N&W Amtrak service
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Sun Sep 26 10:44:24 EDT 2004
I rode the Mountaineer back in December of 1976 from Norfolk to Peru Indiana
and back. I was 11 years old and my family went to my Grandmother's for
Christmas who lived in South Bend IN. My Uncle picked us up in Peru and took
us north to SB as the train didn't service SB, and dropped us off again for
the return trip.
This trip is the event that solidified my fascination with trains, the N&W,
and the coalfields of of WV. I remember thinking to myself while riding in
the dome car that if I ever have a model railroad that it will be based on
the N&W and the Pokey. Of course as I got older and learned of the
"homebuilt" steam engines, and of the last class one hold out of steam I was
so thankful for that trip on the Mountaineer.
Being that long ago there is a lot I forget, & we did'nt take any pictures.
But I do remember departing Norfolk around mid-day, maybe a little before. I
recall staying awake all night just to sit in the dome and looking out,
watching the CPL's change when our head end passed through, and even
remember seeing a black N&W diesel added to the head end as a helper. I
remember the train being 4 or 5 hours late going west, but coming back east
we arrived in Norfolk a total of about 12 hours late! The heating system was
really bad, if it wasn't cold it was like Miami in July, no in between. The
conductors seemed to pick up on my love of trians and always alerted me to
the next town, and what to look for and when.
When we were dropped off by my uncle at the depot in Peru for the return
trip the train was held up becase of a bridge malfunction in Hammond IN.
Instead of hanging out with Mom and Dad and the rest of the waiting
passengers, I sat in the lobby of the trainmasters office pouring through
issues of "Railway Age" magazine and was noticed by who I am guessing was
the trainmaster himself. He invieted me to sit with the dispatcher at the
CTC machine and explained what I was looking at and how it worked. The
dispatcher even let me throw a couple of levers! The trainmaster came in to
chat for a while and for some reason was impressed with my interest in
trains, went back to his office to retrive a book and gave it to me titled
"Railroads of the Hour", which had a nice mix of text and picutres for a boy
of 11. The book survived the frenzy of page turning for the duration of the
trip to Norfolk. Infact I still have the book and cherish the memory it
holds of that trip, inside the front cover is written "D.P. Murphy, Peru
Ind". I wish I could thank him again! Excuse my rambling, all the talk of
the Amtrak trains got me a little sentimental.
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