[N&W] Re: Stories on N&W

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 6 22:21:52 EDT 2004

Dear Jennifer,
     First of all, I commend you on selecting such a worthy topic to write
about and wish you much success with your endeavor.  I hope you'll be able to
share your work with us, as I imagine many of us would be most interested in
hearing "tales of bravery along the N&W"!
     I write to you, not with a particular story in mind, but with a composite
of many stories of the "silent heroes along the Line."  My father, F.W.Dowdy,
served the N&W for almost 40 years on the Radford Division. His "run" was
from Roanoke to Bluefield, West Va and took him through some of the most
rural areas you could imagine.  Many of the folks that lived along the
right-of-way were quite poor and were in need most of the time, of the
simplest necessities.  I remember hearing my father tell how many of the
Firemen and other train crewmen would "kick off " coal during the winter as
they passed some of these homes so that the folks would have a little extra
fuel to heat and cook with.  I know that sometimes my father and his brakeman
would gather up some used clothing, bundle it up, and drop it off "on the
fly" when they passed some of those families.  I am sure that many N&W
employees performed similar acts over the years and were considered "heroes"
by those they helped.
     In reality, the N&W wasn't just a company that provided rail service for
industry and the traveling public.  The N&W was a part of the communities it
passed through and those who served on the N&W were "family."
Best regards,
Mike Dowdy

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