College Special Train and Special Car

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Jan 18 19:52:03 EST 2023


I’d like to invite you to jon the N&WHS and share your research in the form of an article for the Arrow.

In the passenger era, roughly prior to the mid-1960s, the N&W and other railroads commonly ran special trains, and or special cars on regular trains for groups or events.

This included running specials from Virginia Tech to the annual bowl game in Roanoke or Lynchburg prior to Roanoke.

Special cars could be lounge type cars or reserved coaches for the group. If there was the demand, and enough interest, the trains were run as specials of multiple cars. In the case of the bowl game in Roanoke, they would take a special train to Blacksburg, pick up the riders and then run it back to Roanoke, unloading at the passenger station, and the cadets would march across town to Victory Stadium for the game, then after it was over, return the same way, back to the station, and run the train to Blacksburg.

Generally, the use of special trains and such declined rapidly at the end of the steam era, but was still occasionally seen. That would include special trains for N&W veterans to take them to their annual convention, some military moves. As others reported, the end of the special trains for Blacksburg was 1963. There were several factors that probably came into play for that. The condition of the track on the Huckleberry was suffering from reduced maintenance, in an effort to abandon part of the line (I believe in 1966.) Secondly, the availability of a number of cars had declined as well for this type service, as the railroad sold off a number of older cars beginning in the late 1950s.

Ken Miller

> On Jan 17, 2023, at 11:15 PM, 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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