Vol. 30, No. 1 January / March 2014  Issue Select 
Issue Details
Cover Title: The Debut of Alco RS-11s
Cover Subtitle: On Home Rails, Rails Remembered, Chapter 84: The Debut of Alco
On the Cover: Made on 5/10/1956, this is believed to be the first photograph by an N&W photographer of a diesel-powered train on the Pocahontas Division. Alco RS-11 units 315, 313, 310, 309, and 311, all practically brand new, make up the five-unit consist handling a 127-car, 11,261-ton eastbound coal train at Big Four, West Virginia, about two miles west of Kimball. Three more units — RS-11 324, RS-3 304, and RS-11 320 — are pushing on the rear.
Articles In This Issue
On Home Rails - Ed Painter
  Photo At 11:40am Lehigh Valley 8104 and NS 8120, operating as a light pusher set, drift through Welch, West Virginia. Though the Lehigh Valley unit is far from home rails, it will be shoving on a coal train from Auville to Flat Top yard behind a long string of hoppers with the N&W heritage unit up front. (Ed Painter)
  Photo At 2:04pm and the sun has vanished into cloud cover. N&W General Electric ES44AC is on the lead of a train of coal ready to depart the Auville Yard in Iaeger, West Virginia. The steam-era coal dock stands by, long ago silenced and relegated to disuse by the diesels that displaced steam on these very rails. (Ed Painter)
  Photo Coal train J83 is finally on the move out of Iaeger at Sandy Huff at 2:51pm, still under cloudy skies. This is the location of the former Iaeger drive-in theater, made famous by O. Winston Link’s nighttime photograph entitled Hotshot Eastbound of N&W Class A 1242 on a manifest passing the moviegoers. The movie screen was not far from the building in this view. (Ed Painter)
  Photo N&W 8103 and EMD SD60M 6781 provide 4,400 horsepower and 3,800 horsepower, respectively. Here they muscle the coal tonnage through one of the 362-foot twin tunnels at Huger at 3:49pm. The tunnels were drilled in 1912, are lined with concrete their entire length, and sit on a 1.0 percent uphill eastbound grade. At this point the locomotives’ 8,200 horsepower is in full use, along with that of the Lehigh Valley-NS combination pushing. (Ed Painter)
  Photo Working hard on the Elkhorn Grade at Ennis, just west of Switchback, the units roar past a church parallel with US Highway 52 to the left. This was a Friday, and the tonnage was through here at 4:29pm, nearing the summit at the Elkhorn Tunnel just a few miles to the east. (Ed Painter)
  Photo At 4:47pm the ascent on Elkhorn Grade is behind as the train rolls cross Highway 120, Coopers Road, the Bluestone River, and County Highway 20/2 at Cooper on the portion of the railroad rebuilt in 1950. To the photographer’s back is the west portal of Cooper Tunnel, beyond which the rails rejoin the pre-1950 original main line right-of-way. (Ed Painter)
  Photo At 5:00pm the train has arrived at Flat Top Yard and sits in West Virginia right at the Virginia state line. To the left are classic N&W color position signals, ever more an endangered species on the N&W. The train picked up an additional 50 loads at Flat Top, then ran east to Bluefield after dark as an 800-series tidewater coal train destined for Norfolk. (Ed Painter)
Virginian Locomotives Survive / And a Look at Norfolk And Western’s Model Railroad - Glenn Downing
  Photo This is the Virginian’s model of 64, an F-M H-24-66 Train Master. This is a brass model with a lot of heft — it weighs one-and-a-half pounds. Only one truck is powered, and this is by a worm drive to the center axle. Power is transferred to the front and rear axles of this truck with coiled spring-like devices. A quick inspection did not reveal any manufacturer’s name. The paint is flaking off in several places, and rough handling has knocked off several of the vertical stanchions for the handrails and the footboards. (Glenn Downing)
  Photo The Virginian’s models included this version of the 131, a General Electric EL-C. This model shows the ingenuity of the Virginian personnel responsible for the construction and maintenance of locomotives for the Virginian corporate HO model layout. To the best of my knowledge, in 1959 there were no commercially available HO models of the GE rectifier locomotive, so the enterprising Virginian lads got four plastic GP7/GP9 non-dynamic brake dummy units, cut them apart near the cabin steps and glued them together. One can easily see the glue line and the elatively sloppy cut line when looking closely. They then fabricated a cab, bolted a metal roof on top above the cab and bolted a standard pantograph on the roof. On the roof at the rear of the locomotive a bar of metal was glued to match the roof line of the real ELCs. A brass frame was cut to fit into the bottom of the glued-together plastic body, and three-axle Hobbytown trucks were mounted to the frame. To conform to the looks of the EL-C’s underbody frame, a piece of metal was bent into a channel and bolted under the brass frame. The entire body was then painted black and Virginian decals were set in place. Apparently there were major problems with the decal stripes along the sides, as the decals were replaced with what appears to be thin plastic yellow striping. This part of the model is very crudely done, yet from a distance of five feet or more the model looks pretty good, very much like the full-sized locomotives they were modeling. (Glenn Downing)
