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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jul 7 09:04:45 EDT 2011

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Attending for the first
time from Montgomery County, Maryland, was our friend Bob Cohen. Bob is
an avid rail fan and former fireman of a tourist rail steam engine and
is active in the N&W(and VGN) Historical Society. Bob's questions and
stories entertained the Brethren. Raymond East responded to one of Bob's
accounts by telling us about the three funeral homes in AltaVista, and
how he and his Dad would deliver caskets, with and without bodies, to
them and also transfer bodies from the VGN to the Southern passenger trains.

We signed a Happy Birthday card for James Economy, brakeman who turned
82 yesterday.

The Jewel from the Past is from May 5, 2001: "I shared a story that my
Great Aunt Thelma told me about meeting the VGN passenger train in
Roanoke. She said once as a girl, she remembered going to the Station
and observing a sheriff with several prisoners in chains. She said the
'jailbirds' seemed kind of happy until they saw that engine coming, and
then their faces changed".

Passed around was a neat item Danny Gee sent me entitled "Those
Southerners have a way with words!". It is a list of actual comments
made by South Carolina State Troopers taken off their car videos. The
Brethren's favorite one was "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because
they're new. They'll stretch after you wear them a while". Also passed
around was a photo I took last Saturday at Kumis, V261.5, of an
eastbound grain train passing the famous barn. The unusual thing about
this photo is that it shows the section of concrete ties that the N&W
added here after the merger. I have posted this photo on this site under
"Skip's Photos". Another photo was passed showing the first train
through Minot, North Dakota after the recent flood waters receded. To
see this photo go to:

We talked about the recent drive by VMT to raise funds to paint the N&W
SD-45 #1776 in the original red, white, and blue bi-centennial colors.
We agreed that if the VGN had not merged in 1959 and was still around in
1976, an EL-2b would be the perfect candidate for the VGN's version.
Some felt that the VGN would have had SD-45s also by then, and it would
have been a "real horse race" to see which would be the best....

The ebay sales this time includes: "The VGN in Color" for $20.50; VGN
torch for $75.99; Tidewater 1, 2, and 3 "Engineering Record" of VGN
$50.99 for each; VGN Safety First sign(without bullet holes) $428.13;
and a 1954 VGN Annual Report $35.89.

I recently found out that one of our Brethren, Robert Glass, who lives
in Norfolk and "Takes Twenty" with us, has been nominated for Norfolk's
"Clean City Hero" award for 2011. Way to go "Little Abner".

Also passed around was the August 2011 "trains" magazine. This issue has
a great story on page 12 "Locomotives: Why go heavy?". Quoted is NS
assistant vice president-mechanical Don Graab "Our units are used on
coal train on the Pocahontas Division and we have found this heavyweight
strategy to be effective". EMD and GE added steel plates to the interior
of a locomotive to increase weight. Also mentioned in the article were
the Fairbanks-Morse diesels that the VGN had, as the exception. "FMs
used concrete to the consternation of one scrap dealer, who purchased
retired FMs assuming every ton of their weight came from steel".

Then there's this: "Two priests died at the same time and met Saint
Peter who said 'I'd like to get you guys in now, but our computer is
down. You'll have to go back to Earth for about a week, but you can't go
back as priests. So what else would you like to be?'. The first chose to
go as an eagle, 'soaring above the Rocky Mountains'. The second asks
'Will any of this week 'count'? 'No Peter says, the computers are down'.
'In that case I've always wanted to be a stud.' 'So be it', St. Peter
says, and the priests disappear. A week goes by, the computer is fixed
and the Lord tells St. Peter to recall the two priests. 'Will you have
any trouble locating them? he asks'. 'The first one should be easy, he's
somewhere over the Rockies flying with the eagles. But the second one
could prove more difficult" 'Why, asked the Lord'. 'He's on a snow tire,
somewhere in North Dakota'.

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon



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