"Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Sep 30 08:44:44 EDT 2010

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the
Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. I mentioned to the
Brethren about the new header photo on this site showing "downtown"
Victoria when she first became a rail town. I passed around a copy of
the September 27, 2010 "Richmond Times-Dispatch" article about "Hopeful
signs in Victoria as town gears up for fall festival", this weekend.
Greg Elam is to be commended for providing the Richmond paper
information for this piece. "I've told people recessions come and
recessions go, but we've been in a recession for 50 years," said Greg
Elam, a member of the Town Council who led the acquisition of the
caboose for the town's park, and remains its caretaker". I'll add that
Greg had a hand in everything associated with, and the securing of, the
Rail Park, including the low sided Virginian gondola that the Roanoke
Chapter NRHS donated. If you can make it to Victoria this Saturday, be
sure to give Greg a big thank you for his untiring and faithful service
to the cause!

Also passed around were the Summer 2010 "NRHS Bulletin" and "Trains
Locomotive 2010, The magazine of today's motive power", which featured
the NS 999 battery powered locomotive.

I mentioned to the Brethren that I spoke to John Euton at the last
Motive Power Supervisor's breakfast about doing an article on the slug
that was made from a Virginian EL-C shortly after the merger. John
worked on this project and gave me some information and will give me
more, as I do the research. The pantograph stripped EL-C was modified
with electrical equipment to be connected to a Virginian Trainmaster for
remote power for yard service. John said that this set-up worked well at
the Shaffers Crossing hump. More on this later.

The Jewel from the Past is from September 16, 2004: Communications were
discussed, and it was clear that the operating department of the
Virginian Railway did not have radios until almost right before the
merger with the N&W. They then only had the heavy portable type in the
cabs and the signal went from the cab antenna to a small one when they
left the caboose. Cabooses were equipped with an antenna in the center
of the cupola for road communication. Locomotives had a permanent one.
Hand signals during daylight, and lanterns at night, were the primary
means of communication before the radios were used. With trackside train
signals at only a few locations, and train orders and good watches being
used for meets, a constant vigil was required for a safe trip".

I showed the Brethren the first day cover that the Big Lick Stamp Club
issued last Saturday at their meeting to celebrate the 100 anniversary
of the VGN Station in Roanoke. Several of the Brethren bought this VGN
collector's item. I purchased some of these covers along with protective
sleeves and had the Grandin Road Post Office place the cancellation on
them. This makes this item an instant piece of history and is already a
collectors item for VGN memorabilia collectors. The Club also placed
their cancellation on them which shows the Station, Mill Mountain with
Star, and a VGN Steam locomotive in the background, on the ones I
purchased. I am selling them as a fund-raiser for the Station. Contact
me off line if you want some. At the Show I handed out the Station
flyers and had one avid stamp collector make a substantial contribution
to the Restoration Fund.

From last week's report I got a question from the N&WHS mailing list
asking "Did military movements unload at Sewalls Point, which was
adjacent to the Naval Air Station and ship piers?" Wis Sowder and Glen
McLain, who were clerks at Sewells Point and Norfolk, do not remember
ever seeing or hearing about troops being unloaded at Sewells Point.
Both also commented that even though there were no unloading platforms
at the coal piers, the Army and Navy could have unloaded troop trains there.

Landon Gregory and Frank Breedlove grew up on farms that produced
tobacco. Both remembered the VGN hauling the "baskets" in box cars from
Brookneal, Kenbridge, Leesville and Altavista. For about twenty minutes,
the two Virginian veterans discussed the fine points of raising,
weeding, bug killing, harvesting, curing, packing and auctioning
tobacco. Both agreed that "cured" meant no moisture in the leaf. Most of
the "VGN" tobacco was bright leaf cigarette type which was flue cured
(heated in barns to remove moisture) versus the Lynchburg "dark"
type(N&W) that was used for cigars and pipes. Frank Breedlove said that
he remembered George Daniels, a car inspector, who chewed all the time.
Frank said "for the first several years I thought he had a growth on the
side of this cheek before discovering he chewed". Landon Gregory said
that you could tell if a person was "level headed" if the tobacco juice
came out the same, on both sides of his mouth!"

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon

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