Takin' Twenty with the Virginian Brethren by Skip Salmon

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Dec 5 08:51:51 EST 2013

Last night I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with seven of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. I told them about the Roanoke
Chapter NRHS Candy Cane Shifter that will run this Saturday and Sunday at
the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. Saturday trips will be
10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday 1 PM to 5 PM. The Chapter will provide their Alco
T-6 switch engine #41, two cabooses and a coach to give rides from VMT to
10th Street and return. Contact VMT for details and ticket costs. We will
have a $5 ticket that will allow rides all day.

I passed out the 2014 Friends of the Virginian Railway "Takin' Twenty"
calendar to the Brethren last night. I can send this one page yearly
calendar electronically upon request from
gkholine at cox.net<http://do/mail/message/mailto?to=gkholine%40cox.net>

The Jewel from the Past like those in Landon Gregory's Hamilton 992B
"Railway Special" is from September 20, 2007: "When Clarke Ave. was
mentioned,(this is the street parallel to the main VGN Yard in Roanoke),
'Cornbread' Victory relayed a story about a night shift incident. The City
had been working on Clarke Ave., repairing pot holes and at that time they
used 'Flambos' aka 'smudge pots' with open flames, to warn drivers of the
repair work. 'Cornbread' was spotting a cab on the cab track, saw all the
flames reflecting in the windows, and called the fire department".

Thanks to all of you who requested the missing "Takin' Twenty" #498. As
exclaimed by the Coalwood "Rocket Boys": PRODIGIOUS!

For Show and Tell I took the January 2014 "Trains" magazine. This issue
has a great story about how dogs are used by Railway Police to guard trains
and shipments. It states that "these dogs are railway employees". Our
question is what union do they belong? I asked the Brethren if any of the
VGN Special Agents had K-9s. Landon Gregory said that the ones he knew
would definitely have trouble keeping up with the dogs. Glen McLean told
of a Chase City bank robber running out of a "just robbed" bank and trying
to hijack VGN Special Agent Bailey's car. Bailey saw him and when the
criminal jumped into the car he came face to face with Bailey's Iver
Johnson .32. Page 22 and 23 of the "Trains" is George Hamlin's now famous
(on 2014 NS Calendar) shot taken at Solitude near Arcadia, VA. Two new
products are highlighted also in this issue: new markers with arrows for
switch stands and a new replacement axle alternator for diesels. Also on
page 16 is "Natural gas power is here" with a photo of GE's new ES44AC with
a NextFuel-equipped liquefied natural gas-fueled engine. CN is testing it
using a rebuilt double-stack car as a tender.

We talked about the recent train wreck in New York when 4 people were
killed after the train derailed going 82 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Glen McLean
told of a VGN Section Foreman traveling west on a motor car, going to sleep
and running into the rear of a standing train. Glen said when he saw him
after the accident, he "was bandaged from head to toe". "Gibby" Davis gave
us the next chapter in his big bear saga. The bear returned to his deck
and got an empty Coke can out of the trash and crushed it as before. "He
didn't leave a note this time, but left a large bear 'present' on the deck

Last night was a milestone, because we have now met 500 times since that
first "Takin' Twenty" April 1, 2004. I took the first report I posted on
this web site for the Brethren to peruse. In it we talked about the
November 20, 1958 wreck at Kumis; how the VGN issued annual passes to
Employee 's children versus the N&W issuing them to the parents; Jimmy
Whittaker told of a Virginian employee using his wife's annual pass to
transport her casket to Princeton in a box car; and several colorful names
were mentioned: 'Dirty Face' Snead, 'Lemonhead' Smithson and M. C.
'Motorcar' Foor". We have lost many of the Brethren in the past nine years
but their memory is still alive and well in the stories that are still
told. I will repeat the last sentence of that first report, because it is
even more pertinent now than it was in 2004: "If you know of ex-Virginian
employees in your community, I challenge you to 'take twenty' with them,
and you will be rewarded greatly".

Time to pull the pin for the 500th time!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon
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