  Photo The 130 is another model of a GE EL-C. This model has seen harder times than 131 shown above. It is missing the channel beneath the brass frame that corresponded to the frame on the full-sized EL-C. The model has a pantograph mounted, but stripped of paint. I have forgotten whether I found the model with the stripped pantograph or if I tried to clean up the bad paint job on it. This model more clearly shows the assembly techniques used by the Virginian shop forces. The original paint can be seen through and above the cab windows and was yellow, suggesting an Athearn model of a Union Pacific GP7 or GP9. After cutting off the cab ends of the two Athearn models and gluing the hoods together, the cab sides were cut off two of the remaining front end pieces. These cab sides were glued into place approximately where the cab would be on an EL-C. The pantograph was bolted onto a purchased metal mounting — stimated to have been purchased based on the fine workmanship of the metal tabs holding the pantograph base onto a bent metal mounting bracket, and the fact that the curved spark arrestor above and forward of the cab on a full-sized EL-C was not modeled. This left fairly wide openings above the cab sides and the pantograph base, again letting us see the original bright yellow color of the original model shell. Athearn started making such Union Pacific GP7/GP9 models in early 1957, which suggests a date of late 1957 that this model would have been constructed — probably in time for Christmas displays in 1957. (Glenn Downing)
  Photo This HO-scale model is of an unnumbered H-16-44. It appears to be a standard issue Hobbytown model; standard issue that is, except for the paint and decal job. The model locomotive appears to have had the yellow color partially repainted. The black appears to have been spray painted, but some of the yellow appears to have been brushed on. There is not enough of any of the original underlying factory coat of paint to definitely see what (or even if) the original paint was. Looking at the paint with a bright light at a very low angle seemed to reveal an underlying number. My best guess is there is a small chance there was an underlying four-digit number, the last digit of which appeared to be a “2.” The Virginian decals on this model are neat and well done, and the logos on the ends of the unit are very well done, but in only one color. The excellent decal job tends to indicate a low probability that this was repainted. The motor has been replaced and is held in place with a piece of hand-formed aluminum. (Glenn Downing)
  Photo This is a bad-ordered Virginian hopper car. It was initially unclear to me why this one car was left off the N&W layout. The underframe of the car had been milled away to accommodate the Mantua couplers, and the car numbers (23335) on each side had been mostly removed, leaving only the leading number “2” so that a new and different number could have been decaled on (the initials and numbers on the ends of the car were untouched). The car had been properly weighted with lead birdshot. One of the stirrups on the “B” end of the car was missing, but based on the poor cosmetic condition of other Virginian model equipment, this would not have been disabling. A closer inspection suggests an answer. One of the two milling jobs done on the car’s under-frame for the Mantua couplers had not been set up right, and the milling was at an angle. Mounting a Mantua coupler on this angled site would have forced the coupler into an upwards angle, and thus the mounted coupler would not have been parallel to the track surface. This upward angled coupler would not have mated with other Mantua couplers. (Glenn Downing)
