Vol. 18, No. 2 March / April 2002  Issue Select 
Issue Details
Cover Title: Bluestone Junction
Cover Subtitle: 3 Miles of Track... A century of Change
On the Cover: Taken from exactly inside the rails of the abandoned Pocahontas line (barely visible in the grass in the foreground) looking east, this is the location of the original Bluestone Junction, the subject of our cover story. The switch for the Pocahontas Branch once existed just opposite the Pennsy-style position light signal. Around the bend, the rear of the train is immediately beside the foundations of the old power plant and motor barn. Sadly, not only are all of the older structures gone, but even the signals have now been replaced with NS/Southern style lights. The story of the changes of the Bluestone Branch through the years begins on page 4.
Articles In This Issue
Bluestone Junction / The historical evolution of a critical 3 miles - Charles "Bucky" H. Wilson, Jr.
  Photo Today's Bluestone Junction remains a hotbed of activity. Here, a consist led by an EMD SD60 pulls a string of loaded hoppers east toward Norfolk. A helper set will appear at the end of the train, to be cut off at the summit in Bluefield. We are looking west toward the abandoned Pocahontas line (the void area just to the left of the signal tower). Again, the switch to Pocahontas once existed just beyound the shadow cast by the signal almost exactly at the location of the lead unit. The small bridge over the Bluestone River is visible just to the right of the diesel. The old passenger shed would have been between the second unit and the river, and the supplemental power/storage facility would have occupied the flat area on the other side of the river. The last visible hopper marks the switch to the Bluestone Branch, and the helpers will soon exit the east portal of Cooper Tunnel which penetrates the ridge behind the lead unit just below the firecracker antenna. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Map This map, from the N&W Railroad Annual Report of 1890, shows the original Bluestone Junction at milepost 374, with the line branching south to Pocahontas at that point. The main line then continues along the Bluetone River and around Laurel Ridge, branching again at Mill Creek where one branch heads through the newly bored Elkhorn Tunnel, and the other becomes the Bluestone Branch to Bramwell and points north. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Map This map shows the same area as the map above, but is from the N&W Annual Report of three years later. It shows the proposed realignment through Laurel Ridge, which in 1902 became reality with the boring of Cooper Tunnel and the construction of the trestle across the Bluestone River at Cooper. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Map This current map shows the track arrangement at Coopers and Bluestone Junction from the last realignment in 1950 when the new Elkhorn Tunnel was bored. (A) is the original main line up Mill Creek; (B) is the roadbed of the 1902 realignment (double-tracked in 1922); (C) is the current main line through the new Elkhorn Tunnel; (D) is the point at which the Bluestone Branch breaks from the main line; (E) is where the Pocahontas Branch breaks from the main line (switch now removed.) (Reprinted with permission, DeLorme, Street Atlas USA)
  Photo This photo, taken by member Roger Whitt in 1949 during the construction of the new bridge at Cooper, looks west and corresponds with the map above. The letters of indication show the same three different rail lines up the east Elkhorn grade shown on the map, with the one exception being (B), which today is simply an unused roadbed. (Roger Whitt Photo)
  Photo An N&W photo from the 1930's shows Bluestone Junction looking west. Note the Y4 (with the old-style smokebox front) approaching from the west. Bluestone Tower (SU), just left of the train, stands between the Pocahontas line and the main line. Supporting railroad structures stand at far left, and the Bluestone auxiliary power house is across the river from the passenger shed. (VIP & SU Collection)
  Photo The exact same scene (as the prior photo) in March, 2001. A high level of activity continues at Bluestone Junction. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Photo A fence separated the east- and westbound lines at Bluestone Junction, which placed westbound passengers in the unfortunate situation of having to walk beneath the tracks of both lines to reach the passenger shed for boarding. (N&W Photo, VPI & SU Collection)
  Photo The current view shows all the remains . . . the foundation of the old passenger shed. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Photo The view looking east shows the passenger station for Bluestone Junction, a good portion of which was actually built out over the Bluestone River. (N&W Photo, VPI & SU Collection)
  Photo Today, only the bridge, with a pedestrain walkway, remains. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Photo This current photo of the east portal of Cooper Tunnel illustrates the realignment of 1902. The train on the rising main line is beginning to ascend toward Flat Top Mountain. The lower track is the original main line before 1902, and is today the beginning of the Bluestone Branch. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Map Tom Harris, a retired professor of anatomy at MCV in Richmond, lived at Bluestone in the 1930s. Here are a few memories Dr. Harris allowed us to share: (Tom Harris)
  Photo This close-up view of the west portal of Cooper Tunnel shows the date of its original realignment in 1902. Interestingly, although the original tunnel was single track, and the current bore was double-tracked in 1922, the stonework above the portal retains the date of the original alignment! Was the original keystone retained and re-installed, or was it re-cast? And if it WAS re-cast, why wasn't the date of the new bore used? We'll probably never know. (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Sidebar Bluestone Junction: a chronology. A brief summary of the track changes in the Bluestone Junction - Cooper area: (Charles H. Wilson Jr.)
