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Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Group
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   Author  Topic: Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Group  (Read 6503 times)
vaoverland
Chaser
Posts: 75
Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Group
  Takin20photoSlickandCornbread.jpg - 178749 Bytes
« on: Oct 18th, 2004, 4:49am »
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Roanoke Times has a very nice article about "Takin' Twenty
with the Virginian Brethren," the weekly meetings of VGN retirees
where they share railroading stories and answer questions posed in
our online group from as far away as our armed forces in the middle
east. Skip Salmon's reports have become a popular Wednesday night
feature in our online group.
 
The newpaper story includes a front page photo of a model of the
locomotive they are hoping Norfolk Southern will paint for 2007 to
commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Virginian
Railway and 2 other photos. The reporter did a great job.
 
Here are the links to the text story. The photos from the story which
have been scanned, are posted in our group FILES section. The
reporter explained to us that the newspaper doesn't offer photos
online (yet). <gr>
 
Mark Fisher, comoderator, VGN Enthusiasts Group
 
http://www.roanoke.com/neighbors/12166.html
 
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/


http://Forums.Railfan.net/Images/Virginian/Takin20photoSlickandCornbread.jpg
Click Image to Resize

« Last Edit: Oct 18th, 2004, 5:02am by vaoverland » Logged

MARK FISHER, Group Moderator
Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts, Richmond Rails, and Juice Train Enthusiasts on Yahoo

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/RichmondRails/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/JuiceTrainEnth
vaoverland
Chaser
Posts: 75
Re: Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Gr
  Takin20photo2.jpg - 13155 Bytes
« Reply #1 on: Oct 18th, 2004, 4:57am »
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About the neat story our guys got in the Roanoke Times, there is a consensus in the group that the reporter, photographer, and composition folks at the newspaper collectively did an outsytanding job on facts and presentation. In addition to the newspaper's photos, we have a sample letter to Norfolk Southern about the Virginian Railway commemorative locomotive request available in our VGN Enthusiasts group FILES section for anyone who may wish to see them and/or write in and add a voice to the request to NS.  
 
Because the link to the story I posted in the previous message will expire, I am copying the text by Ms. Hattie Brown here. I hope y'all enjoy it as much as we have.  
 
Mark Fisher, co-moderator, Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts Group on Yahoo
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/  
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Roanoke Times - Thursday, October 14, 2004
 
Takin' Twenty With the Virginian Brethren
 
At a row of square tables in the back of Country Cookin' restaurant in Southwest Roanoke County, a group of men talked about their younger days working on the Virginian Railway.  
 
Keith "Slim" Sowder, of Southwest Roanoke, recalled the day in November 1950 when his new Plymouth was unloaded from a boxcar. He later mentioned the time he fell asleep on a bench near where he worked and didn't stir after his co-workers lit a firecracker near him.  
 
Russell "Slick" Inge, of Salem, shared a story about the derailment of a Norfolk-bound train in Phenix, Va. in the 1950s. Before the train left Roanoke, Inge approved the addition of 10 carloads of coal to the train, which was rarely done. Without the additional cars, the train's cab, which had two men in it, would have run off the trestle and fallen into a creek.  
 
Hard work. Mishaps. Triumphs. Each story was more outrageous than the next.  
 
As the night of Sept. 29 wore on, the air grew thick with cigarette smoke and the men's voices grew louder.  
 
The following week those men would follow the same routine.  
 
Every Wednesday, 10 to 20 men meet for what they call "Takin' 20" - a term used to describe the 20-minute meal break given to certain railroad employees.  
 
Over plates covered with cole slaw, mashed potatoes, red gelatin, corn-bread muffins and fruit cobbler, they share their railroad memories and discuss ways to preserve the Virginian Railway's presence in the Roanoke Valley.  
 
The history of the Virginian Railway and its eventual demise, in some ways, is also the story of their lives.  
 
The Virginian Railway was made up of the Deepwater and Tidewater railways, which were renamed in 1907. It ran from Deepwater, W.Va., to Sewell's Point in Norfolk and mostly hauled coal. The Virginian was also known for transporting auto parts for a Ford plant in Norfolk and running passenger trains.  
 
Occasionally, the Virginian would go beyond Deepwater to Charleston, W.Va., using Chesapeake & Ohio and New York Central tracks.  
 
At least twice in its history, the Virginian had brushes with fame. Mark Twain, a friend of Virginian builder and financier Henry Huttleston Rogers, attended the opening of the Virginian. Then, in October of 1916, Buffalo Bill Cody brought his Wild West show to Roanoke. After his performance, Cody got on the Virginian to ride to Portsmouth for another show. On the way there the train was involved in an accident in Abilene and many of Cody's animals were killed.  
 
In 1959, Virginian Railway merged with Norfolk and Western Railway. The two railways ran parallel to each other and competed in the coal-hauling business for years. The Virginian track was desirable because it was fairly straight and went by rivers, meaning it followed a gentle slope.  
 
N&W merged with Southern Railway in 1982 and became Norfolk Southern Corp.  
 
For years, the men of the Virginian Railway had kept in touch, even after retiring. But about five or six years ago they decided to start meeting at Country Cookin'. As more heard about the group, attendance at the meetings grew.  
 
