"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Jan 16 12:05:49 EST 2009

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with nine of
the Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway.

We talked about the upcoming open house for them at the N&W
(and VGN) Historical Society Archives on January 30, from 3-5 PM. I
told them about a recently discovered old Virginian photo album that
I had the pleasure of showing to one of my Virginian Railway heroes,
photographer August Thieme last week. August visited the Archives
work day and I had the honor of showing him all of our VGN photos
including the album that will be on display on the 30th. He went to
lunch with us and shared many stories. One concerned the photo
developing supplies that he carried with him on trips to the area so
he could develop the film at night in motels. The liquids were
carried in large jugs in the back seat of his car. He was stopped
by a police officer in Roanoke near where the Archives now stands,
who suspected him of hauling "hooch". August said that after one
big whiff of the clear liquid, and after much coughing, the officer
was convinced that he was not a "boot legger".

At the Archives Work Session, while working on VGN donated
papers, I discovered that in 1928 the VGN Engineering Department had
an official position that paid $195 per month and required a
knowledge of trigonometry, logarithms and track curvatures. It was
part of the Drafting Department and the official position was
a "COMPUTER". So the VGN had computers long before Bill Gates...

Percy Wilkins, NS engineer gave me a "heads up" and Ernie
Hubble brought me the Wednesday January 7, 2009 "The Kenbridge
Victoria Dispatch" with headlines: "Train Kept-a
Rollin" "Local 'Railroad Man' Retires after 52 years on the
tracks". The story is about Victoria's Edwin Massie who started in
April 1957 as a fireman on the VGN. In 1966 he was promoted to
engineer on the N&W. We think he is the very last VGN employee in
active service with NS. He started on VGN 1600 HP FM H16-44 "Bumble
Bees" and his photo in the paper was on the front of a NS GE 4,000
HP ES-40DC. Congratulations Ed!

I passed on to the Brethren that I now own all of the remaining
VGN "Safety First" pins (Reproduction of original). I purchased
them from the N&W HS Commissary and they will be rationed to special
events and persons.

Passed around was the February 2009 "Trains" Magazine. It
highlights the 600 new 6,000 HP locomotives purchased by China from
EMD and GE. The EMDs are designated JT56Ce. "J" indicates dual cab
(one on each end); "T" is for turbo charged engine: "5" is designated
for EMD "H" style engine; "6"is for 16 cylinders and ACe for EMD's
AC traction motor power. The GEs are ES59ACi. "ES" is for
evolution series; "59" indicates specs for traction HP required by
the Chinese and "AC" for AC traction and "i" for international. GE
sent two complete locomotives with the remainder in kits and EMD sent
all 300 as kits. They will be used in 3 unit, 18,000HP sets. All
units have microwave ovens, air conditioning, refrigerators and
toilets. They ain't your grandfather's "Bumble Bees"!

One of the photos put out for the Brethren to see at the open
house shows the Virginian Shops, Roundhouse etc. as it was in 1957
beside Naval Reserve Ave. and Jefferson St. in Roanoke. I was asked
if the VGN Roundhouse was reduced in size (stalls removed) as was
the N&W Roundhouse at Shaffers Crossing after diesels came. Ruf
Wingfield said that it was NOT.

Frank Breedlove and Raymond East got into a discussion about
how fast their old cars would run. This lead to the change to 12
Volt System from the sometimes unreliable 6 Volt System on older
cars. Frank remembered an old truck that would "run 90 MPH in
daylight but had trouble making 55 after dark, when the headlights
were turned on"!

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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