Park Street: 1936-1942 Question

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Jul 30 19:53:47 EDT 2012

Thank you, Jeff Sanders, for sharpening up the issue.

I recall having read decades ago, in some now long-forgotten publication, that the Yardmaster and "yard forces" at Park Street were in the old building that burned in 1936. I think that source, whatever it was, even showed a messenger boy's bicycle leaned against the front steps. But of what credibility is a reference that old if one cannot give the bibliography...?

After some musing, it strikes me that there is a very large open area west of Park Street O.H. Bridge (where the circa-1942 brick Park Street Yard Office was eventually constructed,) and location would have certainly been the best spot for any pre-1942 Park Street Yard Office... and probably was. Thus, the "yard forces" could have been, and probably were, moved out of the building which burned in 1936 a long time before the fire, in favor of an office at the wide spot west of the bridge. But that's all conjecture on my part.

Another question which arises out of this whole issue is this: For what purpose, and when, was the building we presently know as "Park Street Yard Office" built? To me, it always appeared to be late-1940s construction. I do know that when the circa-1942 yard office was demolished by the runaway cars, the Yardmaster was moved immediately to this building. But I could never determine its prior use. Perhaps it was constructed for and used by whatever Department was housed at Huff Mill in its last days (Signal Department?)

There were plenty of men from 1920, 1922, 1926 of whom I could have asked these questions, like George A. Eanes (1922) and Cecil Waugaman (1926)... but I didn't have a sufficiently cohesive understanding of the developmental history of the Roanoke operations to have clearly formulated questions.

All these questions, and more, could be answered if we had that access to that massive shelf of canvas-covered bulletin books which existed in the upstairs Superintendent's File Room at 12th Street. I was in that room several times circa 1961-1962, and once pulled down the 1917 volume for a few minutes. Interestingly, the bulletins it contained were in exactly the same format and looked exactly the same as the ones in use when you and I hired ! They would have detailed the expansions west of Shaffers Crossing, the abandonment of the 12th Street Round House and westward extension of Park Street Yard in the late 1930s, and the major expansions of the 1942 era. They were, no doubt, trashed when 12th Street was abandoned. We can fault Jim Blackstock for not having been there with three trucks, to save it all !

-- abram burnett
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