moving circa 1920

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Tue Aug 15 09:34:51 EDT 2006

This reminds me of a story that my mother told me. My grandfather was an
engineer on the Pocahontas Division when my mother was born in Williamson in
1905. Awhile afterward, when my grandmother was pregnant with another
child, my grandfather was to relocate to Bluefield, still as an engineer.
The N & W set out a box car in Williamson to transport their household
belongings to Bluefield. My grandfather and some men loaded the box car
without my grandmother's supervision because of her condition. When the
goods were unloaded in Bluefield, my grandmother discovered that the men had
packed her good china in a barrel without proper padding. You can guess
what happened to the china after a 100-mile trip in a plain box car in
ordinary freight service. It was all broken to pieces.

I don't know whether the box car was gratis, but it appears that it may have
common practice for the N & W to provide a box car for employees to use to
move household goods when the employees were transferred.

Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message -----
From: <nw-mailing-list at>
To: <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2006 9:52 PM
Subject: moving circa 1920

I thought that I would pass along a little story about
how the railroad played an important role in folks lives
in the 1920s. Also, it is something that I haven't
heard discussed very often.

My grandfather was born near Eggleston on the Virginian
side of the New River in Giles County. Circa 1920 his family
moved to Vinton. A few months before my grandfather passed
away it crossed my mind that his family probably didn't move
using a moving van. When I asked him about this he said that
his father contacted the railroad and they set off a boxcar
at a nearby siding for them. He could not remember where it
was set off nor on which side of the river. My grandfather,
his dad, and his brothers then used their horses and wagons to
haul all their belongings to the boxcar and loaded them up
themselves. I don't know if this was a full car load or not.
Once packed the railroad moved the boxcar to Roanoke and on to
Vinton. My grandfather gave all indications that it was
set off on an N&W siding near downtown Vinton. So it
is quite possible an interchange between the Virginian and the
N&W was involved. The whole family rode one of the passenger
trains to Vinton and from his recollections arrived at roughly
the same time as the boxcar. His family then unloaded the boxcar
and moved into their new house. Once empty they notified the
railroad and the boxcar was sent off on its next assignment.

Toney Minter

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