Vol. 19, No. 2 March / April 2003  Issue Select 
Issue Details
Cover Title: The Search for the First Elkhorn Tunnel
Cover Subtitle: N&W's "Racetrack"
On the Cover: Class J 611 blasts through the east portal of the Elkhorn Tunnel on a Sept 27, 1994 excursion. It would be the last time a J would travel through the famed bore. 44 years earlier, a J would inaugurate service through the tunnel hauling the eastbound Powhatan Arrow (page 12). But is there anything left of the original tunnel? That's the subject of our cover story beginning on the opposite page.
Articles In This Issue
Elkhorn Mystery - Charles "Bucky" H. Wilson, Jr.
  Photo Above: The original Elkhorn Tunnel was a single track bore, and caused untold problems with engineers in steam days. This photo appeared in the March 1947 issue of the N&W Magazine in which plans were announced for its replacement. (N&W Magazine)
  Map This map from 1886 shows the end of the main line at Crozer, with a dotted line marking the extension through Flat Top Mountain and down Elkhorn Creek, Tug Fork and Big Sandy. (N&W Annual Report, 1886)
  Map Three years later, in 1889, you can see the rapid development that's taking place along Elkhorn Creek to Powhatan. (N&W Annual Report, 1889)
  Map Part of the track from the Office of the Chief Engineer, Roanoke, VA, Nov. 10, 1921, drawn to outline the course and topography for the proposed second tunnel from Ruth to Coaldale. This section shows the west portal of Elkhorn Tunnel (circled). The proposed route is shown as a dotted line, forming an arc between the coal company store and the boiler house, following the hillside to enter at about the fourth house at elevation 2400', with the track height at 2358'. Note the entrance elevation at track level of 2346.34', and the elevation at the top of the tunnel of 2382.16'. Pocahontas seam #3 at this location was at 2370'. Along the south side of the tracks we see the signal tower, barber shop (!), motor car house, store, tool house, and then the track leading off the southwest to the mining spur. The circular water tower is evident beside the southern wing abutment at an elevation of 2370'. On the north side of the tracks we see a 2-story frame house, coal company store, tool house, and the lead track to the old fan boiler house, with four additional houses along the hillside. Lastly, note the room and pillar pattern of mining coming down from the north. This collection of structures constitutes the town of Coaldale. (N&W Archives Collection)
  Photo The east portal of the old tunnel is shown at top, in a photo taken from the cab of an N&W electric heading west into the bore. What we discovered is left today is shown above...a concrete base that once held the catenary supports in that once-busy scene. (N&W Photo/VPI&SU Collection and Charles H. Wilson, Jr. photo)
  Photo This photograph, taken March 22, 2002, shows exactly what remains of the west portal of the old Elkhorn Tunnel. In the center of the left half we see the wing abutment along the south side of the approaching cut. In the very lower left, a small portion of the pile of rubble left over from the collapse of the powerhouse and the actual portal itself can be discerned. In the very center is the large concrete base for the water tower. This tower can be seen in the photo from Roger Whitt's collection (page 9). Its outline is seen on the 1921 N&W track map of the west portal (page7). (Charles E. Wilson, Jr. photo)
  Photo The eastbound Powhatan Arrow was the first train through the new, double track Elkhorn Tunnel, and there were photographers aplenty to record the occasion. This photo was taken moments before the sleek nose of the J broke the red ribbon inaugurating the new route on June 26, 1950. The distinctive ribbon is described in the July, 1950 issue of the company magazine, where this photo first appeared, as "a gay red, emblasoned with silver N&W monograms over each track." The westbound track would not see traffic for another two months. This photo was sent to its present owner, Harry Bundy, by the N&W from company files in 1950. It is actually a single frame from a movie that was taken by the railroad that day. (Harry Bundy Collection)
  Map Part of the track chart from the same 1921 proposed second tunnel, showing the east portal. Note the entrance elevation at track level of 2388.2' and the elevation of the top of the tunnel here at 2412.91'. This number correlates perfectly with our GPS calculations (2170 x 1.4% of 3000 = 2412). Note the lack of structures along this side of Flat Top Mountain at the actual tunnel entrance, again consistent with what we found there today. A half dozen or so houses can be seen further up Mill Creek, and several remaining foundations were seen at this site. These few structures must have been the actual location of Ruth. The line of the proposed new tunnel (dotted line) appears to enter the hillside at the very head of Mill Creek, going directly through at least four existing houses. The portal (circles) is drawn here at an elevation of 2440', with a track height of 2400'. Lastly, notice the room and pillar mining to the south, representing the limits of mining Pocahontas seam #3 from the mine heads in Pocahontas. (N&W Archives Collection)
  Photo This extremely rare photo looks west from atop the west portal of the old Elkhorn Tunnel around 1948. It represents the only known view of the base of the water tower, which can also be seen in the current photos (below). Note Coaldale Tower to the left (south) of the double tracks just opposite the signal catenary support. The mining spur coursing off to the left behind the water tower marks the course of the present roadbed coming up from Barlow Hollow. The lead track for hoppers bringing coal to the powerhouse is seen to the right. (Roger Whitt Collection.)
