"Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri May 22 15:03:58 EDT 2009

Greg's description of the use of dampened cotton waste by VGN crews to breathe through in tunnels reminds me what my grandmother told me about a similar practice by the engine crews on the N&W (my grandfather was an engineer on the Pokey). She said that the crews would keep a bucket on the engine deck with water and burlap sacks in the bucket, and they would wrap the sacks around their heads except for their noses, and sometimes their noses would get blistered. The old, tight Elkhorn tunnel, aka Coaldale tunnel, was probably the prime culprit it this ordeal pre-electrification when an engine crew might be on the second engine where they suffered from the heat thrown off by both engines as they went upgrade through the tunnel.

Gordon Hamilton
----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: "Taking Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren

In a message dated 5/22/2009 6:59:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time, nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org writes:


You "ain't" gettin' my waste .. just because a bunch of ladies thought it was useless!

We railroaders know better. That's why we save "everything"!


Grandad (VGN engineer W.R. Bloyd) kept a bunch of cotton waste in the garage in Victoria and used it for things like cleaning shotgun bores, fishing reels and cleaning stubborn bug juice and other stains off the car and other metal and wood surfaces around the place.
Grandad said that VGN steam locomotive crews on the west end had used water-dampened waste to breathe through when going through tunnels.

Greg Harrod
Fredericksburg, Va.

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