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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jun 16 08:25:21 EDT 2011

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with ten of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. I passed around the
latest (May-June 2011) Roanoke Chapter NRHS "Turntable Times". Also
passed was a photo of a time card of VGN Engine Carpenter M. L. White,
for the period ending 12-31-1953. Wis Sowder remembered White and
recording his time from the Roundhouse.

This prompted Raymond East to comment that for all the time he worked in
Roanoke on the VGN, the Roundhouse had a dirt floor and pot-bellied
stoves for heat. In 1957 or so, concrete floors were installed and
central heating was added....shortly after the merger all this was
"taken out of service".

Landon Gregory continued with his display on his laptop of photos taken
while going cross country, and to Hawaii and return. Someone asked him
if he got a lei (garland of flowers) from a native girl in a grass
skirt, when he got off the boat, like you see on TV. "No, and I was
disappointed. My wife Sandra had promised a friend back home she would
bring her one; we had to purchase one in a store. It was 'made in China'".

The Jewel from the Past is from April 21, 2005: "Keith Sowder remembered
riding from Victoria toward Roanoke on #71 once on a caboose, when the
term 'bobber' really applied. It seems that while the cab was ascending
the grade at Goodview, a large rock rolled down the slope and 'caught
the cab step and knocked the caboose off the tracks and after a short
bounce, re-railed itself, and didn't even slow down, since the glad hand

At last week's work session at the N&W (and VGN) Historical Society
Archives, I worked on entering more of the Virginian Railway material
into the computer system. While adding the specifications ordered for
the Fairbanks-Morse diesels by the VGN Mechanical Department, I found
some interesting facts. All the FMs were ordered with 3-gallon water
coolers and a refrigerated food compartment (E. W. Mink & Assoc. #19),
and paper cup dispensers. Each diesel electric was required to have a
clothes locker and "flush toilet" in the short hood end. One other
interesting thing about the FMS, is they were ordered with a separate
alternator that would provide speed increases with engine rpm's, of
cooling fans and traction motor blowers, similar to those on EMDs.

I told the Brethren about the many rail activities last Saturday in our
area. The Virginia Museum of Transportation had a special "African-
American N&W Heritage Day". The Roanoke Chapter NRHS gave train rides to
about 300 people, and Mr. Wick Moorman, NS CEO, was "engineer" on the
Alco T-6 #41, the last trip. Also in the area was the annual gathering
near McCoy and Whitethorne, honoring the miners who worked the semi-hard
coal in that area. This coal was hauled out by the VGN. The other event
was an auction by Ken Farmer of "Antiques Road Show" fame at his store
in Radford, VA. Jeff Sanders and others reported to me some of the VGN
items sold at the auction: Tall globe 1913 Adams lantern marked "V. Ry."
with clear cast globe for $1.300.00; Tall globe 1913 Adlake Reliable
marked "V. Ry." clear cast globe for $650.00; Short globe 1937 A&W "VGN.
RY." with blue etched VGN RY globe for $650.00; Globe only tall clear
cast "VIRGINIAN RY" in square panel for $350.00; Globe only, short red
etched VGN. RY. for $120.00; 3 Brass heart shaped "VGN RY CO" locks for
$950.00, 1,000.00, and $1.100.00; Steel switch lock, 1957 for $80.00;
VGN Switch key #1159 for $88.88; Fake switch key for $70.00; Special
agent badges, several from $100-225; Torch, with tag marked "Virginian
R. R." for $150.00; Torch with brass tag shop-stamped "VGN RY" for
$70.00; Cast iron cuspidor for $550.00; Framed advertising poster of
1926 for $650.00; Framed Builders photo (8x22) of #802. 2-10-10-2 with
people for $200.00, and a VGN 1912 Public Timetable for $92.00.

Landon told us about taking a side trip on his vacation in Nevada
between the Hoover Dam and LA. He rode on the "Jackass & Western" tour
line that has a Fairbanks-Morse H12-44 pulling it. The Brethren gave him
some ribbing about being able to ride, 52 years after the merger, behind
an opposed-piston diesel engine, build by the same company that made
them for the VGN. He responded with an addendum about the not getting a
flower lei when arriving. He told us that on one of the Hawaiian
Islands, the ship could not make it all the way to the pier, so it was
unloaded on smaller boats. The groups went different directions and
events. One group attended a luau and received a lei after the feast.
Seems some of his fellow passengers DID GET LEI'D".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon



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