Located about a mile west of the Hawk's Nest Overlook. Was listed as MIA but is back in place with a new coat of paint.
To generate electricity for a plant downstream at Alloy, Union Carbide decided to divert the New River to improve its power generation ability. Beginning in 1927, its contractor Rinehart & Denny began construction of the 3-mile (4.8 km) tunnel carrying the river under Gauley Mountain. A dam was constructed immediately below Hawk's Nest to divert most of the New River flow into the tunnel. It then re-enters the river near Gauley Bridge leaving a section known as "the Dries" in between.
During the construction of the tunnel, workers found the mineral silica and were asked to mine it for use in electroprocessing steel. The workers were not given any masks or breathing equipment to use while mining, despite the fact that management wore such equipment during inspection visit. As a result of the exposure to silica dust, many workers developed silicosis, a debilitating lung disease. A large number of the workers eventually died from the silicosis, in some cases as quickly as within a year.
There are no definitive statistics as to the death toll from the Hawks Nest disaster. According to a historical marker on site, there were 109 admitted deaths. A Congressional hearing placed the death toll at 476. Other sources range from 700 to over 1,000 deaths amongst the 3,000 workers. Many of the workers at the site were African-Americans from the southern United States who returned home or left the region after becoming sick, making it difficult to calculate an accurate total.
Historical Marker located on Rt 60 about a mile west of the Hawk's Nest overlook.
View eastbound on Rt 60 at the turnoff.
From about a mile downstream of the marker, looking back upstream to where the tunnel channels the water back into the river.