An eastbound auto rack train climbs upgrade at the western portal of the "new" Elkhorn Tunnel at Maybeury, WV in 1993. The double track 7,110-foot bore under Flat Top Mountain replaced a tight single track 3,104-foot tunnel, the approach to which was on the opposite (far) side of this narrow valley. Completed and opened for service in 1950, the new tunnel and line change of 5.3 miles took two and half years to finish. The new line reduced the maximum grade for eastbound tonnage from a staggering 2 percent to 1.4 percent. This allowed the N&W to retire its 1915-era electrification between Iaeger and Bluefield in favor of "modern steam." The electrification was necessary to get trains through the old tunnel without asphyxiating and baking engine crews on steam locomotives. The new tunnel--though longer--was generously proportioned and equipped with a modern ventilation system to purge smoke from the bore after the passage of an upgrade train.