CPL history lesson

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Jan 2 17:09:36 EST 2007

Just prior to the transition to color position lights, N&W had six
indications which
required six amber lights displayed three each on two targets (or signal
At the time the amber lights were in service, there were no
Candidates came out and qualified as firemen -- after a physical and visual
examination. The signals may have initially been confusing to those
for fireman, but there comes a time when you gotta know the rule book.

For those that have heard this, excuse me. The late Carl Lewey was Road
of Engines on the Norfolk Division at the time of the VGN merger. The road
coached the VGN engine service employees, acclimated them to the N&W
and familiarized them with N&W territory because VGN crews would have to
begin operating on N&W Abilene and east. There was one character, quite
well known
to the Virginian people, that just didn't grasp N&W signal theory. Mr.
Lewey caught
him on a drag to Norfolk one night. East of Poe on the 62-mile tangent, Mr.
began to quiz the engineer, "now if there were three yellow lights in a
position on the next signal, what would that mean ?" The engineer told the
Foreman that he didn't know, but he always kept a rule book in his grip and
that if
he came upon a signal he didn't recognize, he'd refer to the rule book.

The October 30, 1953 rear-ender at Wallace, VA (ICC Accident Investigation
is an example of what can happen when visibility is impaired and the engine
deciphers it as a "high ball board" rather than take the safe course.

Harry Bundy
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