Who Took the Middle Track?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Apr 4 17:30:20 EDT 2013

Who took the middle track? The freight train or the passenger train? I
would assume the freight would take the middle track so that the passenger
train would not have to slow down at all. Also, were all of the middle
tracks long enough to hold a coal train or a hopper train? Also, were the
middle tracks accessible from either main line track? I remember the middle
track at Burkeville, but I was too young to be concerned with these
questions, and I never thought to ask my father about them later.

Bill Mason

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Today's Topics:

1. RE: "Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip
Salmon (NW Mailing List)
2. Re: Norfolk Division middle tracks (NW Mailing List)
3. Re: Norfolk Division middle tracks (NW Mailing List)


Message: 1
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2013 11:00:14 -0400
From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Subject: RE: "Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip
To: "'NW Mailing List'" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Message-ID: <005801ce3145$1cb520e0$561f62a0$@skybest.com>
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Our family are all big Pat Moss fans. It is true her style of painting is
not hyper realism, but in my mind conveys much of the spirit of the
individuals, animals and structures she paints. ON another note, Stephen
Shoemaker in West Jefferson NC, is a local artist who has produced 8 or 9
prints of the Virginia Creeper in various locations in Ashe County. Stephen
has recently published a collection of stories which are illustrated with
his paintings, the cover photo in the link attached is of "Devils Cut" as
the Creeper travels north away from West Jefferson. This is at the spot
where the train struck a small girl playing on the tracks and killed her.

Stephen has also participated in the West Jefferson mural project, I've
attached link to a Google page which shows a variety of photos of the town's

R.D. Williams



From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org
[mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
Sent: Thursday, April 04, 2013 8:05 AM
To: NW Mailing List; Roger Link
Subject: "Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. I told the Brethren about seeing the
new P. Buckley Moss painting of the Virginian Station in Roanoke, that will
be unveiled at a convention in Roanoke later this year. Prints from this
painting will be sold as a fund raiser for the Station Project. I was not
impressed with what the artist saw at the corner of Jefferson and
Williamson, until I researched some of the other PBM paintings. Her painting
of Mr. Jefferson's Monticello gave me more light into what this artist
visions are, and sort of explains the style. More on this later.

Several of the Brethren have seen the US flag on display at the Station now
that we have security and night lighting. Phase II is underway.

I have been told by two sources that the High Iron Southeast Explorers
Excursion train scheduled to travel down the old VGN portion of NS next week
has been canceled.

Passed around for the Brethren to peruse was the May "Trains" Magazine. Most
of this issue is about "Life or death checkup for steam" with a good bit on
the NS 21st Century Steam Program. One interesting article on page 16 is
about the new six-axle units with only four AC traction motors being tested.
This A1A truck configuration brings back memories of the old days. Page 63
has a great shot of the N&W J #611 at Clemson, SC promoting the "Fire Up the
611" rebuild program.

For Show and Tell I took a coloring book that caused a chuckle since the
Brethren are fans of the "Pickles" comic strip in the newspaper. Pickles
grandson let him color in his coloring book but only gave him a white
crayon...then the dog ate it. The Norfolk Southern sponsored Roanoke Chapter
NRHS "Railroading in the Roanoke Valley" coloring book has become a
collector's item since the art work features a lot of N&W and VGN rolling
stock and done quite well. I have one extra if anyone is interested in
having one. Page 4 has VGN Caboose #342 (now at Victoria Rail Park); Page 5
has VGN #4 (last VGN steam loco left now at VMT) and page 26 has VGN ELC

Last week while working at the VGN Station, I observed a fellow walking up
with a camera and we started talking. He is Phillip Miller from Northern
Virginia, who is a VGN fan who reads this report and is interested in our
project. Also that day a gentleman from a Pennsylvania NRHS Chapter stopped
by to take photos.

Passed around was a photo that John McDaniel gave me last Saturday of a
track gang, about 1972. These men worked the Whitethorne District before the
merger and are shown with their N&W Dodge truck. I have posted this photo on
this site under "Skip's Photos" and would like to identify the first three
in the picture. The fourth from the left is Earle H. Doyle. The Brethren
could not ID the other three. If anyone out there can, please let me know.

