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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 16 08:25:33 EDT 2013

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed a Happy Birthday card for
Greely Wyatt, former VGN Electric Foreman at Mullens. Greely is known far
and wide in Virginian circles as the "guru" of VGN electrics and Fairbanks
Morse diesels. He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about the
electrical systems of VGN locomotives. Greely turns 87 this Saturday.

Passed around for the Brethren to peruse was the NRHS winter 2013
"Bulletin" magazine. Mostly it is about RR signals, old and new. Pages
26-27 shows NS color position signals at Vaughn Tunnel; page 30-31 shows
Litwar and Nagatuck, WV versions. My favorite is the old "high ball" signal
on page 8 that was in service on the Maine Central from 1875 until about

I told the Brethren about working Rail Day at the Virginia Museum of
Transportation last Saturday, giving rides safely to hundreds of rail fans
behind New Hope Valley RR 0-4-0 oil burning steam tank engine #17. Most
people there really enjoyed the "Hooter" steam whistle blowing crossings
between VMT and 10th Street in Roanoke. The Roanoke Chapter Vice President
Eddie Mooneyham found out what old #6 brakes really were like, when he took
his turn behind the throttle on one trip and put the train in "Emergency".
I was the rear end brakeman on this trip and had to "flag and walk the
3-car train ".

Last Monday's "Roanoke Times" had a couple of "snippets" relating to our
VGN RWY. In the "50 years ago today" section was "Cave Spring pitcher Allen
Grigg pitched a four-hitter and got four hits himself Thursday night - and
lost". This one referred to the son of Walter A. Grigg, former VGN Master
Mechanic and Mechanical Department Supervisor. The second from "100 years
ago today" said "The Virginian (RWY) has received its drinking cups for the
station and trains".

Gracing us with his presence at Rail Day at VMT, and many tall tales, was
retired dispatcher Tommy Duncan from Austinville, VA. Tommy is known all
over the NS System as one of the most colorful dispatchers ever to "bark
out on the wire". He was looking for a VGN tool used in preparation of
sealed envelopes by Clerks to send monies in to HDQ. I asked Wis Sowder
last night if he had such a device and this prompted him and Landon Gregory
to tell about using just such a tool. Wis said they used an long one inch
square section of red wax and melted it on to the back of an envelope (with
monies inside) and then used the sealing device to leave a location
indention on the wax to "seal the deal". Landon remembers lighting a match
to melt the wax. Landon and several of the other Brethren also recalled the
great meals they got at AltaVista for 50 cents that were prepared by Mrs.

The Jewel from the Past is from February 15, 2007: "Cornbread Victory told
us about once having a refrigerator that had a door that would
automatically close when you let it go. He also had a cat named "Gypper".
One day after getting some cold milk out of the fridge and returning for
something else about 3 hours later, he opened the door and there sat
"Gypper" who slowly proceeded to exit the cold box with ease...and I'm not
going to say 'the words cool cat'".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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