N&W in 1903 -- Bad Water

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sat Feb 23 12:37:22 EST 2008

Gordon, You are SO RIGHT in Your description of 1903 -- and 2008 and Beyond, for that matter -- newspaper reporters! We had to -- and they still have to -- write about Every Subject assigned to them by Our/Their City Editors!! Especially on those short-staffed weekends and holidays. We Are Supposed to know Something about EVERYTHING. -- That is why Our B.A. Journalism School Educations are so broad. Thanks for Defending one of my several paid professions. "Once a reporter, always a reporter," I always say! BEST Wishes, Lloyd.
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org Subject: Re: N&W in 1903 - Bad Water Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2008 11:07:39 From: nw-mailing-list
Sam, I suspect that you are right about the loose use of the word "filter." This points up how newspaper articles sometimes have to be taken with a grain of salt. Small town reporters had to be versatile. Back in 1903 a reporter might be writing one hour on features of a new hospital, the next hour on the results of a police investigation, the next hour on the latest locomotives and the next hour on the problem of cows roaming the streets. Gordon Hamilton
From: NW Mailing List To: NW Mailing List Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 9:20 PM Subject: Re: N&W in 1903 -- Bad Water
Thinking back to my high school chemistry, I'm not sure any "filter" would remove dissolved sulfur from water. I know the railroad did resort to chemical treatment of the water, which may be what the writer is referring to. There's a bit of irony here in that the reason sulfur became such a problem is because it leached out of coal mines that provided the railroad with its economic life blood and from the attendant slag heaps. Sam Putney From:NW Mailing ListTo:N&W Mailing 1ListSent:Thursday,February 21, 2008 9:23 PM Subject:N&W in 1903-Bad Water
New Reason Assigned for Shortage of Motive Power
Norfolk and Western Will Erect Filter Plants at Tanks Where Water is Taken From Mountain Streams
The Norfolk and Western Railroad Company is preparing to expend $200,000 in the erection of filters along its line through the coal fields as a result of an experience it has just passed through. The Norfolk and Western is one of the best equipped coal roads in the country, and for more than a month the men who get coal over it could not understand the delay in the shipment of coal.
It was owing to a lack of motive power, but what has caused the shortage of engines puzzled the officers of the road for a time.
The motive power had been increased, and to their surprise engines that had been in service for but sixty and ninety days were turned into the repair shops with their boilers completely wrecked. The investigation started showed a state of affairs never before encountered in railroading. The water supply for the engines in the coal district of the Norfolk and Western is secured from the mountain streams and is pumped into water tanks. The water contains sulphur [sic] and mineral substances which sink to the bottom of the streams.
When the streams are high none of these substances are gathered up when the water is pumped into the tanks, but recently the country has experienced a drought and the streams became very low. The result was that the sulphur and mineral substances were pumped into the tanks. The sulphur had a terrible effect on the boilers of the engines, and within a short time many were in the shops for repairs. It is said that in many cases the boilers were nearly eaten out by the water. It is this that has caused the shortage of motive power on the Norfolk and Western recently, and has brought up a most interesting question among railroad men.
The work of putting up the filters is now in progress, and the engineers say that the water can be filtered so that it will not in any way injure an engine boiler.
Within the past week there has been a time in the streams from which the Norfolk and Western draws its supply of water, and no difficulty is being experienced, but it is feared that the same difficulty will occur if they fall, and for that reason the work of erecting the filters is being pushed energetically [Apparently something was omitted about the streams being full within the past week.]
Bluefield Daily Telegraph December 13, 1903 Gordon Hamilton
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