  Photo Here is the west portal of the old Elkhorn Tunnel, in a photo taken in 1917. Note the large water tower on the concrete base just to the right (south) of the track (N&W Photo, VPI&SU Collection)
The N&W Racetrack - Harry Bundy
  Photo No caption, photo of tangent track with two water plugs. (Harry Bundy photo)
  Photo Too fast for the camera to catch! Train No. 3, the Pocahontas, flashes by the "magnetic flagman" at U.S. 17 (Deep Creek Blvd). (Harry Bundy photo)
  Drawing Drawing of the line from Poe to South Norfolk, showing 52.17 mile tangent. (Harry Bundy)
  Photo Train No. 4, The Pocahontas, headed up by engine 601 overtakes the local in the traffic control territory west of Disputanta on Sept 1, 1956. (Harry Bundy photo)
  Photo Black smoke may be waste, but if that's what railfans want to see, that's what they get. J 611 heads up an NRHS fantrip, blasting through Yadkin, VA at 100 mph on "The Racetrack." The date is October 18, 1959, and this trip would be the locomotive's swan song, until its rebirth in 1982 for excursion service. (Harry Bundy photo)
N&W Freight Car Roster, Pt. 13 - 1948 - James F. Brewer
  Table Norfolk and Western Freight Car Roster, Jannuary 1, 1948 (N&W HS archival collection)
  Photo Class HB hoppers were built by Roanoke Shops, using trucks salvaged from Class GPa gondolas. N&W 73000 has full width arched ends and stem winder brake wheel, These cars would be rebuilt to Class H7 (N&WHS Archival Collection)
  Photo Class HBa were also constructed in Roanoke Shops with truck from the GPa gondolas. This class would be rebuilt at Roanoke Shops to Class H7a (N&WHS Archival Collection)
  Photo N&W 72566, a Class HK hopper built by Roanoke Shops, has a power hand brake. Compare the end of this class with the end of the Class HB and HBa cars. The HK cars were rebuilt to Class H8. (N&WHS Archival Collection)
  Photo Class H7 cars were rebuilt at Roanoke Shops from Class HB hopper cars. Note the new arched end arrangement with horizontal reinforcing angle and power hand brake. These cars retained the bottom operated uncoupling lever. (N&WHS Archival Collection)
Modeling an Accurate N&W Coal Train / Part 1, The Late-HL and H9 - Bob Chapman
  Photo No caption, Y6 No. 2141 eastbound along the New River (N&WHS Archives Collection)
  Data Sheet Hopper Car Roster, 1950 and 1955 (Bob Chapman)
  Photo The final 4000 cars of the 12,500-car HL class, squared sidesills replaced the angled sills under panels #2 and #7, and the heap shields were notched above the end ladders. Late-HL #58500 wears the post-1951 "large N&W" lettering style (NWHS Archives collection)
  Photo The first HL, #22000 bulit in 1936, illustrates the angled sidesills and unnotched heap shields typical of the 8500 cars of the early-HL design. The Stewart HO-scale model represents this carbody type. (NWHS Archives Collection)
  Photo Beginning in 1950, HL's were rebuilt to H9's, with carbodies nearly identical to the late-HL design. H9 #65391 illustrates a distinctive feature of many H9's - two-piece sidesheets, the result of replacing only the lower half as an economy measure during rebuilding. (NWHS Archives Collection)
  Photo 1 - We begin by adding .020" x .020" styrene strips to form the horizontal end bulb angle, and the diagonal end top angle. Once these strips are in place, the heap shield notch can be filed to match. A .010" x .020" strip will be added across the width of the end bulb angle. