Vol. 30, No. 4 October / December 2014  Issue Select 
Issue Details
Cover Title: The Electric VGN part 4
Cover Subtitle: Back to Boaz, Rails Remembered, The Electric Virginian
On the Cover: Seven-month-old EL-C 133 leads an eastbound loaded coal train at Princeton, West Virginia, on May 20, 1957. The Virginian ordered 12 rectifier-type locomotives from General Electric in June 1955, and they were delivered between October 1956 and February 1957. The units were the first rectifier-electrics designed specifically for freight service (passenger versions had been bought by the New Haven) and were rated at 3,300 horsepower. They rode on Adirondack Foundry drop-equalized six-motor trimount trucks with GE 752 traction motors and were numbered 130–141. All but one (a slug sold for parts) of the 12 were ultimately sold to the New Haven and numbered 300–310.
Articles In This Issue
Norfolk & Western History 101 / Back to Boaz - Bruce B. Harper
  Map This map shows where Vinton Station and Boaz were located. (U.S. Geological Survey)
  Chart This track chart shows the siding off the eastbound main and the crossover from the westbound to eastbound track.  (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Class J 603 roars past Boaz, Virginia, in this undated view from under the willow tree that O. Winston Link made famous for his photograph of a helper crew sitting under its boughs.  (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo A crewman is ready to line the switch at Boaz for Y6 2124 in this view from the late 1950s. This is undoubtedly a pusher either returning from a shove or getting ready to assist a train. Boaz (pronounced “Bows”), at the bottom of the Blue Ridge grade, was a location that showcased N&W steam in its heyday. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Motion blur on the left side of this photograph indicates that Y6a 2168 is pushing hard on Class CF caboose 518296 at Boaz in this undated view from the mid1950s. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This 1937 aerial view of the area shows how far out in the country the siding was located. Berkley Road crosses the tracks near the middle of the photo and the siding is to the east (right) just beyond the edge of the field of haystacks. (USDA)
  Photo This 1953 aerial view shows development hadn’t spread much toward Boaz. Berkley Road crosses the tracks in the middle of the image and the siding is to the east (right) close to where the white open field meets the small square dark field. (USDA)
  Photo Y6b 2192 is pushing on Class C2 caboose 518440 at Boaz in this undated view from the mid- to late-1950s — the stencil on the hopper car is from October 1955. (N&WHS Archives collection)
Rails Remembered, chapter 87 / A Trip on the Buchanan Branch - Louis M. Newton
  Photo Six Mallets are visible in this view of the locomotive servicing facilities at Weller Yard on March 26, 1959. This view also provides an unusual overhead look at a Y-6 in the right foreground, showing the pipe extending from the steam dome to the turret and bisecting the twin rear sand domes, as well as the location, from left to right, of the dynamo, bell and low water alarm.  (Bruce Meyer collection, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Timetable The Pocahontas Division Time Table for the Buchanan Branch shows the schedules of daily-except-Sunday mixed train Nos. 311 and 312, nicknamed The Tri-State Limited, or more informally as The Hoot Owl. (Louis M. Newton collection)
  Chart Profile of the ruling grades from the N&W track chart, revised December 1, 1949, on the Buchanan Branch from MP D-11 near Hurley over the summit at Raitt Tunnel to MP D-26 near Thomas Wye. Mile posts are measured from Buchanan Branch Junction and are not the same as time table mileages from Devon Station. (Louis M. Newton collection)
  Map This map of facilities at Weller Yard is dated December 31, 1931, and was revised to October 1, 1933. Some other minor revisions were made in later years. Thomas Wye is off the map to the left. Locomotive servicing facilities are at extreme right. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Chart This chart shows the Buchanan Branch tonnage ratings, from Pocahontas Division Time Table No. 10, effective April 29, 1956. Empty trains exceeding 2,450 tons (about 98 cars) handled by a Y-5 or Y-6 required a pusher from Hurley to Raitt. A typical loaded train that could be handled from Thomas to Raitt by one Y-5 or Y-6 and two Y-3 pushers was 7,200 tons, or about 80 cars. (Louis M. Newton collection)