The Jewel from the Past is from December 7, 2006: "The story of the night
was told by 'Slick' Inge. Seems that twice each month, #3 would bring
paychecks to each location that had a station agent for payment to the
employees. On one of these days, the passenger train was making her way
through Elmore when one could see cars start up from nearby homes and head
toward Mullens to pick up paychecks, Eddie Lawson, VGN Shopman, was known to
'tip an elbow with the fellows' on payday. This day when #3 was spotted, he
headed out the door and was handed a grocery list by his wife. Two days
later, he backed his truck up to the porch and started unloading bags of
groceries. His wife came out the door and exclaimed 'Where in the cat hair
have you been?' He calmly replied, 'I would have been home sooner, if you
hadn't gave me such a long grocery list!'"

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon



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Message: 2
Date: Thu, 04 Apr 2013 12:30:21 -0400
From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Subject: Re: Norfolk Division middle tracks
To: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Message-ID: <4627D6AF-08C6-4290-AD88-5C43141AA80D at verizon.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"


Poe is still there!!

Walter Gay
waltrail1 at verizon.net

On Apr 4, 2013, at 8:22 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:

> Ben -


> I don't know the exact date(s) they were removed, however I'm inclined to

say it was likely sometime in the 1960's. I'd like to know for certain
myself. The purpose of the center sidings were to allow passenger trains to
bypass slower coal trains and time freights without occupying the opposing
mainline track. There were middle tracks along the Norfolk Division
mainline at the following locations:


> Juniper (full length still in use)

> Myrtle

> Dwight/Zuni

> Ivor (a short section still remains in use) Wakefield Waverly Poe

> Sutherland Ford Wilsons Blackstone Nottoway Burkeville Pamplin

> Appomattox Bedford Montvale Villamont Bonsack


> Jeff Hawkins


> www.railsinvirginia.com

> www.railfirephotography.com



> From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>

> To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>

> Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2013 5:36:51 AM

> Subject: Norfolk Division middle tracks


> Can anyone tell me when the middle tracks were removed on the Norfolk

> Division? I have seen where there used to be middle tracks at Myrtle,

> Dwight, and Waverly that I've noticed.


> Thanks,

> Ben Blevins

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Message: 3
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2013 10:13:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Subject: Re: Norfolk Division middle tracks
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Message-ID: <8CFFF55A8CDF6BC-724-1376 at webmail-vm015.sysops.aol.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Ben -
I suspect that the majority of the middle tracks were removed AFTER the
permit system became effective (about 1975). Prior to the permit system,
mines shipped coal to Lamberts Point without ever being sold. The loads
would linger at Norfolk for days as transhipers tried to find a market.
Although Norfolk had ability to store 24,000 cars or more on the Terminal,
backlogs would mean filling the middle tracks with coal until space was made
available or until the stored coal was needed at the pier. With the
reduction in 1st class schedules, it meant that fewer inferior trains were
required to clear the main track, allowing additional storage for the
yet-to-be-sold coal. The permit system allowed N&W to supply empty hoppers
only if the coal had been pre-ordered. Railroads collected a rent on cars
called demurrage.
For merchandise traffic, the receiver got two free days to unload before
demurrage was assessed, but for Lamberts Point coal, it was ten free days.
The permit system improved hopper car utilization and reduced the need for
middle tracks. I'll review some timetables and see if I can give you a
better date.

Incidentally, despite all those middle tracks east of Poe, eastbound coal
traffic rarely cleared in the middle tracks. Maybe they'd become
insufficient in length.
The Crewe dispatchers had a rule of thumb -- if a coal train didn't have a
90 minute lead on No. 4, it would be held at Disputanta, the crossovers at
the east end of traffic control. So it was possible for a coal train to be
held at Disputanta for a No. 4 that was just approaching Blackstone.

Not a middle track, but where the VGN had paralleled N&W between Virso and
the Abilene Connection, N&W used the former VGN main line to store coal.
With regularity, Crewe would call a job to go to Virso to dig out coal.
Problem was that orders called for specific cars to be released for Lamberts
Point. With a capacity to store 400 or so cars, it meant holding onto maybe
50 or 60 loads to set one car out on the Virso Connection, then putting the
rest back. These crews regularly worked
up to the limit, leaving Virso in time to arrive Crewe before expiring.
Harry Bundy

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