Line South of Roanoke

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Mon Jun 27 09:02:29 EDT 2005

Mr. Badgley,
The line you see is the Winston Salem District of the Virginia Division. Because of its profile and multiple curvatures, it is known locally as the "Punkin' Vine". The line runs approximately 122 miles to Winston Salem and closely parallels US 220 in several places from Roanoke to south of Stoneville, N.C. The train you saw with a 4-axle high-hood was a local probably out of Roanoke, depending on where you saw it. The coal train you saw was probably, but not a certainty, a Duke Power unit train to Belews Creek, N.C. power plant. Belews Creek is just north of Winston Salem. These are 90-car trains and because of their weight and the gradients, require a pusher. Those were the two units you saw on the rear and are operated by an engineer. Obviously, the train also has an engineer and conductor on the head end as well. Some roads refer to this type of extra power as helpers. On Conrail the term was Snappers. On NS and previously on N&W, they are referred to as pushers, an ominous term in today's drug culture, but descriptive in what they do. There are also unit grain trains that move south to Welcome, North Carolina to CPC International. These trains also require pushers. Additionally, there are new automobiles moving to the distribution center in Walkertown, N.C. Usually, there is at least one of these trains a day, depending on the new car market. Then there's also the furniture business in the Martinsville-Bassett area. Not much new furniture, but inbound components. All and all, a busy line for a single-track, CTC territory with long passing sidings.
Thanks for your interest.
Don Corbin
----- Original Message -----
From: nw-mailing-list at
To: NW-Mailing-List at
Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2005 2:09 AM
Subject: Line South of Roanoke

I drive south to visit family in Greensboro, NC about once a year. We go I-81 and pick up 220 in Roanoke. Heading south out of Roanoke is a single track line that snakes its way
south. Twice I have seen trains on it. Once with a High Hood 4-axle geep and a short consist. The other was 50 or so hopper cars with 3 units pulling and 2 pushing. I would
like to know anything anyone can share about this branch. Where does it go? What was it
built for? What kind of traffic does it handle now? It looks well maintained. Thanks.

David Badgley


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