Vol. 34, No. 1 January / March 2018  Issue Select 
Issue Details
Cover Title: Signaling Part 6
Cover Subtitle: The Unusal from Roanoke, Walton Tower, Villamont VA.
On the Cover: In the final installment of “N&W Signaling 1930– 1959, author Glenn Fisher covers the final five-year period, 1955 through the end of 1959. On April 14, 1956, N&W Y6a 2158 storms under the Blacksburg Branch bridge at Christiansburg, Virginia. The train has just passed position light signals that govern the track it’s on — the N&W standard was the right-hand set of heads governed the right-hand track and the left set of heads governed the left-hand track (in this case, the middle track). Though the indication on the signals can’t be seen from the back side, it’s obvious that this train has been cleared into the middle siding as it blasts past the photographer throwing steam and ash skyward.
Articles In This Issue
The Unusual From Roanoke - Thomas D. Dressler
  Photo Shortly after arrival at Roanoke, the 2300 was moved to one of the favorite locations of the company photographer at Salem, Virginia, for the first publicity photos, taken on May 22, 1954. Big Jawn was quite impressive from any angle. (N&W photo, Kevin EuDaly collection)
  Photo May 22, 1954, finds the company photographer preparing to take the first publicity photos of the newest locomotive on the N&W roster, 2300, Jawn Henry, when a deep, mournful whistle is heard in the distance and soon Class J 4-8-4 605 storms by with a fast passenger train. (N&W photo, Kevin EuDaly collection)
  Photo A number of photos of the steam turbine exist where crewmen are on top and around the locomotive — those on top are likely monitoring coal consumption. This photograph was taken in 1954 at Riverside, Virginia. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Another view with workers on top of the Jawn Henry, perhaps on the same day as the photo at the top, was taken at Cambria, Virginia. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The 2300 was at Bluefield, West Virginia, on August 11, 1954, with the requisite crew members atop the locomotive. (August A. Thieme, Jr., photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo These two images illustrate the turbine damage that consistently afflicted the Jawn Henry. Turbine technology has never been able to withstand the dirty nature of railroading, and a decade after Jawn Henry’s failure, the UP’s diesel turbines experienced many of the same problems. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo It’s the end of the line for the Jawn Henry, sitting at Roanoke on May 17, 1958, in derelict condition. It officially left the roster on December 31, five months earlier, and in a short time from when this photo was taken will be cut up and scrapped. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Class M-2 4-8-0 1100 before entering the Roanoke Shops for conversion to an automatic. The date was January 28, 1947. The 1100 represents the standard N&W switching locomotive of that era. (N&W photo, Kevin EuDaly collection)
  Photo This photograph finds the 1100 appearing as a completely different looking engine after her conversion to an automatic switcher. Somewhat top-heavy looking, it was soon followed by another locomotive, the 1112. The automatic switcher was photographed in Norfolk, Virginia, in service after its conversion from a standard 4-8-0. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The experimental locomotive that lead to the famous fast-freight hauler of the N&W, the Class A 2-6-6-4. Here we see the lone Z2 Class engine, 1399, posing for the first company shots in September 1928. While the rear three-fourths of the engine was purely N&W Z1a, the radically different front end was like nothing seen in Roanoke before. (N&W photo, Kevin EuDaly collection)
  Photo The direct descendants of the lone Z2 Class engine were N&W’s 43 Class A locomotives built at Roanoke between May 1936 and April 1950. N&W 1221, built in July 1943, was eastbound at Crewe, Virginia, on November 6, 1955. (August A. Thieme, Jr., photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo W-6 800 was built by Baldwin in November of 1898 was a W Class 2-8-0 and was rebuilt into an 0-8-0T shop switcher in October 1925. Assigned to the Roanoke Shops, it lasted until the end of steam operations on the N&W, after being renumbered to 10 in May 1957. It was finally scrapped in June of 1958. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo After being renumbered from 821 to 12, N&W Class W-6 takes a ride on the turntable at Shaffers Crossing in Roanoke on April 14, 1958. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Table W-6 Roster (roster from N&WHS Archives)
