N&W vs. ACL
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Fri Jan 6 12:34:48 EST 2006
Q: "if Mr. Dunlap had known that Mr. Bradley was in the room, do you
think it would have made any difference ?"
A: I certainly don't.
Sometime during the late 70's there was a hastily called meeting of
operating people at the Hotel Roanoke - no specific agenda. During the
meeting, one of the investigators from the NTSB gave some of that
department's findings regarding the tank car explosion at DeCrater.
He got about two sentences out before Mr. Dunlap told him his was
In my ONLY conversation with RFD, I tried to discretely (emphasis on
discretely) explain to him that there was a difference between an ENGINE
( A unit propelled by any form of energy, or a combination of units operated
from a single control used in train or yard service) and a YARD CREW.
What a mistake that was. Thirty five years later, I'm still paying for that
one. When I retired, I was in the same category as a newly hired chemist
at the lab.
"You hadda be there". Well I wasn't on the Scioto Division, but I was in
the Mechanical (Motive Power) Department and ever day I'd ask myself,
"Why AM I here?" Ed is right. You hadda be there.
The Scioto Division WAS different. Many of the operating officials thought
that when a train passed Armour crossing at Williamson going west, it
left the N&W and entered . . . . .Mis'tuh Tay'buh's Kingdom. Mr.Tabor was
Superintendent of the Scioto Division. The Scioto Division did have
operating practices. A Pocahontas Division trainmaster once noted that
when N&W ran passenger trains in sections, the Scioto Division train
would show up at Williamson displaying signals for following sections.
Before departure from Williamson, the Pokey crews would take all the signals
down and the train would run as a passenger extra.
That part of the Tadpole west of Tunnel 7 had been operated in accordance
with Rule 251 -- i.e. trains moved with the current of traffic with
other trains in the same direction by block signal indications. It wasn't
traffic control. Movement against the current of traffic required some type
of protection. After installation of the Prichard weigh-in-motion scale,
following a coal train crossing the scale were delayed. The Scioto Division
put forth a proposal to install traffic control on the eastward main track
ONLY, Neal to Tunnel 7. The westward main track was to remain ABS
only. Mr. Fishwick held capital expenditure meetings every year in
He wanted cold, hard facts only -- no guesstimates, no if's, and's, or
Consequently, the divisions turned to Roanoke to have the number-crunchers
come up with methods that left no room for doubt and that could show a
reasonable return on investment. Having worked through the numbers for the
Scioto Division proposal, it became apparent that it indeed had great
and that for a few dollars more, BOTH tracks could be traffic controlled.
all, the biggest pay out would be to purchase equipment to TC the eastbound.
So Portsmouth was contacted to to approve the revised proposal. Well guess
For me, the difference in the Scioto Division was the territory. Once you
near Fort Gay, it was a whole 'nother world. The speed limit went up. The
per capita income went up. The scenery was a knock out. Coal mines gave
way to on-line industries like refineries, chemical plants, shoe factories,
atomic plant, and a steel mill. Old timers told of finding heaps of Kodak
film cartons on Blue Ridge. Towards the end of steam, many a fan made
trips to Blue Ridge and Christiansburg, but the Scioto got little coverage.
I sure wish I coulda been there. Leaving East Yard with the setting sun
turning C&O's Limeville Bridge aglow is something to see.
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