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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Feb 28 17:08:11 EST 2013

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with eight of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. We discussed Wis Sowder's
letter-to-the-editor in the "Roanoke Times" that was printed last Friday.
It was "Use the restored Virginian station" as the proposed Amtrak Station
in Roanoke. Wis said "With an addition of a connection track from the
Winston-Salem line to the old VGN track, the train could go from the NS
main line at Roanoke Shops through the wye track, across Campbell Avenue
and south to the restored station and avoid the $6.1 Million modification".
(The letter was a response to an earlier article telling about a $6.1
Million drainage culvert needed if the station is to be located beside
Norfolk Ave in downtown Roanoke. Also the Brethren added if the connection
to the W-S district was made just south of Albemarle Ave, there would also
be room to park the train there, beside Williamson Road).

We discussed several new rules of safe operation now being used and not in
use when the Brethren were active. The first is the three step rule for
protection of a workman when making cuts or connection of train cars. The
engineer must apply the air brake, center the reverser handle, and open the
generator field switch to insure the engine will NOT move and then give the
workman his protection by radio. Only after the cut or connection is make,
and the workman is in the clear and releases the three step protection, can
the engineer proceed. We discussed the do not board or de-board moving
equipment, or ride on top of equipment rules. Also the double check switch
and derail positions was discussed. Russell McDaniel had not heard of most
of these and said that the VGN used none. Frank Breedlove said "we would
have never gotten a train out of South Yard with all them rules".

We talked about Virginia Museum of Transportation's new "Fire up the 611"
study to see if the most beautiful steam engine left (some say the VGN #4
is, but she is sort of small) can be fired up again. Go to VMT web site for
a survey and more information about this.

The Jewel from the Past is from October 27, 2006: "I showed a recently
purchased framed N&W 'Notice to the Public' from Grundy, VA of Tariffs and
Explosives and Other Dangerous Articles'. Wis Sowder recalled similar
notices being posted on the VGN. 'Slick' Inge said the most dangerous train
he was ever in charge of was one of the high octane aviation fuel for the
Naval Station in Norfolk. He said there were some anxious moments when
sparks flew off brake shoes from that train with the smell in the air of
gasoline". Note: I asked those present last night what was the most
dangerous train they remember. Landon Gregory told of dynamite cars
everywhere, and ammonition trains being delivered near Sewells Point at St.
Julian and were handled very carefully. Russell McDaniel commented that
"all trains were dangerous, so safety was first when planning movement of
any of them". Frank Breedlove answered that the most dangerous was anything
that VGN Brakeman "Cool Daddy" Thompson touched. "He could derail more cars
that Casey Jones".

Thanks to Bill Mason, Lloyd Lewis and H. Bundy who replied about last
week's train order hoop demonstration. The "Y" train order hoop I took into
the restaurant last week did cause some comments from customers. The string
was still attached and an old folded train order was in place. One lady
asked if it was a divining rod to find water. I had to respond with the
first thing that came to mind: "Yes Mam, it is a modern divining rod, and
after you hold it with the prongs and point toward where you think there is
water, it will draw itself to the spot on the ground where you must dig for
a well. Also this modern one has a small paper attached to the string that
will tell how deep you must dig!"

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon


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