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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Apr 15 11:03:40 EDT 2011

As described in Tidewater Drawing H-1245: "Crossing Gate and all Signals to be normally as shown. All Signals and Torpedo Machines connected to and operated by Crossing Gate. Trainmen of Lumber Train must push Gate around to reverse position (across VGN Main Line) thus setting Signals to danger and placing torpedoes under uxploder in each machine". This device obviously was used to allow a main line VGN train to explode seversl torpedoes approximately 1500 feet ahead of a crossing gate which was the protection for a lumber road. Remember this was 1906 and as with coal, logging was "king".
Skip Salmon
---- NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> wrote:

What is a torpedo machine?
Mike WeeksGreenville NC

On Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 7:18 AM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> wrote:

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Raymond East reported the passing of VGN Yard Brakeman Felix "Susie" Shrewsberry. He was know for being extremely clean, after working a shift. "Susie" once bought a new car and took some friends and relatives with him to Florida. Upon returning to Roanoke with the ash trays full, "Susie" decided "to trade it in on a new one", Wis Sowder said.

We discussed the 2010 Norfolk Southern Annual Report. Of course the Brethren had to compare the VGN 1959 operating ration in the 50% range compared to NS 2010 72% range. (NS 72 cents to make a dollar versus VGN 50 some). They liked the NS vision statement: "to be the safest, most customer-focused, and successful transportation company in the world".

The Jewel from the Past is from March 24, 2005: "The subject of mechanical forces 'flagging' work on motive power when they were really needed for service was brought up. Walter Grigg remembered once a Federal Inspector cited an engine for having too much slack between the locomotive and the tender, and shop forces were suppose to make necessary repairs. When the inspector found the repairs not made the next day, when the locomotive was back in service, the mechanical man was transferred. It was reported that some shops had certain personnel that would make 'pencil' repairs when asked to do so."

Passed around was a photo of VGN AG #907 for the Brethren to identify the location. All agreed that it is Norfolk. This photo will be added to the N&W (and VGN) Historical Society Data-base at the next work session. Raymond East recalled firing the #907 and commented "it was a privilege to fire her". Also passed was a drawing H-1245 that our friend Eddie Mooneyham showed me at the last work session. It is a Tidewater Railway drawing of the use of a torpedo machine used with a crossing gate for use by trainmen of a lumber train, who use the gate to protect lumber roads crossing the then Tidewater. The torpedo machine was to be placed at least 2,000 feet from a lumber road crossing. This drawing is dated March 16, 1906.

Also passed around was an email from our friend Bob Cohen from Maryland showing damage to a track by a remote controlled engine that was left powered up. There is a distinct grinding of the profile of a locomotive wheel in 12 track locations in the photo. Glen McLain brought up the demerit system that the VGN used when employee messed up like this. He once got 30 demerits (100 got you dismissed) for not recognizing that an H. L. Lawson box car was "just sitting" for about a week and not returned. Landon Gregory said that an agent would get 10 for letting a mail sack get wet in the rain. He said that one agent got 10 for posting the incoming arrival time for a passenger train wrong, but when he spotted a flat wheel on a passenger train and reported it, he got only 1 (one) merit for that... Ken McLain told of a clerk named Flannigan, who did not get demerits, but a "chewing out" by the Superintendent for using too much language when reporting derailments. When the next one occurred, he just reported "off again, on again, gone again, Flannigan".

Glen McLain told a story about a man who was taking his wife, who was pregnant with twins, to the hospital when his car went out of control and crashed. Upon regaining consciousness, he saw his brother, a relentless world-class practical joker, sitting at his bed side. He asked his brother how his wife was and he replied "Don't worry, everybody's fine and you have a son and an a daughter. But the hospital was in a real hurry to get the birth certificates filed and since both you and your wife were unconscious, I named them for you." The brother said I named the little girl "Denise". The husband, relieved said "That's a very pretty name! What did you come up with for my son?" The brother replied, "Denephew."

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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