  Photo This is what I believe to be an uncompleted HO-scale model of an EL-2B. This was an interesting and intriguing find. It was fun to try to figure out why there would be a Pittman motor with a gear, eight two-axle truck sets, two of which had Hobbytown worm gear drives, two of which had Hobbytown gear boxes, but no gears, and four of which were simply coined metal truck sides with bolsters and wheels, plus two bars of machined brass, all seemingly unrelated to the other Virginian models found stored in a drawer in Norfolk & Western’s air brake shop in Roanoke in 1965. Of course, the Hobbytown model of the H-16-44 had the same design side frames, but they were plastic. These side frames for the eight truck sets were all coined brass. The most logical explanation is that they were for a prospective model of a General Electric EL-2B, the Virginian’s “Streamliner.” My guess is the Virginian’s model builders would have used the metal or plastic shells from Varney or Athearn F units, and increased the length in the same way they had cut and glued the Athearn GP7 or GP9 units to the proper EL-C length. The problem would have been to accommodate the four trucks under each section of the EL-2B. It appears the two pieces of machined brass were initial attempts to build span bolsters, which can be very difficult to construct so that geared power can be transmitted to the wheels and still have the model locomotive go around curves while pulling cars. Perhaps this difficulty is why we never saw an EL-2B on the Virginian’s layout. The eight truck sets were photographed against a diagram of an HO-scale EL-2B. It looks as if it might have worked if they could have solved the drive mechanism/span bolster problem. (Glenn Downing)
Norfolk And Western’s Model Railroad - Tony Cook
  Photo This is the N&W’s HO-scale promotional layout that was built in late 1957, most likely on display in the Hotel Roanoke. Talk about N&W Heritage! The lumber yard, seen in the foreground above the N&W Y and below the N&W J passenger train, is Suydam’s Valley Lumber Co. Kit, a post-WWII-to-late-1950 original. Most of the 40-foot box cars appear to be Mantua plastic ones, which were introduced in the mid-1950s. Behind the N&W Y at the bottom of the image is a round-top, 50-foot double-door N&W wood/metal Athearn kit from pre-plastic days (1940s-1950s availability). Behind that, the black tank car is Varney from 1954, the Maine Central box car is early Mantua or Athearn (one can tell from the black raw metal door runners above and below the sliding door), the same for the Boston & Maine 40-foot box car, and they date to the introduction of injection molding — mid-1950s. Between those box cars is a Pennsy 40-foot gondola that’s a Mantua model that is WWII-to-1950s vintage. Structure kits look to be Suydam or old Campbell Scale Models card-stock buildings, which date to the 1950s or before. There are a few Plasticville USA kits, the gas station above the N&W J, for example, and they appeared in the early 1950s when plastic was new for models. The N&W coal facility appears to utilize components from Suydam’s Black Bart, Buckhorn, and Red Lake Mine offerings; and then a custom structure was scratch built from these various kits. The “modern” freight terminal just above the three N&W Geeps in the lower right corner looks to be a combination of kits or scratch built. It’s difficult to tell from the image, but the trio of EMD Geeps are likely early Athearn plastic (introduced in 1957), Lawrence Line metal kits (1950 release) or they might be the early Tenshodo-made Japanese brass imported by Pacific Fast Mail. If there’s a brass engine in this picture, my guess might be that N&W GP9s could be brass. Tenshodo’s GP7 was released in 1955. I’d like to find this layout under my tree at Christmas! (Courtesy Jimmy Lisle, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing Arrangement of track boards and tables, Model Railroad. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This N&W drawing from May 20, 1957, is of the buildings associated with the home site in the loop at the left side of the model railroad. These appear to be scratch built. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Class J 604 with a passenger train crosses over Class A 1240. My estimate of the steam engines is that they are Model Die Casting/Roundhouse, Penn Line, or Varney kits, and either scratch built or heavily modified from these kit offerings. A plastic N&W J doesn’t appear in HO scale until Bachmann’s in 1987. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This drawing is for the modern (at least in the late 1950s) passenger station. Note at upper right someone has written “Name?” next to the “red letters on aluminum” designation on the station sign. It is not known what name was ultimately chosen for the passenger station. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This is N&W’s drawing for the coal tipple, aptly named “Some Pocahontas Coal Co.” (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This close-up view shows the Nottwhole Lumber Company, a Suydam Lumber Yard model from the early 1950s. In the yard is Class S-1a 0-8-0 205, while Class J 604 leads the passenger train. The N&W smooth side passenger cars are very likely American Beauty line. These were wood bodies with metal parts and rolled paperboard exterior. Though not in this view, the 2-bay coal hoppers seen in the overall layout photograph are very likely Ulrich metal kits that came out in the early to mid-1950s. