"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Apr 9 18:53:13 EDT 2009

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with 13 of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Attending with us from Lynchburg
were Aubrey Wiley a.k.a. "Junkman" and John Zuro. The "Junkman" was
sporting a colorful black and white T-Shirt with his "back yard" rail
display highlighted in white. He showed us a photo of his latest added
attraction, a Virginian Call Box, complete with years of graffito
inside. He also show several photos of a VGN side wreck that Landon
Gregory said may have been near Seneca. Landon recalled that it could
have been the one that he "rode from Crewe to the scene on the derrick car".

The DVD shown was from Norfolk Southern "Regs that Work" which explained
why NS Chairman Wick Moorman is asking his retired employees to write
their Congressmen to ask for defeat of S146 and HR233, Railroad
Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009. Would Henry Huttleston Rogers have
asked for this kind of help? I know, there were probably no retired VGN
employees yet, but...

From Monday's "Roanoke Times", I showed the Brethren the "100 Years Ago
Today" segment that had two very interesting snippets this week. The
first states "Yesterday (April 5, 1909)was the day set apart for the
formal celebration in Roanoke of the opening of the Virginian Railroad".
The second reads "It is stated that there is no foundation for the
report that the Norfolk and Western railroad has been purchased by the
Pennsylvania system". Both prompted discussion.

The local news yesterday highlighted the latest donation to the Virginia
Museum of Transportation. NS has donated the complete cab of SD-40 unit
1594. This "active" display will allow Museum patrons to sit in the
actual engineers seat, work the throttle and brake handles of a former
N&W diesel locomotive. Bev Fitzpatrick said that "we eventually
anticipate adding a rail simulator on one side of the cab so that
visitors can position themselves like an engineer running a real NS
Locomotive". Our own Virginian Railway steam engineer, Raymond East,
remembered operating the 1594 in yard service after the VGN-N&W merger.

Passed around were copies of the 2008 Norfolk Southern Annual Report.
The figure that jumped out to us was the NS operating expenses to
operating revenues ratio of 71.1%. The last VGN Annual Report of 1958
lists VGN operating ratio as 51.1%. This ratio indicates the amount
required to generate one dollar of revenue. NS=71.1 cents; VGN=51.1 cents.

Also passed around was the latest NRHS "Bulletin". It has an article
"Amtrak Developing New Photo Guidelines". It tells about the National
Press Photographers Association's asking Amtrak to "stop harassing
photographers and to take immediate steps to remedy the railroad's
un-constitutional treatment of law-abiding photographers".

Last night was highlighted with many "Show and Tell" VGN items. Jeff
Sanders brought his collection of rail passes which included almost all
years of the VGN starting with Tidewater. He has one N&W pass from 1890
of engineer Charles Roby who got his 50 year pin in 1929. Several of
Jeff's VGN passes had the letters A,B, or C in front of the pass number.
Anyone out there know the significance of these letters? Jeff also
showed us some of his post card collection, which had many VGN
locations. Wis Sowder brought three of his "Call Books" of 1951 which
showed VGN crew members names that he called to work assignments and
their caboose and train numbers.

I showed those who were not at last week's "Takin' Twenty", the photo of
the Narrow's Power Plant workers to see if we could finish identifying
them. Jeff Sanders recognized George Shands, the un-official Virginian
photographer, standing on the back row, right end. We surmised that
George had his camera on a tripod... set the timer... and ran to get
into the photo. I will post it when we get all identified.

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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