Answers for Abram -- Divisions and Lynchburg

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Jun 28 23:27:30 EDT 2017

Back on May 25, Abram asked some questions about divisions on the N&W in
1893 based on entries in the June edition of the Official Guide. While not
direct answers to those questions, the archives shed some light on when
things first changed regarding divisions.

In a box of subject files in GOB East from 1897 was a folder on
"Re-divisioning" with a report to the Executive Committee from President
Kimball. Another file contained the resolutions to be presented to the
Board of Directors to implement the changes proposed by Kimball.

The biggest change was the reorganization of the operating structure of the
Norfolk & Western Railroad. Kimball wrote, "When organized in 1881 the 428
miles of railroad belonging to the Company was, for the convenience of
management, divided at Lynchburg into two divisions of 214 miles, each in
charge of a Division Superintendent who reported to the General Manager.
Each of these divisions was sub-divided, the Eastern Division at
Petersburg, 83 miles from Norfolk, and the Western Division at Radford,
about midway between Lynchburg and Bristol."

He pointed out how the railroad was growing, especially in the Western
Division. He said a good division superintendent needed to make frequent
trips over the line to be familiar with operations and to meet with
shippers. Kimball said:

It is believed that much better results can be accomplished by a
re-divisioning of the line, and in anticipation of the completion of the
Clinch Valley Division, about 115 miles in length, during the year 1888, I
recommend that the line be divided into five divisions as follows:-

Eastern Division,
  from Norfolk to Crewe, This including the Lambert's Point & City Point
Branches, will be a total mileage of 143.41 miles

Roanoke   "
  from Crewe to Roanoke, including the Blue Ridge Branch, 136.60 miles

New River   "
  from Roanoke to Bluefields, 105.80 miles

Western   "
from Radford to Bristol, including the Cripple Creek Extension and
branches, 154.08 miles

Clinch Valley   "
from Bluefields to Norton, including all branches to coal mines 142.27 miles

Total   682.16 miles

The re-divisioning of the line will necessitate the construction at both
Crewe and Bluefields, of an engine house, turn table, small repair shops,
store house, office building, houses for employees, yards and sidings for
the handling and making up of trains, the estimated cost of these
facilities, at each point, being about $130,000. There should also be
erected at Bristol an engine house to accommodate 10 engines, estimated to
cost $15.000.00.

This change also would shift operations from Pocahontas and Flat Top yards
to a new yard in Bluefields (not a typo, that is how the location is
referred to in the report), where trains would be assembled and sent to

Another recommendation was to set the Roanoke Machine Works to building "2
engines per month and 5 freight cars per day of the class for which at the
moment there may be the most pressing necessity, the number of cars to be
increased or decreased or work entirely suspended as the business of the
Company may justify."

The report gives details of the expenditures needed to build facilities
(shops, roundhouses, yards, offices, employee housing, etc.) at the various

The report also confirms an answer to another Abram question about the
location of the passenger station in Lynchburg. From the report:

The members of our Board of Directors are fully acquainted with the retched
facilities now afforded to passenger travel at Lynchburg, which are not
only inconvenient but extremely dangerous. The only location at Lynchburg
suitable for the erection of a union station is upon the ground now
occupied by the present round house and machine shop, which will be vacated
and can be torn down upon the erection of the new facilities at Crewe and
Bluefields. It is proposed to erect a passenger station similar in its
general features to the plan herewith submitted, upon the conditions,
however, that the City of Lynchburg or the citizens should purchase and
donate to the Company the Langhorn property as shown on the plan, which
will cost about $25,000; the cost of improvements to be borne by the
Norfolk and Western Railroad Company but to be used jointly by our Company,
the Virginia Midland and the Richmond and Alleghany, the two latter
companies to pay each one third of the interest on the cost of the
improvements and the estimated value of the real estate; the operating
expenses of the station to be borne jointly by the three Companies; the
control and operation of the station to be governed by the Norfolk and
Western Railroad Company.

In the subject files in the archives are construction contracts for the new
facilities that came about after passage of the resolutions giving Kimball
the OK to proceed. There aren't plans with the contracts, since they are
mainly legal documents that cover what is expected from the various
contractors, but they do offer clues and details about when many things
along the railroad came to be.

The report and Executive Committee resolutions (in various formats) can be
found at

Bruce in Blacksburg
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list