"We're just like a big family," said Grover Austin, of Southwest Roanoke County.  
 
Out of all the men who meet weekly, only two never worked for the Virginian. One of those men, Skip Salmon, leads many of the group's outside projects and has tried to document the men's memories.  
 
Salmon, who retired from NS on Sept. 1 and has a strong interest in local railroad history, started attending the Takin' 20 meetings in April. At 60, he is younger than most of the attendees but said he still feels at home.  
 
Salmon, of Southwest Roanoke County, began taking notes at all of the meetings and posts the write-ups on a listserv for Virginian enthusiasts.  
 
"I enjoy these old guys, the stories they tell," Salmon said. "This is living history. Somebody needs to write this down."  
 
With the former Virginian Railway employees, talking about the railway is just as important as preserving it.  
 
The men sell "Friends of the Virginian Railway" T-shirts and collect donations in hopes that one day the former Virginian Railway passenger station in Roanoke can be reopened as a museum.  
 
The last Virginian train left the passenger station, which sits at Jefferson Street and Williamson Road, in 1956. The station later closed and then reopened as Depot Feed & Seed until a fire in 2001.  
 
Despite its poor condition because of fire damage, the passenger station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered a treasured landmark among former Virginian Railway employees.  
 
The Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society now owns the station and has plans to restore it to its original state.  
 
Salmon has already begun collecting items for display if the station is ever renovated and converted into a museum. He has booklets, photos and tons of other memorabilia, including about 40 patches representing many of the police departments in areas where the Virginian ran.  
 
In addition to creating a museum, many former Virginian Railway employees want to find a special way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Virginian. They are rallying for NS to paint a locomotive in Virginian colors and run it for a while as a memorial.  
 
If there's one thing the former Virginian Railway employees look forward to more than weekly meetings, it's the annual trip to Victoria, Va.  
 
Victoria was a halfway point on the Virginian rail line. A lot of crew changes were made in Victoria, which had a large rail yard and a roundhouse. After the Virginian merged with N&W, Victoria wasn't needed much anymore.  
 
Every year, a group of former Virginian employees congregates in Victoria to reminisce. This year, about a dozen men from the Roanoke Valley will be heading there Oct. 30.  
 
Though many of the men went on to work for N&W, they are most nostalgic about their time with the Virginian.  
 
"It was a no-frills, no-nonsense railroad," Salmon said. "They bought the best equipment. They treated the people really well."
 
end/
 
 
 


http://Forums.Railfan.net/Images/Virginian/Takin20photo2.jpg
Click Image to Resize

Logged

MARK FISHER, Group Moderator
Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts, Richmond Rails, and Juice Train Enthusiasts on Yahoo

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/RichmondRails/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/JuiceTrainEnth
vaoverland
Chaser
Posts: 75
Re: Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Gr
  VGN_Enthusiasts_Group_RT_photo_header_resized.jpg - 91092 Bytes
« Reply #2 on: Oct 18th, 2004, 5:15am »
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Here is a modified version of the Roanoke Times cover page photo. The original was way too large to post here, so you just have to go to the FILES on our group site of you want to see it as big as it was in the newspaper.  
 
Regarding the choice of numbering for the locomotive, 1907 was the founding year for the VGN, and we think that number is currently not in use by NS. The livery is a hybrid combination of that used on VGN electrics and diesels after WWII, modified for the most recent GE's.  
 
Comments, anyone?
 
Mark Fisher, co-moderator, Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts Group on Yahoo
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/    


http://Forums.Railfan.net/Images/Virginian/VGN_Enthusiasts_Group_RT_photo_header_resized.jpg
Click Image to Resize

« Last Edit: Oct 18th, 2004, 5:27am by vaoverland » Logged

MARK FISHER, Group Moderator
Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts, Richmond Rails, and Juice Train Enthusiasts on Yahoo

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/RichmondRails/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/JuiceTrainEnth
vaoverland
Chaser
Posts: 75
Re: Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Gr
 
« Reply #3 on: Oct 27th, 2004, 5:36am »
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Just a quick reminder that the Takin' Twenty fellows meet almost every Wednesday night.  
 
Skip Salmon usually posts a report and shares the week's stories in the Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts Group on Yahoo by Thursday mornings.  
 
Everyone online is invited to come and share in the fun.
 
Mark Fisher, comoderator


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MARK FISHER, Group Moderator
Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts, Richmond Rails, and Juice Train Enthusiasts on Yahoo

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VirginianRailwayEnthusiasts/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/RichmondRails/

http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/JuiceTrainEnth
JWHISTLE

Posts: 74
Re: Roanoke Times Story about Virginian Railway Gr
 
« Reply #4 on: Oct 27th, 2004, 8:32pm »
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Nice looking model.
 
While everyone including myself would love to see a VGN painted engine again I feel unless its Southern or Southern related we won't see it.  Case it point, the N&W Railway's 100th anniversary came in 1996 and went with no N&W painted engine.  
 
Southern 4610, done for the 100th anniversary of the Southern Railway in 1994, has even received another coat of green.  Please NS prove me wrong.


« Last Edit: Aug 9th, 2005, 12:02pm by JWHISTLE » Logged

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