Monthly Archives: November 2010

Page, WV

The unincorporated town of Page, in Fayette County, West Virginia was deeply involved in the early beginnings of what eventually became the Virginian Railway. Many books have documented the history and operation of the VGN including the first book written by H.Reid several years after the VGN was merged into the Norfolk and Western on December 1, 1959. There are other books on the VGN, several by Lloyd Lewis and one by Kurt Reisweber entitled “Virginian Rails”.  It chronicles the VGN just before and after the N&W acquisition and on to the merger of N&W and Southern Railway in 1982 that created what is today’s Norfolk Southern Railway.

Page was also an important part of my family’s life. My mother’s father worked as a conductor between Page and Deepwater. I have one of his (there were many more I’m sure) conductor’s log books that my mom’s sister donated to me to which I am so grateful. Train consists are in my grandfather’s writing and it documents the locomotives, cars and cabooses that were carried on his train. The particular book I have was in the period of July and August, 1927.

My grandfather died tragically in an accident in the yard at Page in May of 1933 after coming off one of his runs. That was about 15 years before I was born. My mother was 6 years old at the time of the accident. She was the third of four children. My grandfather was buried in Page Cemetery which was maintained by family members of the deceased. It is located on the hill above the Kincaid Cemetery on the east side of Loop Creek. My grandmother passed away about 20 years later and she is buried next to him along with other family members in the fenced in plot.

When I was a few years old I remember traveling to Page with my parents. We went there in the fall of each year after the leaves had all fallen from the trees to clean up our family plot. My mom’s first cousin also lived in Page right along the main line of the VGN. She would most often have dinner for us after we finished with the work. Usually a train would pass by the house during our visit and I would dash to the front porch to see it go by. I vaguely remember the yellow and black diesel locomotives of the VGN. From then on I looked forward to the fall of each year including a trip to Page.

For reasons unknown to me, there was a period of several years that we did not go to Page.  The next time we went there I noticed that unlike before not all of the coal hoppers in the yard were lettered VGN. There were N&W cars mixed in. We found out from mom’s cousin that the VGN had been taken over by the N&W. I was saddened to learn that this had happened without my knowing about it. I did read the newspapers some and watched the news but this sure caught me by surprise. From that point on I was determined to not let another railroad merger go by without knowing about it. To this day I have remained true to that pledge.

When I was old enough to drive on my own and with my parent’s permission to borrow their car for the day, I traveled to Page several different times in the late 1960’s to photograph around the area of Page. By this time all former VGN locomotives had been painted in N&W colors and even locomotives used strictly on the N&W before the merger began showing up, as noted on my Deepwater post. The only positive thing was that eight or nine years later, the right-of-way with its telephone lines and searchlight style signals along with dwarf signals still looked very Virginian, plus there were a number of VGN hoppers around that had not been re lettered by the N&W.

Time Freights 71 and 72 made their daily trips on what N&W called the Deepwater District (later the Princeton-Deepwater District) through Page. From what I recall, Time Freight 71 came through during the night. When these trains were cut off sometime during 1968, the frequency of trains on the old VGN dropped to the point that the line between Mullens and Deepwater handled two or maybe three trains a week. This part of the old VGN main including the branch to Oak Hill became more of a long switching move between the two points. The N&W was trying to either abandon the line or take it out of service from just north of Mullens to Deepwater.

The breakup of Conrail between NS and CSX in 1998 saved this part of the old VGN through Page. One part of Conrail that NS acquired was the New York Central line from Columbus, OH. This line followed the Kanawha River through West Virginia to Deepwater and Gauley Bridge to mines located beyond Gauley Bridge. To handle coal movements from Deepwater to Roanoke, the old VGN line was upgraded with welded rail, ties and ballast. Coal that would normally have gone to Columbus could now be handled on a more direct route.

I am thankful to have pictures around Page and I hope you will enjoy them. As the saying goes, “Virginian Railway – Gone but not forgotten.”

Eastbound train led by a trio of ex-VGN
Fairbanks-Morse locomotives heading into
Page in March of 1968. The lead unit is ex-
VGN 53. N&W added  “1” ahead of all F-M
units. It was quite a sight to see.



View looking west at the former VGN passenger
station at Page taken in April, 1967. This  un-
fortunately is the only picture I took of this
structure.



A year later in April, 1968 this metal building
housing the yard office has replaced the old
depot which was torn down. The metal building
met a similar fate some years later.

