This branch line was first built by the New River Plateau Railroad Company, with construction starting in 1882. Known as the Cripple Creek Extension, it connected with the Norfolk and Western Railroad at Pulaski, and was chartered in order to reach mineral deposits located near the Speedwell Furnace.
In 1889, the N&W purchased the NPRRR outright. Construction on the line continued in the ensuing years; it reached Fries in 1901, and reached Galax via a short branch in 1906.
The line was abandoned under N&W ownership in 1985. Today, the right-of-way serves as the New River rail-trail.