"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Oct 1 08:33:28 EDT 2009

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with a dozen of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed a "Get Well" card
for Landon Gregory, VGN operator and retired Chief Dispatcher NS Virginia
Division, who is recovering from a recent hip replacement.

We finalized plans for our "Road Trip" this Saturday to Victoria to be with
the fellow Virginian Brethren at the town's 100 year anniversary celebration.

We discussed last Saturday's Roanoke Chapter NRHS Open House that several
of the Brethren attended. I presented two photos taken of our waitress
Susan Reed who had a great time riding on both of the trains that were
running on Saturday. Raymond East, while riding on the rear of our caboose
on Saturday, showed me the very spot near the 9th Street Bridge and the
Silk Mill lead, where VGN brakeman Paul Nicewander lost his life, while
switching out cars there.

Eddie Mooneyham, Roanoke Chapter NRHS Vice President joined us and brought
three items for "show and tell": a VGN short globed red lantern #K 766 of
4-1934; a builder's plate off MC 478 that H. Reid himself rescued, and a
very interesting PRR ticket from 1894.

Passed around was Gordon Hamilton's item from Mullens newspaper of
10-1-1947 showing VGN officials and part of the interior of what apparently
is a VGN observation car. This clipping was donated to the N&W (and VGN)
Historical Society by a Princeton High School classmate of Gordon's, Louise
Mills Alexander, daughter of VGN official Berkeley Mills.

Also passed around was a "letter to the editor" by our friend Don Corbin
suggesting the same thing I told the VGN Station Committee when we first
started talking about uses for the Station several years ago: "Why not
repair it with an eye toward using it as it was intended: a passenger
station? Could it be used to help entice Amtrak to come here?"...

The first video shown was of NS Business Special train #952 passing through
Salem on Monday. The consist was: A-B-B-A NS locos 4270, 4276, 4275 and
4271; NS Business Cars #7 "Pennsylaania", NS #2 "Carolina", NS #13
"Georgia", NS #21 "West Virginia", NS #1 "Virginia", NS #19 "Kentucky";
Super dome NS #24 "Delaware" and Observation Car NS #23 "Buena Vista". This
was the quietest and best painted train I have ever seen, bar none! Ruf
said "the only thing that would make it better would be to replace the
tuxedo Southern style units with a VGN EL-2B!"

Traveling to the restaurant last night, Ruf and I discussed the names of
VGN switching jobs along what the Brethren called "Wheat Street", a track
off the VGN main line east of JK and north toward downtown. He recalled
Bova Distributing (beer), Holdren's (refrigerators and stoves), Junkyard
(scrap iron), Southern States (farm supplies),one coal tipple, and
Heironimus Warehouse (department store in Roanoke). He also recalled the
Stauffer Chemical Co. that took a tank car each day from the Silk Mill.
They refined the contents, and some sort of salt was picked up there in box
cars afterwards.

Yesterday I interviewed George Raymond East for our video series of the
Brethren, that will be shown in the Depot after restoration. Raymond and I
started shooting at his home in Hunting Hills in Roanoke and shot at the
locations of "George's Beanery", VGN Station, "JK" Tower, "Wheat Street",
VGN cab #322 at 9th Street, and Virginia Museum of Transportation. Last
night I could not resist showing what I think may be the "keystone" shot of
my video collection so far. I filmed Raymond, who started with the VGN at
Victoria as a fireman, beside VGN SA 0-8-0 switch engine #4 at VMT, the
only remaining example of VGN Steam Power. He told about firing this
locomotive for two weeks at Suffolk and working the peanut plants there.

Raymond and I stopped at his favorite "watering hole", Hardy's Restaurant
near Tanglewood Mall. I got a ham and egg buscuit and orange juice; he got
a sausage and egg biscuit, coffee and a straw. I recalled wondering if he
was going to drink that coffee through the straw, something I had never
seen before. What I saw next was even better. He took the straw, and "field
dressed" the inside of that biscuit "to remove all of the cholesterol from it!"

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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