In the early 1890s, coal magnate, Thomas G. McKell, joined with the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railway to construct a rail line through his property from Glen Jean to Thurmond. By 1894, this coal-hauling branch was expanded to serve MacDonald and soon became known as the Loup Creek Branch.
In 1895, with the threat of construction of a rival railroad from Glen Jean to Deepwater, McKell quickly founded the the Kanawha, Glen Jean & Eastern (KGJ&E) Railway to compete on this route. In 1900, the KGJ&E’s first segment was built, connecting the C&O Railway at MacDonald, West Virginia to McKell Coal & Coke Company’s mine in Derr Hale. In 1903, the mainline, connecting McKell’s Mine in Kilsyth to Glen Jean was completed.
Throughout its lifespan, the KGJ&E connected a number of mines and mining towns to national service. In its heyday, the KGJ&E had five steam locomotives, 200 coal cars, and a number of popular passenger trains. In 1940, C&O purchased the KGJ&E and incorporated its tracks into its Loup Creek Branch. To learn more about The Kanawha, Glen Jean & Eastern Railway which never actually made it to Kanawha, click here.
Historic photos of Mount Hope Depot and some of the trains at Glen Jean, click here.