Bee Rock Tunnel

The Bee Rock Tunnel (pictured here) was once considered the shortest railroad tunnel in the world.

The definition of a “troll” is a mythical cave-dwelling creature depicted in folklore as dwarfish and typically having a very ugly appearance.

In the late days of the 1800s, when coal was king, the mining companies and the railroads were expanding daily. The transportation of mined coal was done primarily by rail. The Louisville and Nashville (L&N) railroad company made the decision to cut through rock formations between Appalachia and Big Stone Gap creating the Bee Rock Tunnel and the Callahan Tunnel.

Here begins the tale of the Bee Rock Troll, as told by Appalachia Town Manager Fred Luntsford during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Halloween at the Powell River Trail.

Many local men, as well as men from other countries, were hired as laborers to construct the tunnels. It was a transient period with workers moving from one job site to another, so it was not out of the ordinary for a crew of men to change daily. On numerous occasions, the laborers, company people and train personnel reported seeing a small creature-like being inhabiting the woods and caves between Appalachia and Big Stone Gap.

The story spread like wildfire. Just the fleeting glimpses of the creature were enough to describe it as being short, stocky and very ugly. Many times, the workers who camped along the Powell River reported hearing a shrill voice come from the woods during the night saying, ‘Come help me, please come help me.’ Now, most of those men had either seen the small creature or had heard tales of it and were afraid to go off in the dark woods to investigate the calls for help.

As recently as 1958, the Luntsford family, who lived on the point above the Bee Rock, reported hearing someone or something calling for help from the woods near the tunnel. The Luntsfords also reported seeing an extremely grotesque face peering through the windows of their home. Several times, Frederick Luntsford, the father, would rush outside and fire his shotgun as a warning to the creature with the ugly face to stay away. Also, train engineers who were traveling along that section of track between Appalachia and Big Stone Gap would report catching a momentary glimpse of a small ugly being darting across the tracks in front of the locomotive.

The mystery of the small grotesque creature, now known as the Bee Rock Troll, lives on today. Does it really exist and where did it come from? Is it friendly or not? Why the calls for help? Will the folks who walk and ride the Powell River Trail encounter the troll? No one knows. Will you be the one to be on the trail when the Bee Rock Troll decides to make another appearance?