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Fri Jul 2 22:43:02 EDT 2004

Mr. Hamilton,
I appreciate your letter. I can remember my father
telling me about this derailment, especially the
rail-mounted cranes used to lift the locomotive and
cars back into place. However, it is rapidly becoming
a distant memory in my family. Our discussion of it
here makes me wonder if there is a published report
about the causes of the accident, or if there is an
account of the events of that day.

I would enjoy reading any recollections you have about
the details of your investigation and how you reached
your conclusions.

Thank you for contacting me,
Doug Smith 

-- nw-mailing-list at wrote:
> Doug,
> I knew your father, Bruce Smith.  He was Foreman of
> the Passenger Car Shop
> at Roanoke Shops.  After the discontinuance of N &
> W's scheduled passenger
> train service May 1, 1971, his main responsibilities
> were, indeed, business
> cars.
> Starting in June 1982 I was the NS Mechanical
> Department's representative on
> the the three-man NS System Derailment Investigating
> Committee.  If the
> cause of a significant derailment wasn't obvious to
> the first officials on
> the scene, the Committee would be sent to do an
> investigation.
> When the steam locomotive N & W No. 611 excursion
> train out of Norfolk, VA,
> derailed in the Great Dismal Swamp on Sunday, May
> 18, 1986, I was working in
> the Mechanical Department Office Building in
> Roanoke, and I got a call from
> Mr. Hobert Scott, Vice President - Mechanical in
> Norfolk, VA, to call your
> father and tell him that he was to accompny me to
> the derailment site.  Mr.
> Scott wanted your father because he was probably the
> most informed person on
> passenger cars on the NS at that time.  When I
> called your father, he said
> that he had just set down to Sunday dinner and that
> he would drive to meet
> me after he had gotten something to eat. When he
> showed up, we took a
> company car and drove to the derailment site where
> we spent a couple of days
> without finding any mechanical problems with the
> steam locomotive or cars.
> Gordon Hamilton

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