Hollins Mill Pedestrian Tunnel
Excavated by a combination of black powder blasting and hand digging, the Hollins Mill Tunnel is a historic railroad tunnel that was converted for pedestrian and bike use after the last train passed through it in 1982. Following a rock fall in 2007, inspections and scaling have occurred every two to three years since. The City of Lynchburg engaged Schnabel to perform an inspection to assist in its maintenance.
Currently part of the Blackwater Creek Bikeway, the Hollins Mill Tunnel is named for the nearby Hollins Mill site, a historic water-powered mill located along the creek. Completed in 1852 through 508 feet of gneiss and schist rock, the tunnel was part of the Norfolk & Western original main line. Until the mid 1960s, all passenger trains passed through it on their way through Lynchburg.
The tunnel is unlined in rock with no visible rock support. There is a paved trail running through the tunnel, and ventilation consists of natural ventilation only. We inspected the tunnel to look for potential safety issues and developed a report of our findings and recommendations to help the city maintain the tunnel along the trail.