The Enigma of Walt Willard

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sun Mar 21 19:01:29 EDT 2010

I have found one photo of Walt Willard. If any of you have the December 1957 issue of the Norfolk and Western Magazine, on page765, he is posed with a train crew (which apparently is a mine run out of Wilcoe) in 1942. I was rather surprised him to be still working in freight service this late, perhaps he was working 'anywhere' at that time, as engineer. The man's expression is a mystery but draw what you will from the photo.

Lois J. Ponton

ljp611 at

To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: RE: The Enigma of Walt Willard
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 03:24:32 +0000
From: nw-mailing-list at

In fact, a copy of the death certificate, which I have obtained, states the cause of death as 'coronary thrombosis' which I take to be a heart attack. I will note also Mr. Willard's death was noted in the February 1956 issue of the Norfolk and Western Magazine; the wreck, of course, was not.
Lois J. Ponton
611 Historian

To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Re: The Enigma of Walt Willard
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 09:15:45 -0400
From: nw-mailing-list at

I was 16 and lived in Bluefield when that happened. I remember the wreck cars being called out, my brother T. C. Arnold Jr. was one of the brakeman. It was passed around that Mr. Willard( a very much respected engineer on the Poky Division) was dead at the throttle from a heart attack when rounding the curve. My brother, B. L. Arnold was killed June 6, 1956 at Arista Mountain. The blue light at the call office was lit for both accessions.
Gene Arnold
Gloucester, Va.

----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2010 9:41 PM
Subject: The Enigma of Walt Willard

While finishing my book on the 611 1956 wreck, 'Midnight on the Pocahontas' I have been looking through details and realize I do not have that much information on the engineer, Walter Willard. What I do know about him:
Born: August 4, 1895
Died:January 23, 1956
Home: Princeton, West Virginia
Married to: Carrie Viola Gordon; no children
Family: Brothers James, John, J.W. "Spot" Willard, Benjamin Willard, at least three sisters. I do not know the parents or where they came from.
Hired on the N&W in 1909.
Character: Don't know. I would like to get some idea on what the man might have been like so he is not cast as a 'villain' (which I personally don't want to do) especially if someone sees this book and decides to make a film of it.
If any of you can supply any information please email me at ljp611 at or reply to this message.
Thank you.
Lois J. Ponton
611 Historian

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