What did the box say?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Apr 21 11:18:53 EDT 2014


I have a vague recollection that the N&W LC-1 and LC-2 electrics had air whistles. I have a more positive recollection that the VGN EL-3a electrics had air whistles from hearing them frequently in my childhood when I lived a couple of miles from the VGN mainline through Princeton, WV. Records in the NWHS Archives show that at least some of the EL-3a electrics were eventually equipped with air horns, probably after favorable experience with the air horns on the later EL-2b electrics.

Gordon Hamilton
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From: NW Mailing List
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Sent: Monday, April 21, 2014 8:37 AM
Subject: What did the box say?

Most of us are familiar with the sounds of contemporary diesels and for those who are not, they are readily available to be experienced firsthand. Just grab a recording device and a good book, find an accessible stretch of mainline and wait a while (WARNING: this activity is known to be addictive). When it comes to early diesels and “modern” steam, there are many video and sound recordings available and for some extra expense/effort you can still have a first-hand audio experience at tourist railroads and various other locations. Hopefully next year the 611 will be speaking to us again.

As we work our way further back in time, our options become more limited. We have photographs of long-departed N&W locomotives back to the 1800s, but what are the earliest sounds that have been preserved? Link and others made sound recordings in the 50s, but did anyone capture the sounds of LCs before they disappeared? What kind of clinks and clunks did those jack shaft mechanisms produce? I believe the units had bells that were probably like their steam counterparts but what noise did they make when they approached crossings? Did they have whistles or horns? Does anybody know of any captured audio. Does anyone’s personal memory extend back 70 years to tell us what they can recall?

Jim Cochran


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