"Taking Twenty with the Virginian Brethren"

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Nov 27 09:38:14 EST 2008

Last night on the eve of Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure
of "Takin' Twenty" with 9 of the Brethren and Friends of the
Virginian Railway. I announced to the Brethren about the recent
passing of Herbie Poindexter, operator from Seneca. Landon Gregory
remembered talking to Herbie just last month at the Annual Gathering
of of the Brethren in Victoria. Landon said that he was interviewed
by a reporter from the Victoria area newspaper. The reporter asked
Landon and the other former VGN operators to pose for a photo. The
shot included Landon, Herbie, Ed Saunders, C. D. Johnson and Norman

Also discussed was the passing of Jim Gillum, past president of
the N&W (and VGN) Historical Society, and current Director of the
Archives. All who knew Jim expressed their great admiration for him
and his work at the Archives. Jim was especially interested in and
had a love for the Virginian Railway. I recall many times seeing his
bid on ebay for a precious VGN item and at the next work session
seeing the item in the Archives display case of artifacts.

We talked about back up bells on VGN cabooses. A fellow from
Princeton told me at the recent Bluefield Railfest, that he had one
and there were small brass bells on some VGN cabooses that were
sounded when back up movements were made. Anybody out there know
anything about these "back up bells" on VGN cabeese?

A lot of discussion broke out when I read Gordon Hamilton's
email of an article from the "Bluefield Daily Telegraph" of October
30, 1908. It stated "a railroad line is being surveyed between
Roanoke and Floyd Court House, VA, which will be used as a feeder for
the Virginian Railway". Most of the Brethren just laughed because US
221 that goes by Country Cookin' where we take twenty directly to
Floyd Court House, is one of the steepest, crookedest roads in
Southwest Virginia.

I announced to the group with pleasure that their own Landon
Gregory was elected to the Board of the Roanoke Chapter National
Railway Historical Society at last week's election. I would guess
that Landon is the first former VGN employee elected to this Board.

Posted at the Restaurant was a flyer about our Saturday December
13 "Free Rides on the Candy Cane Shifter". If you are in the Roanoke
area, please come ride behind the Roanoke Chapter NRHS Alco T-6 #41
on N&W Caboose 518409 or 611 Tool Car 1407. Rides will be given at
our Roanoke Industrial Park on the old Silk Mill lead (used by the
VGN) from 8:30 AM to 3 PM. I have posted a photo of the flyer with a
map, on this site under "Skip's Photos".

Passed around was a recent purchase of mine on ebay. It is a
black and white photo taken April 1955 at Elmore showing VGN FM
Trainmaster #51 pulling a string of coal hoppers and gons with about
a dozen different employee autos and pickups parked by the highway.
It is a candidate for Aubrey Wiley's 2010 VGN Calendar.

Also the November 2008 Norfolk Southern "Newsbreak" was passed
around. It highlights NS's new "top of the rail lubrication system"
that is "saving 4% of fuel costs" by decreasing friction between car
wheels and the rail. I wonder if the VGN had any lubricators at all?

The conversations turned to Thanksgiving and some how Rufus
Wingfield remembered VGN brakeman Bill Hughs who "sported a gold
tooth that kept falling out". Ruf said that he would loose it and
yell "Stop everybody, I've lost my tooth". He was very thankful when
someone hollered "Here it is Bill".

All the Brethren and I wish you the Best Thanksgiving you ever

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon

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