Pocahontas Division towers

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Sep 6 22:16:34 EDT 2021


Okay, we are referring to the Archives, so I am familiar with the two 
"early" Iaeger tower images. A late image from the yard looking north 
into the wye did not show a late tower where I thought it might be, so I 
guess not. Come to think of it, I believe Mr. King spent some time in 
Iaeger tower. . . .

You mentioned drawings--a quick search pulled up several Bluestone 
Junction drawings that indicated an early version of the Bluestone 
tower, located east of the junction and on the north side of the main. 
Dates varied from 1890 to 1905. The footprint would indicate the 
elongated octagonal tower design of Flat Top and early HQ.

Yes, Cooper became quite the hot spot when Mill Creek was chosen for the 
route over the mountain, ultimately to Ohio, but would literally get 
"passed over" when the bridge for the Low-Grade Line went in.

I gather Coaldale lasted much longer than Ruth. Westbounds could be held 
out at Bluestone for Coaldale to prioritize eastbounds into the 
single-track Elkhorn Tunnel. Still on the river, most westbounds could 
start downgrade and make a run for Cooper Hill, avoiding a stop for Ruth 
and a pusher.

I, for one, applaud your collecting of "worthless" information. Thank 
you, please keep it up and keep it available. Quite a bit before my 
time, this is as much looking into early history of towers as I've done 
and hope to do more.