  Photo W-6 825 was photographed at Roanoke, Virginia, on June 21, 1940. This locomotive (as a 2-8-0 before being rebuilt into a tank engine) was involved in a wreck at Welch, West Virginia, on August 28, 1915, when Train 1 with 4-6-0 960 collided head-on with extra eastbound 825 (with 2-6-6-2 1311). (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This unusual action view captures the cab end of W-6 821 on the turntable at Shaffers Crossing on September 2, 1956. The tank arrangement resulted in the absence of a tender, and in its place a small coal bin was mounted on the frame where the fireman could access fuel for the locomotive. In May 1957 the 821 was renumbered 12. As can be seen in the notes on Table 1 at left, this locomotive was assigned to Shaffers Crossing, and is working its usual haunts. It was retired on April 25, 1958, a year after this photo was taken. (William Higginbotham photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Narrow Gauge 0-4-0 tank-locomotive 3 was switching the tie plant at Radford, Virginia, where it spent most of its life. It was built by the Vulcan Locomotive Works and began its life working for Inland Steel. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This three-foot beauty, built by Vulcan in August 1918 for Inland Steel, came to the N&W in 1921 and was used at the tie treating plant at East Radford, Virginia, until that plant was closed by a fire in 1957. Note the narrow gauge cars loaded with ties in the background. The ties are held to the cars with large steel straps. (J. R. Quinn photo, Kevin EuDaly collection)
  Photo Narrow Gauge 0-4-0T tank locomotive 2, built in 1922, appears to be in great shape on May 23, 1954, ready for work in Radford, Virginia. This was near the end of its service life — it was retired on November 28, 1955, and sold for scrap. (August A. Thieme, Jr., photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The huge Class D four-truck Shay, built by Lima in 1907 for the N&W, is shown in service at Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1910. Sold in 1917 to a used equipment dealer in Birmingham, Alabama, the much-traveled locomotive ended its days on the Red River Lumber Company in Westwood, California. (Kevin EuDaly collection)
  Photo During early 1917 it was determined that the Shay was of no use to the N&W and it was prepared for sale. The drive shafts were removed and the locomotive made ready for shipment to Alabama. (Kevin EuDaly collection)
N&W Signaling, 1930–1959 / Part 6 - Glenn Fisher
  Photo N&W Class S1 265 is at the Roanoke passenger station looking west on January 9, 1957, with a “stop” indication on the color position light on its track. The three decades from 1930 to 1959 saw remarkable changes in signaling infrastructure and technology. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo N&W Class A 1209 rumbles beneath the cantilever signal bridge at Elliston, Virginia, in this view taken no later than 1945. West of Elliston was CTC to Christiansburg, while east was controlled by automatic block signals. By 1955 position light signals had eradicated semaphores across the N&W. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Map N&W Signaling 1955
  Chart The signal aspect book from January 1,1960, reveals that there are no longer any semaphore signals in use on the N&W, other than those related to train orders at stations. Not only had steam disappeared, but the physical plant of the railroad was evolving, and the signal systems along with it. (Larry Evans collection)
  Photo The tiny train order office at Payne, Virginia, was photographed on March 8, 1965, illustrating a typical semaphore used to signal whether trains had to pick up orders or not. On this particular day, the train order signals were set to “proceed,” indicating that trains could pass by without picking up orders. By 1955 the only remaining semaphores on the N&W were at train order offices. (Dr. Frank R. Scheer photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Steam turbine Jawn Henry 2300 rolls into Bluefield, Virginia, on a westbound time freight. This view is looking east from the Bluefield passenger station in January 1955. Note the “S” under the number plates on both of the signals in view, indicating that these are “stop and stay” signals. (Roger F. Whitt photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This advertisement from a Signalman’s Journal magazine illustrates a CTC panel at work. While congratulating the Brotherhood of Signalmen of America on its new building, it also touted the N&W itself. (Larry Evans collection)
