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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Sep 13 07:05:13 EDT 2012

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with nine of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. The talk of the night centered around
the new large sepia photo of the Brethren, standing in front of the NS
Heritage unit #1069, painted in Virginian Railway Trainmaster colors. It
was placed on the wall last Friday, next to where we have met in the
Country Cookin' for the past 8 years, and matches the other photos of local
history placed there by the restaurant's interior decorator.

For Show and Tell, I wore a pocket T-Shirt that will be available soon, and
sold on our November 10-11, 2012 Excursion trips to Bristol, VA/TN and
Shenandoah, VA. This Roanoke Chapter NRHS maroon shirt has on the back a
map of the newly merged N&W and VGN with N&W and VGN logos. I should have
them available at the Virginian Day at VMT on September 22, 2012 along with
"Friends of the Virginian Railway" caps. VMT is cleaning up and repainting
the last VGN steam engine left, SA 0-8-0 #4, and hopes to have her finished
by then. There will be some new items in the "Virginian, Roanoke's Other
Railway" Room also. Come join the Brethren and I if you can.

Continuing from last week, the Jewel from the Past, like those in Chad
Jordon's Hamilton 992B, is from April 27, 2006: "I asked if there were any
particular problems with lightening, since there were 'hot' wires strung
all over the VGN from Mullens to Roanoke. 'Cornbread' Victory remembered
once VGN Brakeman Floyd Schyler was taking a shower in the yard office
locker room, when the building was struck by lightening. Floyd ran out
naked, and shaking. Jimmy Whittaker said he heard the yelling and Floyd was
shaking so badly, that no one wanted to touch him, thinking 'maybe he was
still charged up'".

H. Bundy asked me to quiz the Brethren about whether they had seen or heard
of any plane parts ever being found in VGN hopper cars at Sewells Point,
since there were several incidents of planes crashing at the nearby Norfolk
Naval Base? Glen McLain said the Navy fighter planes had an antenna wire
that rolled out with a weight on it and sometimes they would forget to
'reel it in' before landing and the weight would snap off and fall into the
hoppers. Landon Gregory remembered that the Naval Base was just across
Admiral Taussig Blvd. from Sewells Point, and planes would sometimes clip
the Base fence and plane parts would fall off into the yard.

Early on Monday morning this week, three unmanned NS locomotives, 8109,
2835, and 9309, "escaped" from Shaffers Crossing and were derailed just
east of the Park Street (actually 5th Street) Bridge in downtown Roanoke,
beside the Virginia Museum of Transportation. No one was injured during the
incident. Passed around was a photo I took that day of the old Virginian
Railway Derrick B37, still in NS service as NS 540037, assisting in the re
railing of the locomotives. I have posted this photo on this site under
"Skip's Photos". This VGN B37 was purchased by the VGN just before the 1959
merger, and is one of the few "Big Hooks" still in rail service in the
United States!

Also passed around was a booklet I found at the N&W (and VGN) Historical
Society work-day at their Archives last week. This little booklet entitled
"Our Railroad, Norfolk and Western Railway" lists many facts and a short
history of the railway. Several humorous cartoons are shown to promote
company pride and interesting facts include "there are 72 tunnels on our
railroad with a combined total length of 13.16 miles". This book was put
out in the late 1940s when almost every home was heated with coal. One fact
stated is that the Pocahontas Field coal (including that hauled by the VGN)
had a heating value of between 13,600 and 16,600 BTUs, among the very best
coal ever mined in the US. "When working at maximum output, a Class "A"
steam locomotive burns seven tons of coal an hour...more than the total
burned in the furnace of a small home during the entire winter".

Landon Gregory passed around several pages of "blond jokes" including "A
blond goes to the vet with her goldfish". "I think it's got epilepsy", she
tells the vet. The vet takes a look at the fish and says, "It seems calm
enough to me". The blond says, "Wait, I haven't taken it out of the bowl
yet". Then there's my favorite: A blond is in the bathroom and her husband
shouts: "Did you find the shampoo?" She answers, "Yes, but I'm not sure
what to do...it's for dry hair, and I've just wet mine."

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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