Saturday, October 27, 2012
While exploring the grades of a logging railroad in West Virginia, I was surprised to find an old camp! It happened in October 2012. The logging company was last operated in June 1960 and this line, nearly 4800 feet above sea level, saw use sometime prior to that date. Discovered and left in place were numerous glass bottles and jars, ruins of shanties, commercial oil cans and even a rusted through five gal. C&O RR oil can. It must have been "lifted" from the C&O which had a branch line about 10 miles away. Beside the frame of a bed was a, rotted, moss covered work boot! One can imagine a wood hick sitting on that bed to either put on or take of his leather work boots and for some reason, leaving this one behind. Perhaps its sole was worn through. In the picture above, a rusty bed spring can be seen between the boot and the bed frame on the left. In the pictures belw, we may see the second growth of Red Spruce trees growing in the old railroad grade. Along that grade are moss covered cross ties and in one picture, a lone spike stands above the moss.
This old logger's boot is now in the woods adjoining the Relic Garden, resting among ferns near the C&O signal.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Southern Railway Signal Finial
Standing 26 inches high and weighing 48 pounds, this cast iron finial adorned the top of a Southern Railway signal which protected a crossing diamond used by N&W and Southern railways in Lynchburg, Va. The structure was Union Station and in its heyday, it saw passenger trains of the Southern, Norfolk & Western and Chesapeake & Ohio railroads. Until December 1941, Lynchburg Traction & Light Company's street cars also called at the station on a street to the right and above the Southern track in the picture. In the larger vintage picture from 1956, N&W's westbound Powhatan Arrow passenger train is loading passengers at the station while a brace of Southern diesel switch engines wait in advance of the aforementioned signal. The Southern train will proceed once the N&W passenger train leaves and the signal gives a proceed indication. The Southern train is inside a short tunnel that passed under Ninth Street.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Shaffers Crossing Yard in Roanoke has long been a major marshal ling yard for Norfolk & Western Ry. At the west end of the yard is N&W's locomotive shop which had a 40 stall roundhouse in steam engine years. Two mainline-looking tracks curved around the roundhouse on the north side: They were called the "eastbound and westbound running tracks." Starting as a teenager in the 1950's, I went to Roanoke with my father as he worked from time to time and I always spent a few hours on an overhead foot bridge that spanned about a third of the east end of Shaffers Crossing yard on the north side. The bridge was used by railroad men to reach their jobs from Shenandoah Avenue. I appreciated the large N&W steam engines that were relegated to yard service with the coming of diesel locomotives and a highlight was to see the eastbound passenger train, "The Tennessean," a joint Southern and N&W train, as it passed beneath me on the eastbound running track. Just a short distance west of my vantage point was a small dwarf signal, informally called the "Eastbound Running Signal 18" because it was between 17th and 18th streets. The signal was a home made signal from the shops, just a pair of old PL-1 light cases from an N&W position light signal some place. The light cases were mounted one above the other and only gave two indications; "Approach" and "Stop." Authority for the running tacks did not come from the dispatcher or from the yard master but from switch tenders who worked at each end of the running tracks. And they were pretty much "automatic block" signals. The practice seemed dangerous and vague, but it worked. In 1970, the dwarf signal was taken out of service and replaced by a traditional mast mounted color position light signal.
I am grateful to Ben Blevins, Abram Burnett and Harry Bundy for their roles in making this signal a part of our Railroad Relic Garden.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I obtained another rare piece of Virginian Railway history when I received the GRS type - 2A Train Order Spectacle and Blade. I am told it came from the Virginian's Salem, Virginia station, milepost 251, when it was demolished in the 1970's. The spectacle is cast iron and weighs 85 pounds. In some pictures it appears it was made for four colored lens to give four indications. Actually, the last hole was for another weight to be added if necessary. On mine, the additional weight was not in place and the hole was covered with a thick sheet metal plate. The blade is wood and black on its back side. Assembled, all pieces were six feet in length and weigh 90 pounds, making it a difficult item to lift up a tall pole. Mine is mounted on a wall inside our home in a room decorated to represent the office for an agent-operator at "SA" Salem, Va. The picture shows it in use as a westbound freight train passes the station in November 1959.
Weighing a few hundred pounds, this cast iron stove was used in a Virginian Railway wood caboose of the C-1 class and built between 1906 and 1924. The donor caboose had been purchased from the N&W in 1960, a year after the VGN/N&W merger, and placed beside a private lake in Nottoway County, Virginia. After arriving at our Relic Garden in 2011, it has been repaired, cleaned and treated so it can continue to be useful for many more decades. It addition to cooking outdoor meals it is used by Charlotte as a wood fired kiln for her pottery work.