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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 27 08:10:30 EDT 2010

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. I showed the Brethren
photos of the new banners provided by Ken Miller that I placed on the
Roanoke Station announcing the 100 year anniversary of her opening. They
are Virginian orange with a blue and white VGN logo and 1910-2010 dates.
I also gave the Brethren the good news that we just got another $250,000
grant for the Station's Restoration!

Passed around also was the latest "Trains" magazine which has an article
"Amtrak plans photo program" which outlines the new policy of Amtrak for
rail fans to photograph trains from their platforms. Now you must
"notify Amtrak officials BEFORE taking pictures".

Speaking of pictures, I gave the Brethren the sad news that we have lost
one of the most famous and best photographers of our time, August A.
Thieme, Jr. August took the westbound last Saturday at the age of 84. I
was fortunate to be a friend of his and spoke to him about his Virginian
photographs on several occasions. My last meeting with him was at an N&W
(and VGN) Historical Society Archives Work Session last year. I had the
honor of helping him find some data that he needed as well as sharing a
photo album of old VGN photos with him. I showed the Brethren two of his
most famous photos that are in the Archives: A July 23, 1949 meeting of
BA #507 with PA #212 at the Roanoke Station showing the original JK
Tower and an August 4, 1947 photo of the Blue Ridge Stone 0-4-0T tank
engine #32 at Blue Ridge, VA. He had promised me that he would try to be
at our ribbon cutting ceremony of our Restored Station.....

Also passed was an N&W magazine of November 1941 given to me by a good
SCV friend last week. This edition has the brand new J Class #600 on the
cover, posed at Roanoke Shops. It was the last magazine before the
bombing of Pearl Harbor and our joining WWII. One article stood out,
about how N&W had began using welded rail at main line crossings and

The ebay report this time includes the sale of: Slide of 2-8-8-2 VGN #
741 for $52.11; 1961 H. Reid hardback for $37.06; VGN Railway trust
plate for $113.02; Slide of 212/507 for $30.00; and a 1921 Westinghouse
Princeton to Roanoke air brake test train book for $52.79.

I told the Brethren about last week's Norfolk Southern news release
where they announced that NS has won the 21st consecutive E. H. Harriman
Award for employee Safety. "2009 was the safest year EVER for
railroads." NS won the gold; CSX the silver and UP the bronze. Ruf
Wingfield remembered that about 1950 the VGN started their safety
program by making C. W. Dowdy Superintendent of Safety. His office was
in the Roanoke Yard Office Building. (Ruf is still in rehab and can not
be in the meetings with us yet, so I talk to him every Wednesday, and
give him a "briefing").

The Jewel from the Past, like one in Jeff Sander's Walthers, Premier 23
jewel Vanguard is from May 20, 2004: "Slick Inge said that there were a
lot of brothers who worked for the Virginian. When the three Sowder
brothers Basil, Wis, and Keith were assigned to work the same 3-11 shift
in Roanoke, Mr. Strickland, Superintendent said 'I don't want this to
happen; if there were a death in the family, I would have to shut the
railway down'".

A "Roanoke Times" last Monday "100 years ago today" snip-it was shown:
"Two of the four new cars for the Salem division of the Roanoke Railway
and Electric Company arrived yesterday morning over the Virginian and
the big buff and lemon colored coaches attracted the attention of all
who passed the station during the day". Wis Sowder remembered these
street cars, and yes, he agreed that they were u-g-l-y.

This prompted me to ask Wis, who is a gentleman farmer at Poages Mill, a
question that I heard recently: What is a protractor? He answered "an
instrument for measuring and laying out angles". NOT: It is an expensive
John Deere.....

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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