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 2 - We have filed away the sloping lower side sill of the original carbody, and replaced it with a sandwich strip of .040" x .100" and .020" x .100" styrene strip (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 3 - The side stake has now been extended downward across the new lower side sill, and we have filed the roping ring casting to correct shape. Spacer jigs are helpful in locating the .040" x .040" ladder stiles - a trapezoidal brass jig on the side, and a styrene strip jig on the end (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 4 - We fabricated our ladder drilling jig from styrene; the side of the jig nearest the camera will locate the 18" end grabs, while the other side will locate the 23" side grabs. An unpainted H9 carbody illustrates grab placement. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 5 - A styrene jig makes slope sheet brace fabrication simple and fun. The jig was painted for photographic clarity. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 6 - An end view illustrates brake system component location for the late-HL and H9. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 7 - This unpainted H( carbody shows the arrangement of the brake lever and its fulcrum; the late-HL arrangement is identical. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 8 - Hopper door beams and brake rigging show clearly on this H9 underbody; the late-HL was identical (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 9 - The interior of the late-HL and H9 features heavy diagonal side braces, tee clips on the slope sheets, and a grab on the heap shield. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 10 - Unpainted carbody for the late-HL. We can use this same carbody to complete our H9 by adding two-piece sidesheet panels (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo 11 - Completed unpainted carbody for our H9; the riveted lower sidesheet panels were formed from .005" styrene sheet. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo With paint and decals, our late-HL is complete; 4000 cars were originally built to the late-HL design. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo A side-by-side look at the late and early HLs highlights the carbody differences. The early-HL in the background was detailed using Jim Laney's techniques in the July/August 2000 Arrow on a factory-painted Stewart carbody. (Bob Chapman photo)
  Photo The completed H9; some additional weathering and perhaps a line of rust would be a good idea to further highlight the joint between the upper and lower sidesheet panels. (Bob Chapman photo)
Nuggests from the Archives / About Mr. Walschaerts and Mr. Baker... - Gordon Hamilton
  Drawing Diagrams of Walschaert and Baker-Pilliod Valve Gears (N&WHS Archives Collection)
  Drawing Indicator Diagrams from N&W CLass W Locomotives (NWHS Archives Collection)
  Table Definitions and explanation of a locomotive indicator diagram (The Steam Locomotive, Ralph P. Johnson, 1942)
The Tennessean / Early Box Express Cars - James Nichols
  Photo Two photos, no caption, showing #903 and # 60432 (N&W Photos/VPI&SU Collection)
The Virginian Local / the Class AE Feed Water Heater - Tom Salmon
  Drawing VGN Drawing 69-F, Locomotives, Worthington F.W. Heater, General Arrangement (NWHS Archives Collection)
  Photo Above: Class AE #806 rests with its brethern on a Princeton, WV storage track in the late 40's after a hard career. Still installed at retirement is the Worthington feed water heater and the front mounted air pumps. (H Ried photo)
The Virginian Local / Victoria, VA Railroad Park Update - Tom Salmon
In Scale / 1776 Postscript - Painting and Final Detailing - George Hughes
  Photo Three photos of completed HO model of SD45 1776 in Bicentennial paint scheme by Charlie Schlotthober (George Hughes photo)
In Scale / Aristo-Craft 1:29 Large Scale N&W/NW SD45 - A review - George Hughes
  Photo No caption, photo of top detail of Aristo-Craft SD45 (George Hughes photo)
In Scale / Product news - George Hughes
Vol. 19, No. 2 March / April 2003  Issue Select