Translation sought of '50s era terms - and Elwood J. Higley

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Dec 11 09:29:50 EST 2017

On Sun, Dec 10, 2017, at 8:40 PM, abram wrote:

> These were station numbers, which in the case of more important points,
> were letters.
> D is East Radford.  E is Pulaski.  U is Bluefield.  R is Roanoke; N
> Norfolk, S Shenandoah, H Hagerstown,  C Crewe, L Lynchburg and if I recall
> correctly, Williamson was W.  Glade Spring was G.  Conductors used these
> station numbers on their CR-10 wheel reports, handling and delay reports,
> and in their Train Books. Station Numbers were issued by the Accounting
> Department and probably had their origin in the needs of the Car Record
> Office.  You can find them in any edition of the official "List of
> Officers, Agents and Stations."
> For stations of lesser importance numerals were used, loosely indexed to
> the mile posts.  A few I recall were 272 Elliston, 285 Christiansburg, 292
> Walton, 302 Dry Branch, 306 Eggleston, 310 Pembroke, 314 Ripplemeade, 321
> Pearisburg, 330 Glen Lyn, 337 Oakvale, 345 Blake. On the "main line," the
> numbers had no letter prefix, but stations on the Shenandoah Valley carried
> an S prefix; on the Roanoke & Southern an O prefix, and on the Bristol Line
> a P (for Pulaski) prefix.  For instance, Bassett was O-52, Waynesboro was
> S-142, and Wytheville was P-36.
> Of course, you will recognize that that the Radford Division station
> numbers given above do not exactly correspond with the mile posts.  West of
> Roanoke, they are off by about five miles.  I have never determined the
> developmental history of this situation, and it would be a good research
> project for Senator Aitch Bundy. My guess is that the station numbers
> originally corresponded to the mile posts.  But over the years, various
> small realignments of the right-of-way shortened the total length of the
> railroad.  The mile posts were never adjusted to reflect the shorter
> overall distance, but the station numbers were.  (Railroads all over the
> country have miles which are both longer and shorter than 5280 feet.  I
> know of one case, not far from where I am sitting, where the distance
> between two adjacent MP's is just a tad over 2000 feet, due to a
> realignment.)
> I do not recall the mile post situation west of Walton.  The 1902 move of
> the railroad from Schooler Hill to the Low Grade route between Walton and
> Bellspring obviously  knocked a few miles off that route, but I do not
> recall the situation with MP's versus station numbers for that territory.

​The Walton cut-off did change distance but not mileposts. See for research
and comments that have come up on the list in the past, including a link to
a track chart from the '70s that shows the odd "miles" at Walton.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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