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

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Mar 5 06:58:19 EST 2015

Tonight I had the pleasure of "Takin' Twenty" with eight of the Brethren
and Friends of the Virginian Railway. Attending with us was Mark Erickson,
Norfolk Southern Pipefitter at Roanoke Shops who took the photo in the NS
March 2015 calendar of the Southern and IT heritage units passing with a
train in front of the old N&W General Office Building in Roanoke.  Also
with us was our friend Chip Oats who has a farm along the old Virginian at
Lafayette, VA.  Chip told us of work being done to raise the southern
portal tunnel at Montgomery, VA on the N&W side and a lot of traffic being
moved over to the old VGN Whitethorne side.  He even observed a west bound
single stack train lately there.

Raymond East brought a recent purchase from a local antique store of a
Michigan train station typical of the old VGN type to share with us.  He
and Landon pointed out several items in the photo including the old
semiphore signal and telegraph lines that brought back some memories.  We
also talked about this Saturday night "springing forward" our clocks into
Dayllight saving time.  Raymond told of Virginian Railway Brakeman Chuck
Ridgeway who carried two watches when DST was in effect.  Landon remembered
when the rail lines did NOT go on DST and it "messed up" the passenger
train schedules sometimes.

The ebay report this time has the follow VGN items sold:  5X7 photo of FM
#55 at Elmore in 1956 for $36.00; 1931 Pass of C. H. Hix, VGN President,
for $18.27; VGN Trust plate for $67.00 and a 1946 public timetable for

I showed the Spring "Classic Trains" magazine with a photo taken in Norfolk
at Union Station of a VGN passenger train .  Also shown was a 1954 VGN RWY
Annual Report I recently purchased on ebay.  This one has the VGN operating
ratio at 61.8% ( took 61.8 cents to generate a dollars worth of revenue).
That year the VGN had l3,003 employees with a payroll of $13.539,414.

The Jewel from the Past is from June 12, 2008:  "  Bob Rowland remembered
riding squareheads in the yard every chance he got.  He said  he 'loved the
up and down motion of the side rods pounding the iron'.  He also enjoyed
standing beside one of the 900s as it started to pull a loaded coal train.
 'It was so smooth and powerful, it would my make hair stand on end, and
even then I didn't have much'".

Then there's this:  Gordon Hamilton send me a list of "I never knew" items
that I shared with the Brethren. This one was the favorite:  Most men in
the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck Knife Company. When
playing poker it was common to place one of these Buck knives in front of
the dealer so everyone knew who he was.  When it was time for a new dealer
the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer. If this
person didn't want to deal he would "pass the buck" to the next player.  If
that player accepted then "the buck stopped there".

Time to pull the pin on this one!

Departing Now from V248,

Skip Salmon

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