Tape coming...

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Aug 28 01:56:00 EDT 2006

To: f_scheer at yahoo.com
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2006 20:41:16 -0400
Subject: Re: Tape coming...
From: "Darla J Galyen" <imsohappy at juno.com>

Frank, you bring back a lot of memories by some of the
things you write about. Once we talked about phones
on the RFP. It may interest you
that on the Virginian, the agent had to set the
dispatcher's phone on a shelf that could be accessed
by a trainman using a switch key to unlock the
door. Also on the VGN the train order board was kept
at stop until a train approached. The engineer would
then have to call for the signal and if there were no
train orders, the board was cleared to proceed. Again
on the VGN, the agent, my grandaddy in particular, had
to rebuild the local battery for the local resonator.
He would throw a knife switch which
would bring the selected line through a local relay to
rejuvenate the signal and thence to the sounder. On
the RFP we had no patch facilities for the Morse
circuits except we could give the wire chief a ground.
In your tape, and by the way thanks, its was
interesting, mention was made of the telegraph office
in Washn, I believe the call for the Southern
was GM. Seems to me the N&W in Roanoke was either GO
or GM. I went to UT in Knoxville one summer and
qualified to work in K office. However my going
there depended on the third shift man going on second
and he reneged so I didn't get work.


I don't know if you witnessed this move. If a car in
the train had to be set off, i.e. put ahead of the
engine, Using a siding, the crew would set the car out
on the mainline, then put the engine back in the
siding. Once behind the car, they would take a pole,
run from the cup on the engine to a similar cup on the
car and then give the car a flying start to clear the
switch to the siding. Then the engine would come out,
couple to the car and place it in the appropriate
location for loading or unloading. Had enough? I love
talking railroad and thank you so much for what you
send me. Take care.


August 28, 2006

Hello, Hubert:

Those are interesting stories about the Virginian
train movements at stations. It sounds like the train
order signal was used as a block signal if it was kept
at stop as its normal position. I vaguely recall that
block signaling came late to the VGN, but I may be

I've never seen poling except in photos. I thought it
was primarily done in yards --mainly in the bowl
tracks to close gaps between cars that didn't couple.
Some yards such as Bluefield employed car riders who
would adjust the handbrake to manage the coupling

At stations, was the operator responsible for the wet
cell batteries used for communications lines, or was
cleaning and renewal taken care of by a signal
maintainer? I also understood that the VGN adopted
use of telephones for dispatching earlier than many
other railroads.

Where was K office in Knoxville? At the Southern or
the L&N station? Also, I'll check with your brother
about the other topic you mentioned.

Good night and good morning,


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