"Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon
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Thu Sep 15 16:48:30 EDT 2011
Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with ten of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Attending with us last
night was Nicholas Merkelson, Curatorial Fellow from the Planting Fields
Foundation in Oyster Bay, New York. The Planting Fields is a museum of
William Robertson Coe. It is a 65 room Elizabethan country house
(mansion) on 409 acres that are now a New York State Park. This museum
was the home of W. R. Coe who married Mai Rogers, daughter of Henry
Huttleston Rogers, builder of the Virginian Railway. Nic is preparing
for an exhibition of Virginian Railway artifacts next year at the
museum. I met him yesterday at the N&W Historical Society Archives and
helped with his selection of photographs and some artifacts he wants to
use from the Society. I invited him to "Take Twenty" with the Brethren.
Last night for Show and Tell, I brought a cook's uniform from the VGN
business car "Guyandotte River" and a VGN heart shaped switch lock to
show Nic. He has been involved at the museum setting up exhibitions for
such famous people as Gene Autry, Annie Oakley and the Buffalo Bill Wild
West Show. The Virginian Exhibition will start July 1, 2012.
Passed around was a new book "Victoria Stories, Glimpses of a Railway
Town" by Jenean Hall. This book is full of first hand information about
the life and times of the VGN RWY built division point between Roanoke
and Sewells Point. Landon Gregory remembered working with Jenean Hall's
father Whit. This book will be available soon from the N&W Historical
Society Commissary. You will want one!!
We talked about the September 22 Virginian Railway Day at the Virginia
Museum of Transportation. So far ten of the Brethren have agreed to be
on hand it the "Virginian-Roanoke's Other Railway" room to answer
questions about our beloved fallen flag line. Landon Gregory plans to
set up a Morse code operator's station at the VMT Ellett Station to
demonstrate his first day on the VGN. Come join us if you can.
Also passed around was the cover page from the N&W HS very first
newsletter before it became the slick "The Arrow", it is today. The
first paragraph ever written by N&W HS talked about the N&W's purchasing
six axle Alco C-628 and EMD SD-35 diesels with this: "The success of the
ex-Virginian Trainmasters influenced the buying trend that continues to
I received a question at the Archives last week about the box above the
headlight on the VGN EL-C electrics that seems to block the horn. I
discovered that this box was only on EL-Cs that had been renumbered with
a "2" instead of the VGN "1" series, indicating it was post merger. I
found that after the merger, to run longer coal trains, the N&W tied
three EL-Cs together; VGN only used a set. Running three together
required a jumper between each unit and the box above the headlight, in
front of the horn, was for an insulator allowing a connection to the
high voltage to be distributed evenly. I found a photo with the jumpers
in place. The #135 in VMT shows evidence of this modification but she is
back to the "normal" VGN "no box" form.
We talked about the October 22, 2011 dedication of the replica Ellett
station building that will become a mini-museum in Mullens. Dewey Houch
told me that his group should have it almost finished by then. The
Brethren and I discussed a "road trip" to attend this.
It was great watching Nic Merkelson listen to first hand accounts of VGN
history from VGN fireman Raymond East (told about firing the only
remaining VGN steam engine #4), VGN clerks Wis Sowder and Ken McLain
(told of classifying coal at Sewells Point) and VGN operator Landon
Gregory (told of stopping Seaboard 95 MPH "Champion" to let a VGN coal
train pass). The Brethren talked about attending the Virginian Railway
Exhibition in Oyster Bay, NY next year...."ROAD TRIP".
Then there's this: An older fellow was stopped by police about 2 AM one
morning and the officer asked "What are you doing out this late?". The
fellow responded, "I'm on my way to a one hour lecture about alcohol and
the unhealthy effects it has on the body". The officer asked "Who would
be giving this lecture this time of night?" He answered "My wife!".
Time to pull the pin on this one!
Departing Now from V248,
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