Regarding AFE's (authority for expenditure)

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Jan 28 06:34:07 EST 2013

The NWHS has copies of most of the N&W's AFEs. I spent the better part
of a day going through those while researching the Wytheville station.
They provide extensive insight into what was done and when.
Unfortunately there is no index or other means of searching them. You
have read through them page by page.

Danial Fisher

-----Original Message-----
From: NW Mailing List [mailto:nw-mailing-list at]
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 3:02 PM
To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Regarding AFE's (authority for expenditure)

I have included at least some of the pertinent discussions regarding
AFE's made by the railroad over the years.

I have been fortunate to have seen copies of Southern and Baltimore &
Ohio AFE's and let me tell you, if every one of those memos survived
the years since they were completed, you would have yourself one heck
of a neat historical record. For at least those two railroads,
whenever anything other than cutting the grass was involved, it had to
have an AFE. I've seen copies of references to stations getting
downsized, removing towers, changing tracks, platforms ..........
anything of the like and suspect that it still done but with today's
digital technology, not the proliferation of paperwork all over the
place. All that had to be signed off before it got an AFE.

I suspect that the N&W was no different but finding those little
beasties will be the trick as many if not most such reams of paperwork
made their way to the furnaces and dumps, many decades ago. So
treasure those you do find.

Bob Cohen


Two other stations that originally had second story towers were
Wytheville and Christiansburg (Cambria). The designs were apparently
fairly similar; the major difference being that the Wytheville station
was built of brick and Christiansburg of timber. Both stations were
built in the early 1870s. The towers were located at one end and
centered along the length of the building, not offset like at Rural
Retreat. The contract for the Wytheville station references the tower
room several times, but gives no indication to its use. It is only
referred to as the "Tower Room" or "Room in the Tower". Access to the
tower room was by means of a staircase from the Ticket Office, so it
was not part of the public portion of the station. The walls were
plastered and wainscoted in the same manner as the waiting rooms and
ticket office. The tower at Wytheville was removed when the passenger
end of the station was expanded in 1905.

The tower room may have served to give the station agent a view of the
tracks. However, the roof arrangement at Christiansburg (and
presumably Wytheville) hinders this theory. The back wall of the tower
room doesn't have enough free area to fit a full height window and
still clear the roof. It is possible that a small "porthole" window
could have been
installed, but that would not have matched the rest of the
architecture and doesn't seem likely.

I'll mention that I have found no drawings or photographs of the 1873
Wytheville station. However, the construction contract describes the
building very well. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the period show
the footprint to be the same as Christiansburg. I suspect that the
Wytheville station was originally intended by the AM&O to be a copy of
the Christiansburg station. Town officials insisted on a brick
station, which is what got built. A set of architectural drawings were
produced; I have been unable to locate a copy.

Danial Fisher

> Frank,

Your picture of Wakefield triggered questions for the group. I've
attached a couple of photo composites to illustrate the following. The
Wakefield architecture is similar to Rural Retreat, of Italianate
design: low roof, tower(s), ornate trim, rounded windows. The early
1900's photos of both show two changes that I am interested in. First,
both early depots had 2-story towers (water?) that had disappeared by
the 1940's. Second, both depots show the addition of city water toilet
facilities that were 'tacked on' and didn't bother to replicate the
rounded windows. Wakefield added their toilets where the main entrance
appears to have been, while Rural Retreat added its toilets to the
northeast corner.

Questions for the group:

1. Is there a recorded history of changes the N&W made to its depots?

2. Does the disappearance of water towers correspond to a changeover in
locomotive design or some other system-wide change?

3. Was there a particular year or program when toilets were added?

It is significant to me that the N&W did a very professional (and
expensive?) makeover of its depots when it phased out the towers.

> Thanks in advance,


> Frank Akers



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