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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Oct 18 08:23:10 EDT 2012

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with eight of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We signed a Happy Birthday card for
Jeff Sanders, retired NS Brakeman and Friend of the Virginian Railway, who
is also President of the Roanoke Chapter NRHS. Jeff is a collector of
Virginian Railway artifacts, photos and knowledge, and will be 66 on

We also made our plans for next Saturday's trip to Victoria for the Retired
VGN Reunion. Looks like we will have 7 or 8 attending from Roanoke.

The Jewel from the Past is from June 8, 2006: "Clerk Keith Sowder recalled
once scheming with Weighmaster 'Snook' Willet and making a fake switch list
for the hot 'Ford Train' #72 that was approaching Roanoke. The list
involved cars hauling explosives and ice cars next to the engine, instead
of the caboose. This list was to intimidate substitute Yardmaster Granville
Royster...it did! Keith said Royster got so excited, he took a pistol out
of his desk and went outside and fired it into the air. His Clerk, Melvin
Matthews thought he had done something awful, but later discovered that the
joke was on him, Keith and 'Snook'".

Passed around were two photos I discovered last week at the N&W (and VGN)
Historical Society Archives work day. These photos show the Station at
Victoria when it was first built and had only one floor. I have posted
these photos on this web site under "Skip's Photos". This was just after
the tracks were laid and the yard had not been built. One of the photos
shows the beginnings of the town of Victoria complete with horse and buggy
and several small homes. Also passed around was the September/October issue
of the "NS Biz". This issue covers NS "Voice on Capitol Hill", "Road
Crossing Safety and NS" and their new TV commercial.

Also shown was a quip from the Archives about the VGN's 2400 HP Trainmaster
#55 being purchased from Fairbanks Morse at a cost of $230,886 that was
received on March 30, 1954. H. Bundy gave me this "VG00110" that is quoted
"Following set-up at Mullens, WV, it became the trailing unit of a
Kopperston Turn called April 9. Returning to Elmore as the lead unit, the
air brakes failed and the train overturned on the 2.32% descending grade to
Oceana. Investigation revealed that a plastic plug inserted to keep trash
out of the air system at Beloit (F-M Factory in Wisconsin) had not been

Landon Gregory was especially impressed with another N&W Historical Society
Archive find that I passed around. It was a Formal Investigation conducted
by N&W Terminal Trainmaster J. H. Robertson of January 30, 1952. This
investigation involved an incident at South Norfolk on January 27 about
2:45 AM, when the N&W train passed the VGN Home Signal causing the VGN
Extra 901 to get a STOP signal to be thrown in its face, and applying
emergency brakes. No one was injured, but this was an unusual rail
operation between the two lines that used the same plant. Landon knew
almost all of the VGN personnel involved, and talked us through it as
though it was happening while we listened....

I want to thank those who organized the get together in Mullens this
weekend for their support of our beloved fallen flag her memories. Please
keep us posted on this event.

Thanks to Noel Cosby and the Megahans for this one: An Irish priest was
transferred to Texas. Father O'Malley rose from his bed one morning on a
fine Spring day in his new west Texas mission parish to see out of his
bedroom window a jackass lying dead in the middle of his front lawn. He
promptly called the local police station. The conversation went like this:
"Good morning. This is Sergeant Jones. How might I help you?" "And the best
of the day to yerself. This is Father O'Malley at St. Ann's Catholic
Church. There's a jackass lying dead in me front lawn and would ye be so
kind as to send a couple o'yer lads to take care of the matter?" Sergeant
Jones, considering himself to be quite a wit and recognizing the foreign
accent, thought he would have a little fun with the good Father, replied,
"Well now Father, it was always my impression that you people took care of
the last rites!" There was dead silence on the line for a long
moment....Father O'Malley then replied: "Aye, 'tis certainly true; but we
are also obliged to notify the next of kin first, which is the reason for
me call".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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