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Sat Jul 3 08:01:24 EDT 2004

Well, not to correct someone's memory, the locomotive was not derailed 
in the 1986 derailment, I believe, and Gordon can correct me, that the 
derailment began after the 6th head car of the train. The 611 and those 
cars remained on the rails.

There was an FRA published report, I had a copy, it was borrowed and 
now lost. I believe that the government's determination was faulty 
track maintenance was the ultimate cause.

Ken Miller
On Jul 2, 2004, at 10:43 PM, nw-mailing-list at wrote:

> 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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