Grant Carpenter

On 9/6/2021 10:51 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:
> Grant
> We should be looking at the same photos from the archives.  If you go 
> to the NWHS web site and do a search on each station it will pull up 
> all the photos and and drawings for that location. Just click on 
> photos once the list has come up.  That will keep you from going 
> through the entire list.  I think there are two tower photos of Iaeger 
> but cant remember for for sure.
> Cooper was the one that confused me the most.  Had to get Gordon 
> Hamilton to draw me a sketch of the tracks.  For any on the list not 
> familiar Cooper was only on the main line before the new double 
> tracking began.  Once the new West bound main line was put in service 
> Cooper was on the Bluestone Ext. and the East Bound Main (Old ML).  
> After the old main line was eliminated and the new East bound Main was 
> in service it was only on the branch. It was shown in ETT #18 eff. 
> 4/30/22 as on the old EB ML and only  on the Bllue. Ext. by ETT 22 
> eff. 7/6/24 if my notes are correct.
> As for the others they only showed up as a published station or 
> location.  I collect worthless information such as stations published 
> in N&W time tables, Station and Siding list, Open and Prepay, etc.
> Perhaps someone will come up with a photo of the ones at Ruth and BF 
> west end.  Makes you wonder if Ruth looked like Coaldale.
> Another example of worthless information.  That tower at Flat Top, VA 
> was a beautiful old tower.  I also collect information on stationary 
> boilers.  The one in that boiler house was boiler number 457 operated 
> with 75 pounds of pressure 6/12/1919.  Very low pressure for a 
> stationary boiler.  Could have been an old locomotive boiler or a 
> commercial boiler just no information.
> 457 	Flat Top, VA 	75
> Jim
> On 9/5/2021 10:22 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>> Thanks, Jim.
>> Looking at your list, it occurs to me that HQ was the only (?) tower 
>> on the Division to be replaced (early to late version before being 
>> closed). I had some vague notion that Iaeger (late) was larger than 
>> shown in the Archives image NW10281. Are your Iaeger photos of the 
>> same tower?
>> A vestige of the Flat Top tower are the automatic signals there at 
>> the yard.
>> Ruth and Coaldale were the control points on either end of the old 
>> Elkhorn Tunnel. They were closed earlier and control consolidated at 
>> Bluestone. By the time Bluestone closed, it had the main line west 
>> all the way to Elkhorn (the station) at the east end of Powhatan 
>> Middle Track where Eckman picked up.
>> Grant Carpenter
>> On 8/31/2021 10:24 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>>> Paul and Grant
>>> I have searched my files on the Main Line of the Pocahontas and this 
>>> is what I have found.  Some of the information is from the late 
>>> 1800's to later years.
>>> West End Tower Bluefied, WV  no photos only a published location. 
>>> Perhaps Telegraph was OX.
>>> Graham (Bluefield),  HQ has been covered in prior mail with photo.
>>> Flat Top Yard, VA photo old two story tower near pumping station. 
>>> Perhaps Telegraph was FY
>>> Cooper, WV old two story building at fork of Bluestone or 
>>> Pocahontas.  Main line was single track at the time of the photo. 
>>> Telegraph MC.
>>> Coaldale, WV tower photos
>>> Bluestone, WV SU tower covered in prior mail.
>>> East End Tower Ruth, WV only information it was a published location.
>>> Tug Tower Welch, WV covered in prior mail.
>>> Iaeger, WV photos
>>> East Williamson, WV location with no known photos.
>>> I would suspect other towers were on the main line in the early 
>>> years at some branch line junctions.  So far no information has 
>>> surfaced on other locations that I have seen.
>>> There were also what I call short towers that preformed the same as 
>>> a regular tower.  They were the sheds set up at the end of double 
>>> track to protect movement over the single track during construction. 
>>> There were a number of these at various times and locations on the 
>>> Pocahontas including Joe and Jim WV.
>>> Jim Blackstock
>>> n 8/28/2021 5:11 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>>>> Paul,
>>>> Sorry, it's been many years, I cannot recall where I saw the one 
>>>> image of the late version. In spite of the high-visibility location 
>>>> and easy access, the late version was not as photogenic and 
>>>> apparently lacked the photo coverage.
>>>> I have not researched written archives yet for the changeover date. 
>>>> Recollections are not given to nailing down dates, only that I've 
>>>> heard recollections of the early version that could date to the 
>>>> late 1930s--nothing to narrow the time frame.
>>>> The dates of TC upgrades can help. They prompted the changeover of 
>>>> operators/towers from an early version to late and/or late to 
>>>> closed. The (early) CV Junction mechanical interlocking would have 
>>>> included the single crossover on the main and the junction switch 
>>>> off of the eastbound main. The changeover to (late) electric 
>>>> "Local" TC would include the CV main, but only to the east end of 
>>>> Furnace. Control of the main line extended east to the West Yard 
>>>> Pullout; helpful, because westbounds routinely fouled the westbound 
>>>> main to double out of the yard.
>>>> HQ never extended west on the main line. The main was dark 
>>>> territory all the way to Bluestone (so the double crossover at 
>>>> Falls Mills was hand-thrown). For HQ to close, TC had to be in 
>>>> place here and on the east end of the Valley. This eliminated 
>>>> regular orders picked up at HQ by all non-passenger westbounds. 
>>>> Issuance of clearance cards was moved to the call office, along 
>>>> with any special orders. Orders and clearance cards for passenger 
>>>> runs were always issued at the Bluefield, WV station.
>>>> HQ Tower was the third on the main line to close and move to 
>>>> Bluefield. Bluestone was the first, following the completion of the 
>>>> east end of the Elkhorn realignment in 1950. Eckman would follow 
>>>> with completion of the west end to North Fork. With the closing of 
>>>> HQ, the dispatcher in Bluefield would control the main west through 
>>>> Vivian. The others would close in order going west, starting with 
>>>> Tug in the 1960s, then Iaeger and Devon in the 1970s. West of 
>>>> Devon, I'm still trying to gather info on the East Williamson operator.
>>>> As always, edits, additions and questions welcome.
>>>> Grant Carpenter
>>>> On 8/26/2021 3:00 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>>>>> Grant-
>>>>> Thanks for the information. I did not realize there was an “early 
>>>>> version” and a “late version” of HQ Tower.
>>>>> Do you know about when the late version was built?
>>>>> Are there any photos of the late version?
>>>>> Paul Mandelkern
>>>>> *From:* NW-Mailing-List <nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org> *On 
>>>>> Behalf Of *NW Mailing List
>>>>> *Sent:* Wednesday, August 25, 2021 5:38 PM
>>>>> *To:* nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
>>>>> *Subject:* HQ Tower
>>>>> Paul,
>>>>> Yes, this is the "early version." It was west of the stone 
>>>>> twin-arch underpass for Beaverpond Creek and old SR 85 (now 102) 
>>>>> to Falls Mills. This tower had levers/rods and a porch where 
>>>>> clearance cards and orders could be handed directly to passing crews.
>>>>> The "late version" I referenced was east of the underpass, had a 
>>>>> TC board and orders had to be hooped up.
>>>>> Grant Carpenter
>>>>> On 8/25/2021 1:37 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>>>>>     The HQ Tower in Bluefield (Graham) Virginia was a two-story
>>>>>     wooden structure. See the photo attached.
>>>>>     Paul Mandelkern
>>>>>     Winter Park, Florida
>>>>> On 8/24/2021 8:15 AM, Grant Carpenter wrote:
>>>>> Marty,
>>>>> Crews referred to them variously as "operator," "tower" or by 
>>>>> name. The three mainline Pocahontas towers you mention below, plus 
>>>>> HQ tower (the late version), were of a similar frame design. Two 
>>>>> exceptions were Devon (mentioned earlier, was in the depot) and 
>>>>> Eckman, between Bluestone and Tug. The Eckman operator was in the 
>>>>> yard office, a depot-like structure pictured in Alex's book, "The 
>>>>> Norfolk And Western In West Virginia 1881-1959" on page 261.
>>>>> As mentioned, the operator count was a moving target and declined 
>>>>> through the 1950s. A handy inflection point that includes those 
>>>>> mentioned here was the start of centralizing TC in Bluefield. I 
>>>>> believe Bluestone was the first to move and close, barely making 
>>>>> it into 1950, then Eckman, then HQ.
>>>>> Grant Carpenter
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