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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Feb 14 08:35:07 EST 2013

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with five of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed a Happy Birthday Card for
Bill Daniel, son of VGN Carman George E. Daniel, Jr, and grandson of VGN
Superintendent George E. Daniel. Bill was born on Saint Valentine's Day

We discussed last weekend's Train Lover's Day at the Virginia Museum of
Transportation when we safely gave about 2,000 rides on our former Powhatan
Arrow coach, lounge car and two cabooses. I also told the Brethren that at
VMT in the Virginian Railway Room beside their picture with the NS VGN
Heritage Locomotive, I have posted an invitation to all to come "take
twenty" with us one Wednesday night.

The Jewel from the Past is from October 5, 2006: "Jimmy Whittaker and Slick
Inge talked about Stella and Maude Whittaker, who are first cousins of
Jimmy, and were telegraph Operators on the Guyandot River Branch. Slick
also mentioned that he recently talked to Phillip Thomas of Wilmington, NC,
who worked as a Clerk at Page". Present Note: Phillip called me last week
and gave me the sad news that he recently lost his wife. While cleaning out
some her stuff, he found a log of his Dad, Don Thomas who was Section
Foreman at Page, an N&W switch key and a VGN switch key. On Monday this
week I received a package from Phillip with all three items in it. More on
this next week.

For Show and Tell, I took four pages from the drawings of the Virginian
Station in Roanoke, when it was built in 1909. Several interesting things
were noted: The ticket window had a shaped black iron grill in front of it.
The original Station had a coal furnace but it was changed out to oil in
1929. The Station had a "House Track" off the Main Line that stubbed just
east of the Express Building and there was a built-in ice box 2' X 3' 6" X
2' 6" deep, lined with wool and having a zinc bottom just above the boiler.
I wondered why they placed an ice box directly above the boiler. One of the
wisest men we have at the N&W Historical Society Archives suggested "maybe
they didn’t' use ice in the winter time and in the summer the boiler was
not used"....

Passed around for the Brethren to peruse was the Spring 2013 "Classic
Trains" magazine. This issue on page 9 listed the top ten longest tangent
tracks in the US in 1946. The N&W Suffolk to Petersburg, VA was #10 at
52.12 miles of straight track. We discussed the longest VGN RWY tangent
track and think it must have been in the Jarrett area. Anyone out there
know where the longest VGN tangent track ran? Dr. Gibson Davis pointed out
on Page 76 a great story about the Southern RWY's Squaw Valley and
President Brosnan wanting to eliminate firemen from diesel locomotives by
attrition. He listed five basic requirements for newly hired firemen:
"Could only be minorities; had to be capable of climbing into the cab of a
locomotive and sitting there; had to be illiterate; were not allowed to
ever touch any of the operating controls and they had to be more than 65
years old".

Landon brought a May 5, 1945 clipping from the "Norfolk Virginian Pilot"
"Virginian puts realism into tiny yard" an article about VGN employees
model for the Virginia Industrial Exposition of May 9-21, 1949. The VGN
employees were William Gordon, Dick Ruddick and Walter McFall. Their model
was called the "Virginian Short Line" and had a 6 stall roundhouse,
turntable, yard office and small yard with VGN steam locomotives. Where is
this model now???

Landon Gregory told us about Cap Carson who worked some as an Operator and
wanted to be a Dispatcher. On one occasion when there were trains
everywhere, and lots of problems, he had not had time to "take twenty".
After several hours of this, Cap proclaimed "ain't no use being behind and
hungry too" so he stopped and ate his dinner. Landon said "he didn't last
long as a Dispatcher".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon

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