Swannanoa Gap tunnel cost more than dollars

On this day in 1879: Workers approaching from both sides complete 1,832-foot Swannanoa Gap tunnel, longest in western North Carolina. Master builder Thad Coleman wires Asheville that the “grades and centers met exactly.”

Later the same day, however, a slide at the tunnel kills 21 laborers. (In all, some 400 workers, most of them misdemeanor convicts, will die in bringing the railroad through the mountains to Asheville.)