Wilcoe Stories

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Sep 11 10:17:24 EDT 2019

My first promoted position out of the management trainee program in Roanoke
was to the 3rd trick assistant yardmaster position at Wilcoe during the
coal strike in the winter of 1978.  Wilcoe was responsible for both Wilcoe
yard and Auville yard, with an assistant trainmaster on duty at Auville
(sometimes).  Crews at Auville went to Bishop, to Premier and the mainline
around Hull, to Carretta, to Delorme Branch, to Ammonate, to Majestic,
another crew to Delorme, and at this point in time, the 8th Dry Fork's
destination escapes me.

I was getting acquainted with one of our conductors who wanted to know if I
was related to James Earl.  I did not want to be associated with that name
and it occurred to me that I could not type.  Among my duties at Wilcoe was
typing multiple carbon copies of orders for crews on Tug Fork giving them
rights up and down the branch.  The other yardmasters and assistant yard
masters ahead of me could type 80 words a minute with two fingers.  That
was not my skill set.

Just a year before that, maybe months before, a certain Congressional
secretary was exposed for what she was being paid by the Congressman that
employed her.  Typing was not in her skill set.  I told my conductor that I
must be related to Elizabeth because I couldn't type either.  From then on,
my name was Elizabeth.  Whenever this conductors train came off Delorme
Branch he would get on the radio and call me, not using NW protocals, "NW
extra 1640 Eastbound at Delorme to the Dispatcher, over", no, my conductor
called me directly, "Elizabeth, we're coming to ya"  I knew exactly who was

David Ray
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