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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Oct 4 16:33:56 EDT 2012

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with nine of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed a Happy Birthday card for
Raymond East, VGN Fireman and Yard Engineer, who once fired the old #4, the
last survivor of VGN steam, now on display at the VMT in Roanoke. Raymond,
who saw combat in Korea in the 1950s and is a real hero, served the VGN and
N&W on both steam and diesels. His favorite steam engine was the VGN AG
Blue Ridge Class 900s which "operated great and weren't hard to keep a good
fire goin'". His least favorite were the N&W Alcos diesels. Raymond
commented on the Alcos "whoever built 'um had a grudge against human
beings: the controls were hard to reach, the windshield wipers hung up on
your clothes when you went in the cab door, and the steps were too steep".
Raymond turns 88 next Sunday.

The Jewel from the Past is from May 18, 2006: "Ruf Wingfield brought
several copies of a famous calendar photo showing two VGN 700s
double-heading a coal train under the Wasena Bridge in Roanoke, past the
brand new scale office and 'AG' Tower. This was in the early 1940s when the
coal weighing operation was moved from Princeton to Roanoke, and the
electrics were 'king' from Mullens to Roanoke. 'Slick' Inge said the
unusual steam power was a test, and was 'hush-hush' at the time. Seems some
of the 'VGN powers-to-be' were considering shutting down the power plant at
Narrows, and going with all steam. The test however did not change the
status-quo, and of course the electrics were used until the early sixties".

Passed around for the Brethren to peruse was the November 2012 "Trains"
magazine. The diesel boys will like the article on page 20, "Taking on Tier
4" about GE's new Tier 4 prototype diesel locomotive with the latest
innovations developed to meet stringent EPA emission standards due by 2015.
The inside cover features NS's newest ad: "We never forget that there's
more than freight riding our rails". Page 4 shows Jim Wrin, Editor, in the
cab seat of N&W 1776 when it was dedicated at the VMT recently.

I old the Brethren about something "near and dear" to them that was
discussed at the Roanoke Chapter NRHS Board Meeting on Tuesday night, the
Virginian roses at the Station. We have authorized the Lake Spring Garden
Club of Salem to take some "cuttings" from the rose bush, to establish a
"back up", just in case the original vine is injured or destroyed during
Phase II of Construction at the Station. This will also allow us to have
several sources of these precious beauties for future use, such as more
bushes at the Station, a possible fund raiser, or gifts for special people.
Landon, Raymond and Wis remembered the roses blooming at the Station since
the 1950s and speculated that they were planted by a previous Station Agent.

Our waitress Princess lives in Union Hall, VA on Smith Mountain Lake.
Raymond East asked her if she had to join a union to be able to live

I passed on to the Brethren something I found in my notes that Keith
Sowder, VGN Clerk, once told me. He said a friend of his tried a new
salad-and-wine diet. Seems that in the first 30 days, he lost 10 pounds AND
his drivers permit! He also said he bought his girlfriend a new "mood "
ring. "When the ring is blue, she is OK...when there is a mark on my
forehead shaped like the ring, she is NOT!"

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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