  Photo N&W A 1223 storms through Bonsack, Virginia, with a clear signal, and then meets a trio of GP9s rolling the other direction at speed sometime in the late 1950s. By then the main line at Bonsack was automatic block signaling with position light signals, and several locations on the main line were already converted to CTC, including a piece east of Christiansburg and another west of Montvale. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This 1963 advertisement states that by then 68.6 percent of all mileage on the N&W was under CTC control, significantly higher than the case in 1955 as indicated on the map on pages 14–15. (Larry Evans collection)
  Photo Heavy main line routes were ideal targets for upgrading to modern CTC systems, and the N&W spent significant resources to upgrade signal systems throughout its existence. In this spectacular view, a double-header led by Class Y6 2150 passes under a signal bridge populated with position light signals east of Bonsack, Virginia, on the Blue Ridge climb on November 17, 1957. This is N&W state-of-the-art railroading. (R. R. Malinoski photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The signal heads at any given location were specific to the routes and indications possible. This bridge at Powhatan is at the end of a middle siding, so the bottom head for the middle track has two possible indications, while the top head can only display “stop.” The two main line signal heads only have a single light for the bottom indication. Y6b 2185 passes under the shadow of the bridge on January 20, 1959. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Class A 1226 screams past signals in this view of machinery at speed in the late 1950s. This illustrates the real purpose of signals — allowing trains to move goods quickly and safely. Just as semaphores fell by the wayside in favor of position light signals such as these, they, in turn, fell to color position lights, and those to modern hooded color light signals. The signaling and train control evolution continues today with PTC (Positive Train Control). (O. Winston Link photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
Walton Tower / from the Norfolk and Western Magazine , January 1958 - reprint Norfolk & Western Magazine
  Photo Though the two freight trains pictured on the front cover of this issue were more than 50 miles apart when photographed, they are very closely allied in the Norfolk and Western’s transportation service. One is moving coal to Norfolk, the other is carrying merchandise freight to the Midwest, but both are working together to perform what the Williamson Daily News calls (below) “the big job” of transporting America’s production. “Nothing yet devised,” says the News, “or even seriously imagined can do so big, so com prehensive, so economical, and so efficient a hauling job as a string of cars on a track…” The top picture on the cover was taken just east of Montvale. The bottom picture was made at Walton while the Magazine was getting material for the story about Walton Tower in this issue. Time Freight Train No. 85 is shown just about to pass the tower. “NOTHING YET DEVISED or even seriously imagined can do so big, so comprehensive, so economical, and so efficient a hauling job as a string of cars on a track Railroads are all but immune to the influences of weather and season indeed, it is so rare for a train to be seriously delayed by such natural forces that when it does happen it becomes news. They can haul anything movable anywhere, at any time, in any quantity. The railroads have been around a long time. But, to apply a famous old line to them, ‘age has not withered nor has custom staled the infinite variety.’ They do the big job.” (Williamson (W. Va.) News, October 9, 1957)
  Photo First Trick Operator D. H. Akers watches the approach of steam-powered Second No. 99 from Walton Tower. It was a cold frosty morning.
  Photo Operator D. H. Akers takes a moment from his work to pose for a picture.
  Photo Second Trick Operator C. L. Akers watches the approach of Train No. 26, the Powhatan Arrow, on his track diagram.
  Photo Operator C. E. Leonard handles the third trick assignment, from 12:01am to 8:00am.
  Photo First No. 4, the Pocahontas, rolled by the tower at 10:10am, right on time.
  Photo Three diesel units, assigned to Walton for helper service, push a loaded coal train past the tower en route to Christiansburg.
  Photo Operator C. L. Akers watches as a coal train passes Walton Tower after dark.
  Photo Merchandise Train No. 51 passes Walton en route to Bristol.
  Photo Engineer F. W. Collins (right) and Fireman C. T. Linkous on one of the helper locomotives assigned to Walton.