  Sidebar Bluestone Junction: The wreck of The Cavalier: Cooper, WV (Original I.C.C. Report)
N&W Dieselization, Conclusion / A Whole New Order - Robert G. Bowers; Mason Y. Cooper
  Photo John P. Fishwicks ascendancy to the N&W presidency brought the return of black paint to N&W motive power as the railroad worked through the difficult and inflationary 1970s. (N&W Photo / VPI&SU Collection)
  Photo The GE U30B appeared on paper to be a rugged locomotive, but proved to be less than reliable on the road. Built in May of 1971, the 8521 seen here is at Binghampton, NY on an N&W/D&H run-through from former NKP territory. The locomotive was traded back to GE for C30-7's in 1979. (Mason Y. Cooper Collection)
  Photo Until the price of oil began escalating in the mid-70's, N&W could do little else than order additional SD40/SD40-2's. Here, No. 1621 lies over at Shenandoah, VA in March of 1980. That white spot is not paint, but lime deposited on the long hood during a switching move at Riverton Lime & Stone near Riverton Junction, VA. (Mason Y. Cooper Photo)
  Photo No caption. A portrait of Robert Claytor (N&W Photo / VPI&SU Collection)
  Photo The presidency of Robert Claytor brought a new paint scheme with the lettering "NORFOLK AND WESTERN" spelled out on the long hood. SD40-2 No. 1650 illustrates this paint scheme during a layover in Shenandoah, VA in December, 1980. (Mason Y. Cooper Photo)
  Photo Hard to believe this is an N&W passenger train, but it is. EMD F40PH No. 115 is one of two leased units from the Chicago Regional Transit Authority for use in the Orland Park commuter service. The train is departing Chicago on a hot August day in 1981. (Robert G. Bowers Collection)
  Photo The SD50 was meant to replace the SD40-2 in the EMD product line, but was found to be less than satisfactory. In this photo, SD50S Nos. 6501 and 6503 lead a coal train eastward out of Welch (WV) Tunnel in October, 1982 after stopping at Farm, WV to pick up a helper set. (Mason Y. Cooper Photo)
  Photo The C36-7's were delivered at the time of the Norfolk Southern merger, and epitomized the shift towards General Electric as N&W's primary locomotive supplier. In this view, No. 8520 rides the dynamic brakes downgrade away from the bridge at Maybuery, WV in October, 1982. (Mason Y. Cooper Photo)
  Photo NW/FM Slug No. 9914 at the service area in Norfolk, VA in July, 1980. The unit was built in July, 1976 from VGN No. 74, nee N&W No. 174. (Robert G. Bowers Collection)
The Tennessean / Virginian MB Variations - James Nichols
  Photo No captions. Five photos of variations in Virginian Rwy Class MB 2-8-2's. (Jim Brewer Collection)
The Virginian Local / Virginian Battleship Gondolas: Part 1 - Martin E. Swartz
  Photo Virginian 120 Ton Capacity G-4 Gondola (Original Photo reprinted from VGN booklet)
Product Review / Virginian Resource CD - Aubrey Wiley
In Scale / Modeling N&W's U28B / The latest product news - George Hughes
  Photo N&W's U28B No. 1906 in the as-delivered blue (F-4) paint scheme. Note the simple right-angle bend of the cab handrail. (George Hughes Collection)
  Photo N&W's U28B No. 1929 in the blake (F-6) paint scheme. Here, there's a relatively complex bend in the handrail between the rear of the cab and the rear step. (George Hughes Collection)
  Photo HO model of the U28B No. 1908, left side. (George Hughes Photo)
  Photo Right rear 3/4 view of U28B #1908, showing the high short hood, all-weather windows, and location of equipment box on the right-hand running board ahead of the cab. (George Hughes Photo)
Vol. 18, No. 2 March / April 2002  Issue Select