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The control panel for the N&W’s model railroad consisted of three DC circuits, each of which controlled one of the three trains on the layout. This simple system allowed the operator to turn on the three trains and let them circle for hours at a time while the layout was on display. Simple toggle switches controlled the direction by reversing polarity. Each rheostat included a circuit breaker fuse right on the control panel, typical of DC layouts of the era. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This engineering drawing shows the electrical circuitry for the merchandise train and the coal train. It’s dated May 8, 1957. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This detailed drawing is for the freight station on the model railroad. For a short time some of the N&W’s draftsmen became model railroaders. (N&WHS Archives collection)
Norfolk and Western History 101 / The Norfolk & Western Railway Company at Age 20 - Alex Schust
  Drawing The first train was operated into City Point, Virginia, over the City Point Railroad on September 7, 1838. This drawing was made from blueprints and descriptions in the company files. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This stock certificate for the Iaeger & Southern Railway is No. 20 and is dated February 15, 1902. The stock represented by this certificate was owned by the Norfolk & Western Railway Company. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Map This map of the “Great Flat Top Coal Field” is dated August 3, 1880, and was drawn by Hotchkiss for Kimball in 1880, which probably in turn drove Kimball to look at the westward expansion into the coalfields. The red line down Wrights Valley became the Clinch Valley Line, and Nelson is where Pocahontas was located. The Flat-Top extension went down Elkhorn Creek. West Virginia & Ironton was formed to take N&W from Kyle on Elkhorn Creek to the Ohio River. The red lines are “experimental” railroad lines, and the one up New River north and west of the Greenbrier River became the Chesapeake & Ohio main line, which included a large yard at Hinton. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Map This nice colored map of the East River Railroad from 1881 covered just over 35 miles of the railroad from the mouth of the East River to Pocahontas. The grades are identified in feet per mile, thus a 36 feet per mile grade works out to 0.68 percent. The red triangles indicate curvature with the degrees of curvature identified inside each triangle. This portion shows the first three miles of the railroad. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Map This map shows the N&W reaching Pocahontas. The line up the Bluestone along Simmons Creek was known as the Flat-Top extension — it became known as the Bluestone Branch once the N&W built up Mill Creek and tunneled through Flat-Top Mountain to reach Elkhorn Creek. (N&WHS Archives collection)
Rails Remembered, Chapter 84 / The Debut of Alco RS-11s and a Bad Night at Matoaka - Louis M. Newton
  Photo This is a view of the same train pictured on the cover of this issue. It’s on the Elkhorn grade at Angle Junction, near MP N-379. Appalachian Power Company’s Switchback Substation is on the hill above the diesel units. (N&W photograph, Louis M. Newton collection)
  Photo N&W unit 322, pictured here, was one of 17 Alco RS-11s placed in service between March 27 and May 11, 1956. Originally intended for the Cincinnati District, they were diverted to the Pocahontas Division to help handle the heavy volume of eastbound coal traffic. (N&W photograph, Louis M. Newton collection)
  Map This map from the June 1957 issue of the N&W Magazine shows the proposed development of new lines in the Clinch Valley. By April 30, 1956, the first 3.5-mile segment of Dumps Creek Branch and the first 0.5-mile segment of Wilder Spur had been completed. The first coal was moved off the new lines on that date. (N&WHS Archives Collection)
  Map This map shows the detour route used by three N&W mainline passenger trains on the night of June 17, 1956. Nos. 26 and 16 were towed backwards from Bluefield via Bluestone Junction to Matoaka, then moved forward over the Virginian to the N&W connection at Norcross, and finally over the Potts Valley Connection back to the N&W main line. No. 3 took the same route in reverse to Bluestone Junction, with a shuttle train handling its passengers from and to Bluefield. (Louis M. Newton)
  Photo K-2a 135, pictured here at Columbus, Ohio, on August 24, 1954, was generally assigned to the Scioto Division in the mid-1950s. On the ill-fated night of June 17, 1956, however, its trailing truck derailed in a detour movement on the Bluestone Branch of the Pocahontas Division. (N&WHS Archives collection, Bob Hundman collection)
