I Was Told the N&W Did Extend Virginian's Electrification - More

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Dec 5 10:42:31 EST 2022

   4.  Just a comment on switching coal at Roanoke.  Not all coal was created equal.  It varied by ash content, volatile content, and BTU.  Buyers bought coal based on these parameters.  To make things easy and to keep the railroad out of the statistics business, the mines assigned code names (or "classes") to the various grades of coal:  words like Margaret, Daisy, Moonbeam, Lucky, and so forth.  Depending on what the buyers had bought, the railroad's export piers loaded the ships by class.  Some ships might take all Margaret;  some might be loaded 2 Moonbeams to 5 Luckys, or whatever.   
  Abe:\After the VGN-N&W merger, there were 900 classes of coal -- not all were active.  Pre-merger, Virginian had only six or eight.  No longer, but even into the 1980's, it was possible for mines to ship coal that had never been sold.  Many cars came to Roanoke and stayed until a buyer could be found.  At one time, there were so many unsold cars that some were stored in middle tracks.  So frequently,  an eastbound would stop at say the Waverly middle track and dig out the cars containing the class of coal needed to fill a coal order at Lamberts Point.    Harry Bundy
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