MIDDLEPORT — Just over a year ago Hobson Yard in Middleport stood silent as trains were idled, doors were locked, and there were no employees. The outlook for the historic switching station, and line itself, was grim.
That changed in August of 2016 when Watco Transportation Services, LLC., one of the largest short line rail operators in the world, leased the line from Norfolk Southern, renamed it the Kanawha River Railroad, and put the 309 miles of track from Columbus, Ohio to south of Charleston, West Virginia back into service.
The success of that line has brought an additional 10 new jobs, new transloading equipment, and new growth and investment at Hobson Yard and in Meigs County.
“We are pleased to see the progress of this once abandoned rail line. It is great not only for our company, but for the communities we serve,” said Derrick Jackson, General Manager of the Kanawha River Railroad.
“We are so happy to have them in our community and happy to see the new jobs and activity at Hobson,” said Middleport Mayor Sandy Iannarelli. “They have been wonderful to work with.”
Employees from the company addressed Middleport Council during last week’s regular meeting.
“What they have done in building the business on the line is amazing,” according to Meigs County Economic Development Director Perry Varnadoe. “They are an economic asset for the entire region.”
Watco is also planning additional investments on the line, including putting all five lines at Hobson back into operation in a project supported by the Ohio Rail Development Commission. They are also actively seeking new customers to use Hobson and their transloading facilities as they grow in Meigs County.
Brigid Rich, Commercial Manager says, “Our goal is to provide transportation options and solutions to the region’s industries through all of Watco’s service offerings. The Kanawha River Railroad and Watco are open for opportunities to grow with you.”
Information provided by Meigs County Economic Development Office.