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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Apr 12 12:06:43 EDT 2012

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with six of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. There was a lot of
discussion about last Friday's front and back page article about the
Restoration of the Virginian Station in Roanoke with 8 color
photographs. This is probably the biggest article ever in the "Roanoke
Times" about the Virginian Railway, and the Brethren were proud to read it.

For Show and Tell, I took the 2011 Norfolk Southern, 1980 Norfolk and
Western, and the 1958 Virginian, Annual Reports. It was interesting to
see the differences in the three. One thing that stood out was the
operating ratios, the expense it takes to make a dollar's profit from
each. 1958 VGN: 51 cents to make a dollar; 1980 N&W: 78 cents to make a
dollar, and 2011 Norfolk Southern: 71 cents to make a dollar. The
Brethren especially enjoyed looking at the 1958 VGN Report. This is the
one I have had over 60 former VGN employees sign. They remembered many
signers, who have since "taken the westbound".

Also shown were photos of the two latest Norfolk Southern Heritage
locomotives, fresh out of the paint shop: Central of Georgia #8101 and
Norfolk and Western #8103. Most of the Brethren liked the Central of
Georgia, but as they did back in 1965, did not like the Pevler blue,
hamburger logo N&W scheme.

The Jewel from the Past is from December 22, 2005: "I asked R. R.
McDaniel about sanding the electrics, and he said all of the spouts were
on the side. He recalled that after sanding, the electrics were placed
in the Motor Barn for servicing. A large cut-out switch dis-connected
the overhead wire from the 11,000 volts. Workers would lock the big
switch open and carry the key to the lock on a ring around their neck,
when they were on top of the electric locomotives, so no one else could
close the switch and energize the line above them. He said one day he
saw a laborer climbing the steps on one of the electrics with the key
ring around his neck, but the switch was still in, making the line hot!
He yelled 'the wire is still hot'. He got a reply, 'But, Captain, I got
the ring around my neck'"...

One discussion was about Gordon Hamilton's 1912 "Bluefield Daily
Telegraph" story about a $75 Million bond issue to extend the VGN 250
miles west to Cincinnati, OH. This also included Tom "Saltwater"
Salmon's email comment and Gerry Albers' rebuttal. Most of the Brethren
were glad the bond issue was never passed, and that their line was not
extended westward.

I passed around a current "Bluefield Daily Telegraph" article of April
6, 2012 "Train halt in moment of silence for 29 victims of UBB mine
disaster" (north of Beckley). On Thursday, April 6, 2012 shortly before
3 PM, all trains stopped in the Bluefield Yard to honor the 29 miner's
memory. Way to go NS!

To answer questions form Russell Stiff, the Administrative Offices of
the Virginian Railway were on the 5, 6, and 7 floor of the Union Station
in Norfolk, VA, according to our friend Myron White who worked on the
6th floor there, in the Freight Claims Department. He said the
President's Office was on the 7th floor. Also the VGN Operator at Walnut
Ave Tower (JK) controlled the crossing of the N&W and VGN at the diamond
at that location. Landon Gregory said the VGN Operator usually knew of
the approaching N&W traffic, and lined up and signaled for the move.

Also passed around was the March-April 2012 "NS-Biz" magazine which
highlights the new "On track for the future" 5-year program that
includes global positioning of all rolling stock and many more methods
of making the line more efficient.

I was able to tell the Brethren that in the Fall this year, the Roanoke
Chapter NRHS will run excursion trains on November 10 to Spencer, NC (NC
Museum of Transportation) and November 11 (Veteran's Day) to Shenandoah,
VA from Roanoke. The Saturday train will use the old Virginian between
Roanoke and Hurt, VA and on to the old Southern Piedmont Division and on
to Spencer.

Remember: Dogs will come when they are called; Cats have answering machines!

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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