Groseclose Wreck with Race Horse Smith...?

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Sun Jul 9 21:35:48 EDT 2006

Scribit Hymie Blackstock:
"Looks like the wreck was a head end collision with a couple 2-8-0's... perhaps it was the head-end collision east of Pearisburg, VA on March 7. 1901..."
The geography doesn't match Pearisburg, Jim. Everything east of Pearisburg is around a high stone bluff.
Old Jasper E. Wilkerson, Radford Division Brakeman who hired in 1915 (I think,) told me that the last piece of single track on the Radford Division was between Curve and Pearisburg. I asked him when that segment had been double tracked and he replied "around 1917."
Please indulge me the telling of a Jasper Wilkerson story, although it is a bit out of context on the present thread. Jasper was a great guy. Imperially slim and very energetic, but he had never taken promotion to Conductor. He always worked the Roanoke-Bristol jobs in my time, and I worked with him frequently. He had, of course, worked many years with my grandfather. I can remember trips when I would be braking the head end and Jasper would be flagging. When we would stop to work at Radford and Pulaski, I would no sooner have the cut made and the switches lined for the set off, than Jasper would arrive from the rear end and be setting brakes. What a workman for a guy approaching 70 !
But on with the story...
Jasper was also very... well, what shall I say... "penurious." "Thrifty," as we Scots would say. Always slept on the caboose and always ate food that he had brought from home. Never went to a restaurant. One time he told me, "Sonny, I've been running into Bristol for more than 50 years, and I never spent more than a dollar in this town on any trip."
Retirement time comes. Mrs. Jasper wants a new house. Jasper summons the real estate agent and the agent squires the Wilkersons around until they find a place suitable to Mrs. Wilkerson. It was in the "Mud Lick" section, south west of Roanoke, which was one of the newer developments at the time, with some nice homes.
The party of three goes to the real estate office to do the paperwork. The real estate agent look at Jasper and says, "Now Mr. Wilkerson, about the mortgage...."
And Jasper shot back, "Mortgage? Mortgage? Ain't going to be no mortgage! How much cash do you want?"
Good times, good people, good memories. All long gone.
-- abram burnett
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