"DO" Telegraph Office, 12th St, Roanoke

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Apr 26 20:57:10 EDT 2011

After 30+years, I have finally undertaken restoration of a wooden shelf that I obtained from the former "DO" Telegraph Office in 12th Street Yard Office (corner of 12th Street & Jackson Ave, Roanoke,) a few years before 12th Street was closed in the early 1980s. The shelf was below a window cut into an interior wall, allowing a Conductor to transact business with the telegraph operator, without entering the Telegraph Office. The piece is significant to me in that my Grandfather, without doubt, used this shelf in registering his trains at DO. The shelf is about 7x24" and appears to be made of a soft wood, either Poplar or Hemlock. Its first finish was varnish, topped by two coats of that awful putrid green paint that later became ubiquitous on the railroad. It's really quite ordinary, and obviously hand made locally.

As I recall, 12th Street Yard Office was built about 1888, and served as the principal administrative and communications office at West Roanoke until the Shaffers Crossing Hump and 16th Street Yard office were built in the 1940s. It housed the offices of the Superintendent, the Train Master, the Road Foreman of Engines, the Yardmaster and the General Yardmaster, as well as "DO" Telegraph Office. "DO" would have handled all administrative messages, consists, reports and telegrams at West Roanoke. It would have been a hot job for a telegrapher... This was before the advent of telephones on the railroad, and if the information moved, it moved by telegraph. I think I recall hearing that DO rated two telegraphers on duty simultaneously. Being about equidistant from the two ends of the yard, it would have been of little value for hanging Train Orders on outbound trains.

In thinking this over, it occurred to me that I have never seen a photograph of telegraph wires being "dropped" from a pole line into the 12th Street building. Indeed, during my life, the pole line was always on the opposite side (north side) of the yard. But I would imagine that DO was cut in on at least a dozen Morse Telegraph circuits, so there had to be a "pole line drop" somewhere, and since this was before the advent of cable, the individual wires were most likely run from a cross arm on a pole to a cross arm mounted on the exterior of the building and passed through glass insulating tubes laid through the masonry walls (a typical railroad set up.)

So my question is... Has anyone ever seen a photo of 12th Street Yard Office in its early days, showing how the wires were dropped into the building? The corollary question is, When was the pole line relocated to the north side of the yard?

You guys are by now quiteadroit at handling needle-in-the-haystack questions !

-- abram burnett
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://six.pairlist.net/pipermail/nw-mailing-list/attachments/20110427/6c501a14/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list