  Photo Steam returned briefly to Buchanan Branch in 2014 as part of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program. In the left photo, the westbound excursion train crosses Knox Creek near MP D-1 at Woodman, Kentucky. In the lower left photo taken on April 12, former Southern Railway Class Ks-1 Consolidation 630 passes Weller Yard, Virginia, with an excursion train en route from Grundy to Devon, West Virginia. After turning on the wye at Devon the train continues its journey back to Grundy as it exits Lower Elk (Devon) Tunnel at Woodman, Kentucky. The high vertical clearance of the tunnel, bored about 1930, was to provide for possible future electrification, which never occurred. (Everett Young, three photos)
  Photo Class K-2a 129 is shown here handling Train No. 1 crossing the James River at Natural Bridge Station on the Shenandoah Division on May 26, 1956. The James River Subdivision of the Chesapeake & Ohio is on the bank of the river under the through-truss span of the bridge. Less than nine months later, on February 20, 1957, the 129 would make the last steam passenger run on the Shenandoah Division as it handled No. 1 from Hagerstown to Roanoke. (August Thieme collection, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Locomotive 14 of the Virginia Coal & Coke Co., shown here at Dorchester, Virginia, on September 20, 1957, was formerly N&W Class M-2 1148. Built by Baldwin in 1910, after its final years working on the Waynesboro switcher it was sold by the N&W to the VC&C when the Shenandoah Division was dieselized in February 1957. (Tom Dressler collection, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The March 1957 issue of the Norfolk and Western Magazine contained a feature article on the operation of high priority time freight trains Nos. 77 and 78. The article’s opening spread included a picture of Class A 1210 at top right ready to leave Portsmouth for Petersburg on a dreary day in February, and at bottom right RS-11 unit 315 switches cars out of inbound No. 77 at Clare Yard. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo In the second spread, at bottom left, two diesel units deliver cars to the New York Central in the Cincinnati area. At bottom right an RS-3 and two other Alco units are ready to leave Clare with No. 78. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo N&W 34001, pictured here on February 18, 1957, was the second of 5,500 new H-10 70-ton hopper cars scheduled to be built at Roanoke Shops new Freight Car Shop. (N&W photograph, N&WHS Archives collection)
The Electric Virginian / Part 4, New EL-C Electric Locomotives - Kevin EuDaly
  Photo The 12 EL-C electric locomotives arrived on the Virginian numbered 130–141, but after the N&W merger were renumbered to 230–241. In this view photographed on June 1, 1962, three former Virginian units are now renumbered and working for the N&W. Ultimately, 230 was converted to a slug and 231–241 were sold to the New Haven, becoming 300–310, after which they were inherited by Penn Central, renumbered in the 4600s, and then went to Conrail, where they operated into the early 1980s. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This dramatic engineer’s view down the side of at least two EL-C locomotives includes a coal dust storm as this train of loads rolls down Virginian’s main line. The fellows in the caboose will have an entirely different view — at least until the loose, fine coal dust is off the loads. The roof extensions visible at the top of this photo prevented crew members from reaching the high-voltage pantograph base area. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo EL-Cs 130 and 131 are parked in Princeton, West Virginia, in May 1957 with pantographs latched down — the pantographs were spring-raised or air-lowered. The pair of EL-Cs will eventually move this train of coal to Norfolk, where the electrification comes to an end. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The 132 was in charge of a special on September 1 during the 1957 National Railway Historical Society convention in Roanoke. (John Dziobko photo)
  Photo Westbound EL-2B 128 is reflected on the shiny side of an EL-C hauling loads in this fireman’s view of a meet at Shelby, Virginia, with both trains moving.  (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Drawing This drawing dated December 12, 1956, gives the characteristics of the EL-C locomotives. In General Electric’s nomenclature these were E33 locomotives (Electric locomotive, 3300 horsepower). They weighed in at 199 tons and developed a starting tractive effort of 99,420 pounds and a continuous tractive effort at 15.75 mph of 79,500 pounds. (Library of Virginia, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The Virginian had purchased Fairbanks-Morse Train Master diesels that arrived in 1954, and had several orders of smaller H-16-44s, all of which were set up with the long hood being the front of the locomotive. The ELCs, though built much like the diesel road switchers in design, were set up with the short hood as the front — the small “F” on the yellow frame stripe is clearly evident in this view of the 136 at Roanoke, Virginia, in August 1959. (Jack Swanberg photo)
