"Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Apr 11 17:20:50 EDT 2010

I had the good fortune as well as many good times of riding the Pocahontas and the Powhatan Arrow round trip from Norfolk to Bluefield 1959 to 1963. Every weekend trip was filled with High school friends, college students, student nurses, and military, mostly Sailors and Marines. They were always a very orderly group gathered in the club car just having fun. As I remember the trains stopped from Roanoke to Christiansburg, Radford, Narrows, and then to Bluefield. It was such a perfect ride, enjoying not only everyone's company, but over time most of us became good friends. The train left Bluefield around 5 o'clock in the afternoon and arrived in Norfolk just past Mid night. Trains 3 & 4 were a good ride also, but 15 & 16 were the mail trains slow and to be avoided.

Gene Arnold
----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: 'NW Mailing List'
Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2010 1:41 PM
Subject: RE: "Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

Thank you, Jim, for setting the record straight regarding the Powhatan Arrow's stops. I now consider myself properly informed! That's one of the things I enjoy most about the discussions of this group.

How fortunate you were to have the opportunity to ride the N&W back and forth during your college days. I was just an infant when N&W ceded its remaining passenger operations to Amtrak, so I could only fantasize about riding the N&W from Norfolk to Blacksburg when I was a student at Tech.

I'm not sure where I got the notion that the Arrow stopped only at Roanoke between Norfolk and Cincinnati. Perhaps I was getting facts confused with Roanoke being where the J's on point were changed out for service. There was some really good discussion on that topic on this list a few weeks ago.

If you don't mind sharing further, what were the stops of the Powhatan Arrow between Roanoke and Cincinnati? [Bluefield (apparently) .Williamson? .Portsmouth?]

Thanks again,

-David Rice

-----Original Message-----
From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2010 1:21 AM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: "Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

Well, no. The Powhatan Arrow stopped in Farmville (as did all other passenger trains). I know, because I used to ride it from Bluefield when going back to college at Hampden-Sydney. The only other possibility might have been troop trains, as they would have no need to stop at Farmville. However, it becomes a matter of traffic density, so they probably would have been routed through Farmville as well.

As for intermediate stops between Norfok and Roanoke, the Powhatan Arrow also stopped at Petersburg and Lynchburg.

Jim Nichols


Jim -

There's about a mile of thick, thick swamp separating the N&W line from the VGN and SAL lines in the vicinity of Algren; there's absolutely no way to see the N&W from the VGN other along there.

I would be interested to know if there were any instances of N&W passenger trains bypassing Farmville on the belt line. I believe, as you indicate, that passenger traffic was typically routed over the old "High Bridge" line through Farmville, and the belt line, with its more favorable grades was used mainly for heavier tonnage. Nevertheless, since the Powhatan Arrow did not make any intermediate stops between Norfolk and Roanoke, I would suppose routing it over the belt line around Farmville would not pose a problem for passengers.


What was the Powhatan Arrow doing there? It ran on the old main line through Farmville. Jim Nichols


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