Two questions for the N&W Pros

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Fri Sep 4 00:09:25 EDT 2015

good question on the 2 passenger trains at the station.

Had me thinking then,..

if you had to board/disembark the further train the closer train to the 
station could open up the vestibules and everybody clambor over thru the 

Never encountered that possibility but thats a solution.

I would think the same J would run thru to the end of the run, coaling 
and watering stations would be strategically placed.

Over here near lake Michigan the Michigan Central has a coaling tower 
about halfway between St Joseph and the state line, well closer towards 
the state line IN/MI, srtill standing, right over the mainline, not used 
now of course, engines could stop mid run, fill up on the coal in a 
jiffy and yer off on the main. Don't know if water was there.

Perhaps other N&W experts can join in.


On 9/3/2015 8:04 PM, nw-mailing-list-request at wrote:
> Subject:
> Two questions for the N&W Pros
> From:
> NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>
> Date:
> 9/3/2015 7:57 PM
> To:
> nw-mailing-list at
> I have been geezerring thru my enormous vault of priceless, ah ... 
> stuff. Amongst a fresh cache I explored this weekend was a box of RR 
> books, some unread, still in the author’s original Saran Wrap. About 
> 90% of the books will be sold, some after a careful review.
> [Side note here: First, is it OK to sell my half dozen or so N&W books 
> on this list? If N&W books are OK, is it OK to include my entire list 
> (maybe 20 or so) of RR books for sale?]
> Back to my real purpose ...
> One such book I’ve been thumbing thru which holds particular interest 
> for me is Tom Dixon’s Powhatan Arrow, which so far is the only book in 
> my “undecided, sell it or not?” category. While I am more familiar 
> with much of the N&W territory, have thoroughly enjoyed the steam 
> excursions, love to chase the Poky, and live in an area with more N&W 
> fans, I remain hooked on my birthright B&O, of which a few of those 
> books also are headed out.
> However, “to sell” or “not to sell” is not why I’m writing this note. 
> I have two N&W questions that the Powhatan Arrow book has brought to 
> light and not answered (tho I acknowledge I have not read every page … 
> yet).
> Here goes …
> Numero Uno – I always love the photos of the passenger trains loading 
> and unloading at the Roanoke station. Considering the typical load of 
> front end cargo, these stops could not have been fast. Also, while 
> many photos show two trains in the station at once (possibly scheduled 
> that way), I am sure there had to be times that one train ran late and 
> blocked the station as long as its meet-partner already had.
> Pages 80 & 81 show a terrific example photo with two passenger trains 
> in the Roanoke station … virtually totally blocking the N&W from any 
> other mainline movements until those passenger trains had moved on. 
> Yes, I guessed at ways a long coal train could have slithered thru, 
> but I doubt N&W did that with so many people – passengers and workers 
> – milling around. Of course, maybe it did?
> My hands-on experiences for passenger operations at Roanoke are 
> limited to excursion trains of the 80s and 90s, so, I have no “being 
> there” experience with N&W’s real varnish perusing the station.
> Taking 1950 as an example, the N&W ran three featured daily passenger 
> trains and other varnish (most or all times a matched pair) thru 
> Roanoke, which must have blocked the station for a cumulative several 
> hours each day. I am curious how in the heck did the railroad find 
> time to run its daily gaggle of coal, other freight, and executive 
> trains? Was there another route thru town (south side?) with which I 
> am not well familiar or were the money-making freight trains simply 
> more patient than I would guess?
> Numero Dos – The answer to this question strikes me as simple, but 
> then I simply am not sure. It has to do with the J locos pulling 
> passenger trains. Here goes:
> Did a single J locomotive from Norfolk run all the way to Cincinnati 
> or was it changed out at Roanoke, or elsewhere? Was the engine 
> serviced en route or was it simply replaced by a freshly serviced J? 
> Were all of the J’s route legs of a length that all of the change outs 
> or servicings were accomplished in Roanoke, Bluefield or Williamson? I 
> assume there were legs where the J’s needed to stop for water, but not 
> coal?
> There were station-track water stands in a Bluefield photo, as I 
> recall, that – by pumping the water while passengers boarded – might 
> have alleviated the need for an engine change or full servicing. So, 
> when and where did N&W change lead passenger locos or simply service 
> them and keep them running?
> Perhaps not succinct, but those are my two questions.
> Incidentally, pointers to great N&W references (books, historic 
> societies, etc.) would be nice for some, but not everyone will have 
> easy, quick access to those sources or want to dig down in serious 
> research (a nasty trait of other lists). I am hoping for another great 
> discussion on here that begins with something relatively simple and 
> soon becomes an authoritative recap of the subject … and, of course, 
> lots more.
> Thanks for all the great info over the years … Bob
> Bob Loehne
> 7028 Tallent Court
> Sherrill's Ford, NC 28673
> 800-611-1218
> oezbob at

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