  Photo Radford Division officers look over Mr. Akers’ station record of train move ments. From left: Superintendent C. H. Hale; Trainmaster A. F. Wilson; Clerk B. K. Haley; O. T. McGhee, assistant supervisor of signals; and R. D. Painter, assistant supervisor of bridges and buildings.
  Photo Operator D. H. Akers (in window) asks Signal Maintainer R. H. Miller to check a signal.
  Photo Assistant Signal Supervisor McGhee (right) and Signal Maintainer Miller in the relay room at Walton Tower.
The Machine at Walton Tower / Some Thoughts on Bill Gordon’s Wonderful Photograph Taken Inside BH Tower at Walton in 1958 - Kevin EuDaly; Abram Burnett; Bill Scheerer
  Photo Photo of the Dispatchers machine in Walton Tower.
Villamont Virginia - Bruce B. Harper
  Photo Y6 2137 powers a time freight past the double crossovers at Villamont, Virginia, in August 1939. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo A westbound empty hopper train with Class Y6a 2163 in command meets an eastbound at the west switch in Villamont on July 1, 1955. (John Krause photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The new Villamont signal tower, shown here, replaced one that was destroyed by a fire in 1907. (Virginia Tech Imagebase)
  Drawing This drawing was produced in support of a lawsuit but includes a detailed look at the track layout at Villamont on February 19, 1931. Shown in the drawing are crossovers in the center siding, the location of the interlocking tower north of the right-of-way, two tool houses, and other buildings including the Ayers Store and Willow Dale Tea Room. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This plan of Villamont Tower from February 19, 1931, was drawn for the case of A.S.Barksdale, Jr. vs. N&W Rwy Co. and shows the floor plan of operators office on second floor including the position of desk, levers, stove, and tables. It also shows the location of bullet hole in west window. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This photograph shows one of the small sheds at Villamont. (Virginia Tech Imagebase)
  Letter This is the April 23, 1912, letter from I. R. Longsworth requesting the station name change from Ironville to Villamont. It was received by the N&W in Roanoke on April 25, 1912. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Letter This advertisement appeared in The World News, on May 31, 1919, enticing readers with land prices at Villamont. One portion of the ad reads: “Our big seven-passenger car meets No. 4, the Norfolk and Western noon train, at Blue Ridge, on Sundays, and takes passengers from there to Villamont, one mile distant, without charge. Why not come down and see us some Sunday soon? Bring your family and your picnic lunch, if you choose, and enjoy a real outing in the glorious outdoor environment of Villamont beautiful.” The line at the very bottom in many ways defines the advertising of the era: “Villamont — the happy community of contented outdoor people.” (Bruce Harper collection)
  Photo A caboose crewman waves at the operator in US Tower at Villamont in this view. By this time the tower has been modified compared to the view on page 38 — there is no longer a platform on the front of the tower where the train order signal mast was located, and it now is mounted on the ground. (Virginia Tech Imagebase)
  Photo Class J 612 was captured at Villamont with a short westbound passenger train in tow on October 25, 1956. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This near broadside view of N&W Class J 606 with Train 25 near Villamont shows the pleasing countryside that the original investors hoped to cash in on when developing the area. The seven-car train was photographed from the parallel highway on October 13, 1957. (August A. Thieme, Jr., photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Majestic Class A 1214 strides along with empty hoppers passing weeping willow trees at Villamont on May 1, 1958. In the ensuing decades after the demise of steam Villamont slowly lost what little importance it had from a railroad perspective. Today, dual-lane U.S. 460 passes the railroad to the north of Villamont, and a number of homes dot the landscape where the original investors envisioned a larger community. The center passing siding is gone, leaving an obvious gap between the two main lines, but Norfolk Southern trains continue to roll through the “happy community of contented outdoor people” at Villamont, between Montvale and Blue Ridge. (N&WHS Archives collection)
Vol. 34, No. 1 January / March 2018  Issue Select