Call for Virginian Artifacts

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sat Oct 8 11:30:52 EDT 2011

>From the Long Island Sunrise Trail NRHS newsletter:

Planting Fields Foundation Announces Special Exhibition on
The Virginian Railway

The Curatorial Department at Coe Hall Historic House Museum
is proud to announce the development of our latest
exhibition, Henry Huttleston Rogers and the Virginian
Railway, set to open spring 2012 at Planting Fields
Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, NY.

The Virginian Railway was a 440-mile coal-carrying line
operated between 1909 and 1959, the construction of which
was financed with the personal fortune of Henry Huttleston
Rogers, vice president of the Standard Oil Company and one
of the wealthiest American businessmen in history. With a
nearly endless cash flow from Rogers' deep pockets — he
invested $40,000,000 of his own resources into the
project! — the Virginian proved a unique enterprise in the
modern railroad industry: it was built with the highest
quality materials, equipment and labor; was one of the first
railroads to electrify part of its line; and ushered in the
era of railroad mergers and the eventual nationalization of
America's railroads. Despite its small size and short life,
the Virginian stands as one of the most well-engineered,
efficient and profitable railroads in history, and today is
one of the most celebrated fallen flags in railroading.

Through stories, artifacts and images, this exhibit explores
the nation's remarkable railroading heritage at the turn of
the twentieth century, the "Golden Age" of American
railroads. Highlighted are major social, cultural and
technological themes of this period: the growth of travel
and settlement; the development of "rail towns"; the
capitalist spirit driving the coal industry; and the
railroad as icon and art. The exhibit also features a 10x12'
0-Gauge model railroad, constructed by a local modeling
club, depicting the Virginian's historic-mainline from
Deepwater, WV to Norfolk, VA.

You may ask, Why the Virginian Railway? Rogers' son-in-law,
William Robertson Coe, was the owner of Planting Fields
between 1913 and 1949. Mr. Coe served as an executive of the
railway from 1913-1954, and his eldest son William Rogers
Coe served as vice president and treasurer from 1948-1959.
Henry Huttleston Rogers and the Virginian Railway will draw
from the Planting Fields archives as well as the collections
of museums, historical societies and private individuals to
engage visitors in this story.
Planting Fields Foundation is reaching out the vast
community of railroad enthusiasts to provide any leads on
potential artifacts that would benefit this exhibition.
These include:

o Pictorial imagery (historic photographs, railway
posters/advertisements, brochures)

o Railroad hardware (lamps/lanterns, signals, tools,
pins/spikes, whistles/bells)

o Passenger items (cards, tickets, menus, timetables,
Railroad-related bric-a-brac and souvenirs

If you think you may have something to contribute, please
send an email with a short description to
mhoward at or call 516-922-8684. Collected
materials for the exhibition may be donated or loaned.
Please reply to this call for artifacts by November 30,
Planting Fields Foundation is a not-for-profit organization
in Oyster Bay, New York, that collaborates with the New York
State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
to preserve and interpret Planting Fields Arboretum.

------------------------------end release-------------------

Jim Guthrie
New York

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