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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Sep 30 19:43:21 EDT 2010

Thank you Skip, and to the VIRGINIAN BRETHERN for answering my question about Troop Trains. John Katz

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 08:44:44 -0400
To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: "Takin' Twenty" with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon
From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org

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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