  Photo Though the Virginian was predominantly a coal-hauler, there was manifest. EL-Cs 132 and 133 power a westbound mixed freight in this photograph taken from the west end of the Glen Lyn bridge over New River. (Mullens Railroad Museum, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This two-page advertisement appeared in the December 3, 1956, issue of Railway Age. EL-C 130, shown at the left side of this ad, was the first of the EL-Cs built for the Virginian. In this photograph it is just out of the paint shop at GE, and the yellow foot boards are still masked off. In the photo at lower right the brand new unit has yet to have the yellow striping, heralds, and lettering applied. (courtesy Simmons-Boardman publishing)
  Photo A relatively scarce cab interior photograph shows an unidentified crewman enjoying the day aboard an EL-C in this view from the late 1950s. (Mullens Railroad Museum, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Engineer Ken Womack has his hand on the throttle of an EL-C in this view from the late 1950s. (Mullens Railroad Museum, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo This undated three-photo sequence in the late 1950s begins above with Extra 131 West behind EL-Cs 131 and 130 parked at Roanoke, Virginia, on eastbound empties. In the second photo, Extra 44 West powered by two F-M H-16-44s, also on empties, rolls up to the 131. In the third photograph the photographer has stepped over and now has Extra 44 West to his left as Extra 136 West pulls past the 131, with dust flying. (Milwaukee Road Historical Association, N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo Not long after the previous sequence was photographed, Extra 131 West took its turn and departs Roanoke with empties in tow. (Milwaukee Road Historical Association, N&WHS Archives collection)
The Electric Virginian / Wrecks Involving Electrics - Kevin EuDaly
  Photo This wreckage is the result of a spring switch malfunction at Kumis on March 13, 1941. Of the six wrecks involving Virginian electrics, one was dispatcher error, two were crew failure to obey a meet order, two were equipment malfunction (failure of a spring switch and a low coupler on a bent frame), and one was excessive speed within yard limits (by both crews involved). Nearly every incident had circumstances that played into the problem. In the wreck at Rock, a shift change and new dispatcher sheets were claimed as contributors. In the second wreck near Ingleside, various inspections and a shim under the coupler that fell out were contributors. In the wreck at Roanoke, the accident occurred on a relatively blind curve. Both of the wrecks involving meet orders appear to simply be crew members not following meet orders adequately, but it was often exaggerated by at least one crewman not being present when the orders were received. (J.R. Reie photo, Earl Finger collection)
End of an Era / (VGN Electrics) - Kevin EuDaly
  Photo Only one of the EL-Cs is known to have been painted into N&W blue. All the Virginian electric locomotives survived to the N&W merger in December 1959, though not all were active. The electric operations continued under N&W ownership until the end of June 1962, when the power was shut off for good. In July 1962 N&W EL-C 230 was converted into slug 180. The rest of the EL-C locomotives were sold to the New Haven in 1963, and the 180 was included as a spare parts unit. The 235 rests with its pantographs down at South Roanoke, Virginia, in April 1961. (N&WHS Archives collection)
  Photo The ex-Virginian EL-Cs sit on the New Haven with heralds, lettering, and numbers painted out. They sit at New Haven, Connecticut, far from their former haunts between Roanoke and Mullens. The date is August 9, 1963. In short order they’ll be renumbered 300–310 and repainted into New Haven’s red and black with white stripes. They were still in service when the New Haven was absorbed into Penn Central, an event that sped up Penn Central’s bankruptcy. They worked for Conrail into the early 1980s. (Jack Swanberg photo)
Vol. 30, No. 4 October / December 2014  Issue Select