Helm, Robert A.
Robert A. Helm lives in Jonesborough, Tenn., and is a doctor in Greeneville, Tenn. He has had an interest in and done research on the historical development of the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway (Clinchfield) for a number of years. This research culminated in the publication of his book The Clinchfield Railroad in the Coal Fields (Lynchburg, Va.: TLC Publishing, Inc., 2004).
The Clinchfield railroad connected the coal fields of southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky to reach the Atlantic ports of the North and South Carolina coasts and helped open southern Appalachia to economic development. George L. Carter began development of the line in 1902 as the South & Western Railway. After securing the support of outside investors, the line was reincorporated in 1908 as the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway. In 1909, the route was completed connecting Dante, Va., with Spartanburg, S. C., with Johnson City, Tenn., serving as company headquarters. The final portion of the railroad from Dante to Elkhorn City, Ky., was completed in 1915. This then provided transportation access from the Ohio River to the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the rail line, Clinchfield controlled and operated extensive mining operations in southwest Virginia. In 1924, the railroad property was leased to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. In 1983, the Clinchfield merged into the CSX Corporation.