College Special Train and Special Car

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Jan 18 07:58:35 EST 2023

 Special trains were used to transport the entire Corps of Cadets from VPI (as Va Tech was known in the past) to Roanoke for the annual football game with VMI (Virginia Military Institute, same as today).  My experience was fall of 1959 and 1960, after the trains were dieselized, and also outside your upper date of your interest.  In these two cases, N&W supplied entire trains to carry the Corps (maybe as much as 2,500 people at that time)  to Roanoke and return.  I don't recall anything "special" about the equipment but I only saw the regular coaches that were used.  Because were were always in formation approaching and  leaving the train, I got no chance to railfan!!

Dave Stephenson, VT '63

    On Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 07:37:06 AM EST, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:  
Good evening,

My name is Tyler Herod and I am doing research on the Huckleberry (officially the Blacksburg Branch) and its historical connection to Virginia Tech. While researching, I found a source that makes constant reference to “special trains” and “special cars.” 

These trains and cars were always used to carry people for sporting events, often football games. The size of the people carried seemed to vary. For example, one section states “The Varsity departed Blacksburg by special railway car on Friday morning.” This implies that it was just one car on the train that was reserved. 

However, the source also states “The special Train from Lexington pulled into the station at Lynchburg at 12:30, and disgorged its mass of W. & L. students and supporters. The University Band of thirty-five pieces was with the group.” To me, this implies the entire train was reserved.

Does anyone know what the source may be referring to by “Special cars” and “Special Trains”? Were these just normally scheduled N&W trains where the colleges had reserved a car or the entire train, were these special services provided by Norfolk & Western due to the sporting events, or were these privately owned trains or cars operated on N&W rails? The time period for these events is roughly between 1902 to 1958.

Thank you for your time,

Tyler Herod

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