Friday, April 13, 2018

A Few B&O Culverts (Kiamensi and Casho Mill)

"A road near Kiamensi Mill"
When we think of pieces of railroad engineering, what usually comes to mind are the big bridges spanning rivers or creeks. Those are the big, flashy ones, but more numerous are the smaller tunnels and culverts put in place to allow small roads and waterways to pass under the tracks. Here we have two examples of such, one from Mill Creek Hundred and the other from White Clay Creek Hundred just outside of Newark. Both are about 135 years old, their purposes long since made obsolete, but still in pretty darn good condition.

The first one can be seen in the blue (cyanotype) photograph here, taken by the B&O during an 1891 survey of the line. It only says that it is a road near the Kiamensi Mill. There are actually two possible locations for this tunnel. The winner, as far as I know, is yet to be determined. The first possibility (and the one I originally assumed to be correct) is on the east side of Red Clay Creek, across from the former site of the mill. It was actually an extension of what's now Kiamensi Avenue, running from Newport Road (where the Judy Johnson House and the Kings Assembly of God (formerly St. Barnabas' Episcopal Church) are) all the way to Kiamensi Road. The full extent of the road can be seen in the 1893 map below. I have not seen this underpass myself, but I am told it is still there. It's filled in and very difficult to get to, but still there. It's very possible that the 1891 shot is of this structure.

Marshallton, 1893

However, there's another contender. To the west of the mill site, between the two ponds and just before the DelDOT yard, there's another small tunnel. Thanks to the investigative work of Denis Hehman, we can see that this one is still intact, ie., not (completely) filled in. From his pictures, we can see that it looks very much like the one in the 1891 photo. I can't quite see the blocks in enough detail to be sure, though. The bottom aerial shot shows the approximate locations of the two tunnels. It was likely for easier access to Stanton Road, as there's evidence that a small lane once curved around past the Springer-Cranston House.

Kiamensi west tunnel, looking south (courtesy Denis Hehman)

Interior of Kiamensi west tunnel, looking north (courtesy Denis Hehman)
Aerial of the Kiamensi area, yellow lines show approximate locations of the two tunnels

I have had these pictures of the Kiamensi tunnels for a while, but what really prompted this post is the addition of new (and old) photos of another B&O culvert further down the line, near Newark. The other day, Paul Arnold emailed me the pictures below, of the culvert over the former mill race to the Casho Mill. The mill was located just west of Casho Mill Road, between Elkton Road and the railroad tracks. The new development called the Enclave at Newark Preserve is there now. The culvert is in the woods, just behind the Enclave. What struck me first when I saw the photos is how similar it is to the Kiamensi one. The B&O definitely had a template to build these things.

The Casho Mill race culvert, 1891

Casho Mill culvert today (courtesy Paul Arnold)

Interior of the Casho Mill culvert (courtesy Paul Arnold)

Although the mill is long gone (its memory preserved in the adjacent road name, at least), water still flows beneath the tracks and the culvert, like the Kiamensi one, seems to be in pretty good shape. Obviously the railroad has maintained these through the years, but it doesn't appear that much has had to be done to them. The B&O's 19th Century builders were pretty good at this, it seems. I'm sure there are other examples of similar culverts and tunnels along the line, but I thank Paul for finding this one and bringing it to our attention. Our whole suburban New Castle County area may seem like it's completely built up, but there's still a good bit of history hiding out there, if you know where to look.

2 comments:

  1. You've missed a culvert on the B&O over Mill Creek at Delaware Park on the south side and Murrays Mobile home Parkon the north side. Also at that culvert is an abandoned pump house where water was pumped through a chute, now gone, for steam locomotives.
    I'll send you pictures if you tell me how
    Raymond Albanese

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    1. That's awesome! I'd love to see pictures, and I'm sure any train people would, too. If you want, you can email them to me at mchhistory@verizon.net. I'll then post them on here, and give you credit for them. Thanks!!!

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