Alemite at Randolph St in 1923

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sun Aug 19 10:49:08 EDT 2018

In the book about the class A 2-6-6-4 there is a photo made from the third floor of the Motive Power building looking down on the first A just out of the shop gate; in the background there are folks loading a Southern RPO car and beyond that the old Randolph Street tower.  The date is May 8, 1936.


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Subject: Re: Alemite at Randolph St in 1923

Only a month late replying to this post.
FYI, the concrete foundation for the original Randolph Street Interlocking still stands, or more properly, lies, as a monument to the past. It is just east of the Williamson Rd. bridge (formerly Randolph Street) and west of the passenger car shed.
Good investigative reporting!

J Sandermann

On Friday, July 20, 2018, 3:53:28 PM EDT, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote: 

One of the things I have long sought, but so far without fruition, is the date for the construction of the original interlocking and tower at Randolph Street, Roanoke, and a technical article on the subject.

Indeed, it seems that photographs of the original Randolph Street Tower are almost non-existent.  Here is one I found in the March 1924, issue of Railway Signaling, in a one-column article touting the virtues of lubricating switches with Alemite.  No further N&W details were given, only the photograph.

If I have my geographical bearings correct, that photograph looks from the Shenandoah Division tracks, towards the depot.  The dining car commissary would be to the right, and the board fence at left shields from our view the RMW (Roanoke Machine Works, a.k.a. "East End Shops") complex.

One of my great desires in life was always to use a pneumatic Alemite gun and play at lubricating grease fittings.  If anyone has such a tool, please invite me to try it out.

Photo by K. Miller.  Man in white gloves has been identified as Section Foreman H. Bundy;  aristocratic man in black hat identified as J. Blackstock.  That poor kid bucking the Alemite gun is identified as young Jerome Sandermann, who later became a successful attorney in Roanoke and practiced law under the name Jeff Sanders.

>From this photo we can determine one thing:  that the "old" Randolph St was an electro-pneumatic interlocking plant, not a manual one.  Which probably means we can confine our search for its history to sometime after about1905.

No lo contendre, ex parte,

     -- abram burnett

                  Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
Successor to the MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH LINE of 1844


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