  Drawing The centering device spring rod on Class K-2 locomotives shown here was a part of a mechanism located within the frame of the trailing truck by which the truck was brought into line after the locomotive passed through a curve. The failure of the centering device resulted in the derailment of the truck on K-2a 135 near Matoaka. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo In this mid-1950s view of Matoaka, a Y-4 with a former Atlantic Coast Line tender is proceeding west with a mine shifter on N&W’s Bluestone Branch. MX Tower, the east end of double track on the Virginian, is out of sight at the lower right. The Virginian tracks curve to the left, cross over the N&W near the center of the picture, and extend out of sight to the N&W-Virginian connection track. (N&WHS Archives collection, Bob’s Photo)
  Map This map of the N&W-Virginian interchange track at Matoaka shows improvements proposed for it more than three years after the events of June 17–18, 1956. Apparently the plan was to make the grade more uniform, with a maximum of 1.59 percent. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo On June 19, 1956, The Roanoke Times reported on the “bad night at Matoaka” as shown here. Although some details were different from those recorded by the author as an eyewitness and participant in the events of the night, it is a generally accurate account. The “Widemouth Branch” mentioned in the article was actually the western portion of the Bluestone Branch, which followed the course of Widemouth Creek. (Louis M. Newton collection)
  Map This hand-drawn map shows the first four miles of the Bluestone Branch, part of the route of the detouring passenger trains on the night of June 17, 1956. The first mile or so of the branch was the original Pocahontas Division main line, thus accounting for the presence of MP N-375 just west of MP B-1. (Louis M. Newton)
  Photo This aerial view looking toward the northwest, made after both dieselization and the N&W-Virginian merger, shows the eastern end of the detour route in a remote area of the Radford Division along New River. Nos. 26 and 16 moved off the Virginian at Norcross on the right (north) side of the river, crossed the river on the curved truss bridge, and connected with the N&W main line at Potts Valley Junction, on the left (south) side of the river. No. 3 took the reverse route. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Bridge No. 2401, shown here, was at the eastern end of the detour route on the night of June 17, 1956. With a length of 572 feet, it connected Potts Valley Junction on the N&W side of New River (in the foreground) with the Virginian at Norcross on the opposite side. The photograph was made from the rear of N&W train No. 4 on the frosty morning of February 26, 1970. The bridge is still in use. (Louis M. Newton)
N&W/VGN Modeler / Modeling Blue Ridge in N-Scale - Frank Gibson
  Table Station Alignments
  Photo A short heave from Buford’s Gap after 8.5 miles at full throttle, pusher Class Y6 2135 on April 25, 1957, with coal consist is passing the station at Blue Ridge, Virginia. (Bob’s Photo, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo At Bonsack, four Y6 locomotives lead drag and reefer runs. For spacing constraints the water tower is not at the prototypical location, a half-mile further to the east. (Bill Kepner)
  Photo A loaded coal drag meets empties at the photographer’s bridge. Beyond the divider at upper right is the Thaxton loop. (Bill Kepner)
  Drawing This schematic, adapted from the November 1953 Roanoke–Crewe N&W track chart, locates selected layout features by reference numbers in red. The above and below locations in the curves profile line indicate prototypical layout locations on or off the westbound or eastbound main, respectively.
  Photo At Blue Ridge a coal drag is powered by two Y6 locomotives on the main line while a Y3 shifter works ballast loads in the yard. (Bill Kepner)
  Drawing Layout Diagram
  Photo The Powhatan Arrow is west of Bedford within view of landmark Peaks of Otter. (Bill Kepner)
  Photo A long manifest with 2157 leading a double-header passes the combination depot at Thaxton. (Bill Kepner)
President’s Report to the Stockholders / of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad Company - Ron Davis
  Table Receipts of the Road for the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1867
  Table Comparison of operations of the Road for the years 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867
  Table Receipts, Disbursements, and Cash Resources
  Table The debt of your Company, in 1860, when your present President took charge of the Road
  Table Treasurer's Statement
Vol. 30, No. 1 January / March 2014  Issue Select