looked. We checked book sources. And then we turned to newspapers.com, but found no reportage there.
Western North Carolina Railroad’s Swannanoa Tunnel was the longest (1800 feet) of 7 hand-dug tunnels through the Blue Ridge mountains to Asheville. The project, completed in 1879, took 20 years and cost at least 300 lives.
1. I’m going back to that Swannanoa Tunnel,
That’s my home, baby, that’s my home.
2. Asheville Junction, Swannanoa Tunnel,
All caved in, baby, all caved in.
3. Last December, I remember,
The wind blowed cold, baby, the wind blowed cold.
[From: “Remembering The Old Songs: Swannanoa Tunnel” by Lyle Lofgren. http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-SwanTunnel.html%5D
For previous HeardTell post on Buncombe County Slaves and the Western North Carolina Railroad click here.
Post by Zoe Rhine, North Carolina Room Librarian