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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Sep 10 08:26:11 EDT 2015

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway.  Attending with us from Maryland was
Bob Cohen, who is in town for the work session of the N&W (and VGN)
Historical Society Archives session.  Bob entertained us with many stories
and his wealth of knowledge of the history of railroading.  He impressed
the Brethren with his "stored info" about local railroads in our area in
Rocky Mount, Lynchburg and Danville.  He was not aware of the "and Lima's
on a three mile grade" line in the famous song about the Wreck of the old
97.  Lima, VA is where Landon Gregory grew up just north of Danville.  Bob
did "tease" us with a trivia question "What RR built the line through Lima
originally?" He revealed that the Baltimore & Ohio constructed the line to
Danville but met opposition there.

 For Show and tell I took three items:  October 2015 "Trains",
July/August/September Roanoke Chapter NRHS "Turntable Times" and an article
in the Roanoke paper about Queen Elizabeth.  The "Trains" item most
interesting is on page 10: Don Phillips "We are railfans first".  Don
states in this 611 "comeback" that Wick Moorman "deserves full credit for
bringing back the 611".  Also he is quoted saying "I'm not particularly
interested in seeing the J run anywhere except on former N&W  track".  The
"Turntable Times" is mostly about the 611's return and Phase II
construction of the Virginian Station, starting up again.  The Queen
Elizabeth article "long may she reign" is about her surpassing her
great-great grandmother Queen Victoria this week with 63 years and 7 months
"on the throne".  This prompted me to ask the Brethren what this had to do
with the VGN RWY.  It didn't take them long to mention that Victoria,VA,
the half way point and roundhouse-shop/yard between Roanoke and Sewells
Point, was named for Queen Victoria.  This cause several to speculate if
Greg Elam is going to now change the name of the place to Elizabeth...

 The Jewel from the Past is from October 22, 2008:  "'Abner ' Glass brought
some photos for the Brethren to see.  Included was one of VGN AG 900, some
from his service in Korea and another was a very large ocean ship
'Hundai'.  He supervised the loaders that put coal into ships and this
extra large one got filled only in every other hold.  When the 'Hundai'
left Sewells Point, she proceeded to Brazil and took on iron ore in the
holds not already filled with coal.  After leaving Brazil, something
happened and the ship went aground.  'Abner' said 'the railroad hired
cranes and workers in Brazil to salvage a lot of the coal'.  He talked to
the Brethren a lot about his loading of coal.  He said he could load 55
cars an hour and sometimes 60.  He remembers several times averting 'hot
coal', reported to him by car pecks, to the ground, preventing a major
disaster, if it got into the 'belly of a large ship'.  He also remembers
crews putting protective shields on the air hoses to keep them from melting
on the VGN hoppers when they were run through the car thawing plant in
winter.  He said when there was a lot of ice on the Bay, 'coal loading
would slow down so that the Railway would never have to say it had stopped".

 I do report the good AND bad news.  Last Saturday at the Virginia Museum
of Transportation after the second trip, giving rides, our Alco T-6 #41
shut down.  We found that the 'old girl's' fuel filters were clogged up. By
the time we got new filters, we had to cancel rides for the day.  We plan
to have her up and running again before time for the Candy Cane Express in

 Then there's this:  A farmer was helping a cow give birth when he noticed
his four-year-old son standing wide-eyed by the fence soaking in the whole
event.  After everything was over, the man, realizing this might be a
teaching moment about the birds and the bees, asked his son if he had any
questions.  "Just one,"  gasped the still wide-eyed boy, "How fast was that
calf going when he hit that cow?"

 Time to pull the pin on this one!

 Departing Now from V248,

 Skip Salmon

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