View of Page looking westbound toward Deepwater.
My mom’s cousin’s house was on the right beyond
the big white structure. This photo is on display in
the new Page Baptist Church lobby placed there by
a childhood friend of my mother. The old church
building was destroyed by fire sometime after
this photo was made.

View of Kincaid from the same point as on
the previous photo looking eastbound. Dwarf
signals are in the background and if you look
closely you can see the back of the searchlight
signal on the left side of the track. Both photos
were taken in April, 1967.

View of Page from Cemetery Road.



View of Kincaid from Cemetery Road. If you
look closely you can make out what probably
is Train 72 heading eastbound.

Deepwater, WV

Deepwater was a fascinating place to photograph trains. Three different railroads met in this small Kanawha Valley community approximately 32 miles east of Charleston. The main line of the C&O and a branch of the New York Central paralleled the Kanawha River on each side in this area while the former Virginian main line from Norfolk, VA crossed over the C&O and joined the NYC on the other side of the Kanawha from Deepwater. This became the western end of the VGN after 1931 when the bridge over the Kanawha was built.

The VGN had trackage rights from Deepwater Bridge (DB) Tower over the NYC to Dickinson Yard which is located approximately 15 miles east of Charleston. These trackage rights existed in the days of VGN passenger service when trains ran to Charleston. However it was cut back to Dickinson Yard when passenger service ended in the 1950’s.

When I became old enough to go out on my own to photograph trains, the VGN had been merged into the Norfolk and Western about 8 years previously. The N&W continued operating Time Freights 71 and 72 between Dickinson Yard and DB Tower but they were on borrowed time. Also the New York Central was in its last days before being merged with the Pennsylvania RR to form the ill-fated Penn Central Transportation Co. The C&O was the only railroad that was pretty much unchanged even though it had acquired control of the B&O in 1963.

All photos on this post are scanned images from 35 mm slides which I have in my possession. You may wish to check this post from time to time as I may add more photos.

DB Tower. NYC main line is to the left. Track
next to building leads to the former VGN mainline.
VGN trackage began at the search light signal in
background. The bridge over the Kanawha River
begins just beyond the signal. All track is now
owned by Norfolk Southern Ry.



N&W Time Freight 72 chugging through
crossover from the NYC to the lead track to
the bridge over the Kanawha River. The lead
track to the left went to the Union Carbide
Metals plant located at Alloy about 0.5 miles
from this point.



Train 72 lead by Alco C628 #1122 heading
across the Kanawha River and eventually
over the C&O on the opposite side of the river.


Rear of Train 72 with caboose 530322 ex-
VGN 322. This is a rare sight now days.


Rear of Train 72. The Kanawha River at this
point is unnavigable for barge traffic. The
beginning point for navigation is approximately
a few hundred feet downstream to the right of the
picture.



East end of the Kanawha River bridge with
the C&O running underneath. View is looking
West toward Charleston.  The Virginian name
is still highly visible 8 years after the merger
of the VGN into the N&W.

Eastbound C&O coal drag headed by GP-9
6252 and 4 sister geeps. The sound of these
5 locomotives was quite awesome.

St Route 61 underpass looking west toward
Charleston. This is a separate structure from
the Kanawha River crossing. There is about
80 ft of fill between both bridges. Deepwater
Tunnel is to the left out of the picture.

Winter Photos at Kenova, WV

Since we are coming up to the winter of 2010 as I post this, I wanted to share a few photos taken around 1968 at Kenova, WV. At Kenova the former Scioto Division of the Norfolk and Western crossed above the mainline of the Chesapeake and Ohio. This was a great place to photograph both roads.

At that time Kenova was a stop for the N&W’s Powhatan Arrow and The Pocahontas passenger trains. Because of that a wooden platform at bridge level existed on both sides of the approach structure to the Ohio River bridge. The station was located on the geographic west side of the bridge. The platform also extended across the C&O main line to provide access for the operators working at KX Tower. That part of the walkway made it nice to photograph trains on the C&O. I will upload my only two C&O pictures taken here on another post. If you look at Bing.com/maps Bird’s Eye view, trees are located where the depot once stood.

GP-18 #842 light move has just crossed the
Ohio River Bridge and is heading to the yard.


N&W Eastbound Freight headed by SD-45
#1758. The upper part of the Kenova Station
is visible along with the walkways. The hills
of southern Ohio loom in the background.

N&W  Westbound Time Freight crossing
bridge over Maple St & State Route 75 on its
way across the C&O and the Ohio River Bridge.