"BA" Tower location?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Nov 27 23:25:45 EST 2016

Abram, Bruce, Ed,

Wilson's was located in what community? Lafayette was up the river and 
Kumis was across and down the river, and both were on the VGN.

A long shot, but happened to find this...

Go to:

Pan right (east) past Elliston to where the N&W main crosses the Roanoke 
County line and zoom in. Following property lines, note the somewhat 
rectangular tract just back west of the county line on the south side of 
the main line where Cove Hollow Road turns south from having paralleled 
the main. Note that the tract is not annotated, but appears contiguous 
with the NS right of way, and the back lot line appears to parallel the 
tracks. Cove Hollow Road cuts across the front, but on a modern-looking 
contortion of an alignment to move its intersection with a relocated US 

What if: the station named "Balls" or "BA" stood here, where Cove Hollow 
Road crossed at grade, to intersect with the predecessor to US 11 just 
across the tracks, adjacent to the community once known as Balls, Va.? I 
can understand why the name didn't stick. Suggested locations for "BA" 
Tower have been from Singer west to 1.3 miles east of Elliston. With 
Ball's Hole at MP N-274.3, this location is at MP N-274.7 about 1.5 
miles west of Singer and about 3 miles east of Elliston and, 
incidentally, was centered between opposing signals.

The archived photo may have helpful clues.

Grant Carpenter

On 11/21/2016 3:48 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
Mr. Ken Miller's masterful and prodigious compilation of Telegraph Calls 
from Time Tables going back to 1906, shows "BA" Tower somewhere in this 
area, last appearing in the T.T. of October 18, 1908. It was no doubt 
closed once automatic block semaphore signals were installed. The N&W 
archives holds a nice photograph of this structure, which was octagonal 
in shape and faced with wooden shake shingles. It was obviously only a 
Block Station and Train Order Office, and had no interlocking machine. 
Exactly where did that Tower stand, with respect to present-day Singer 
and Ball's Hole ?  Is this structure the "BA" office which Mr. King 
yesterday mentioned, being shown 1.3 miles east of Elliston in his 1897 
Time Table? If so, it stood approximately 7200 feet west of what you/we 
have now agreed on as MP 274.3 for the bottom of Ball's Hole.

Finally, I consulted some 1920s and 1930s Radford Division Time Tables, 
and noted that the name Singer does not appear. Apparently an 
interlocking was first established there when CTC was installed in... 
what... the 1950s? And when one realizes that, it raises the further 
question: Where did they get the name "Singer" ?

One parting comment. In checking a recent NS Virginia Division Track 
Chart, I notice there is a four mile long signal block at Elliston. 
Ouch! How would you like to drag two miles of train through that block 
on a Restricting Signal ?

Job well done, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Akers. Take two days off... with pay !

-- abram burnett

On 11/16/2016 9:55 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:
> A look at my 1897 Employees Timetable reveals that Balls was a 24-hour 
> office located 1.3 miles east of Elliston, which was also a 24-hour 
> office.  Double track only existed, then, from Radford to 
> Christiansburg.  They would soon put in double track from Roanoke to 
> Elliston; that’s probably when the office at Balls was closed.
> EdKing
> *From:* NW Mailing List
> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 16, 2016 8:47 AM
> *To:* NW Mailing List
> *Subject:* Re: Where?
> In the early days when westbound trains had to be pushed up Alleghany 
> Mountain, “Balls” was a telegraph office about three miles east of 
> Elliston.  There was a sharp dip in the area which was known as “Balls 
> hole”.  The dip was gradually filled in over the years.
> As the westbound grade up to Christiansburg was eased over the years, 
> the westbound pushers were no longer needed.  Neither was the office 
> at Balls.
> EdKing

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