Continuing with our exploration of Virginia’s Museum of Transportation in Roanoke Virginia… It was on to the rail yard!
There is a small playground and picnic area off to one side of the rail yard portion of the museum. It’s right next to the Norfolk Southern tracks. This old trolley car sits open for children to explore but I think that it just looks sad and neglected…
Since I didn’t see a sign describing the trolley, I decided to find out where it came from. So I looked up the Glen Echo Amusement Park. Glen Echo Maryland is located right next to Washington D.C. The area was developed as a National Chautauqua Assembly in 1891 and in the early 20th Century it became the Glen Echo Amusement Park. The park finally closed in 1968, but not before it had its moment in American history.
Like many public facilities in and around the Washington area, Glen Echo was restricted to whites for 63 out of the first 70 years of its history. Then, in June of 1960, a group of college students staged a sit-in protest on the carousel. Five African American students were arrested for trespassing.
The arrests were appealed to the Supreme Court and on the grounds that the state had unconstitutionally used its police power to help a private business enforce its racial discrimination policy, the convictions were reversed. (Griffin v. Maryland) As a result, an 11 week civil rights campaign began. The park opened the doors to all races in the 1961 season.
Several classic locomotives and a quantity of rolling stock are sheltered under this long covered ‘train shed’ with the old Norfolk and Western freight depot on the left. I imagined this scene on ‘live’ tracks with passengers, steam and all of the noise that would accompany the vision!
Norfolk and Western Y6a #2156 was built in the Roanoke Shops in March of 1942. The railroad began converting to diesel-powered locomotives in the late 1950s and the Y6a 2156 was retired from service in 1959. It is the only remaining locomotive of the Y5, Y6, Y6a, and Y6b classes. It’s been cosmetically restored but it is no longer operational. I was interested to learn that this locomotive is on loan from the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis County Missouri. (Just how do you ‘loan’ something this size!
Only 16 Model Y6a 2-8-8-2 Locomotives were built. It weighs 582,900 lbs. (291 tons!), developed 5,600 horsepower and could roll along at 50 mph. The compound articulated (Mallet) design allowed these large locomotives to be used on track with tighter curves by splitting the driving wheels into two sets which can turn independently. When diesel locomotives took over mainline steam operations, the Y6-type locomotives spent their last years primarily on mine and coalfield runs.
Just to better show the massive size of the Norfolk and Western Y6a #2156 locomotive, I asked Laurie to pose next to the drive wheels. This ‘beast’ is huge and I can just imagine it charging on down the tracks pulling a big coal train!
This electric locomotive from the Pennsylvania Railroad (GE GG-1 #4919) is undergoing restoration. It had been completely painted at the time of our visit with no identifying marks or signage. Locomotive #4919 was manufactured in 1942. It ran almost 5,500,000 miles for the Pennsylvania Railroad and later AMTRAK before it was finally retired on February 1, 1981.
A total of 139 of these locomotives were built by the Pennsylvania Railroad Altoona Works. All were initially delivered to the Pennsylvania Railroad. For those not familiar with electric locomotives, they are powered by electric current provided from overhead wires. Designed for bi-directional operation, they were mainly used for passenger trains. As a locomotive for passenger trains, they could reach speeds of 100 – 110 mph!
This is Diesel Locomotive Wabash #1009. It was built for passenger service on the Wabash Railroad. Between 1949 and 1954, the Electro-Motive Diesel Division of General Motors built 450 of these E8A units. This was the 10,000th diesel locomotive built by EMD. Locomotive #1009 was retired from service in June 1967.
This locomotive has been referred to as a “bluebird” due to its distinctive pain scheme. Locomotive #1009 pulled the Wabash Cannonball, City of St. Louis, City of Kansas City, as well as other Wabash passenger trains. Its top speed was 98 mph! Wabash Railroad was leased to Norfolk and Western Railway in October 1964 and was officially merged with Norfolk Southern in 1991.
This is Norfolk and Western Class A Steam Locomotive #1218. It was manufactured by Norfolk and Western Railroad it began service on June 2, 1943. Locomotive #1218 was built in just over 2 weeks, a record for the Norfolk and Western Shops. (Cost = $163,872 or $2,250,000 in 2015 dollars) The #1218 is the last remaining Class A locomotive…
Locomotive #1218 pulled coal trains between Roanoke and Norfolk (252 miles). She was retired in 1959 but she’s been around since then. First she was sold Union Carbide at Charleston W. Va. to serve as an oil-fired stationary boiler. Then in 1963, she was sold to Nelson Blount and moved to Bellows Falls Vermont to be displayed at Blount's Steamtown exhibit. Then in 1969, it was obtained for the Museum and moved to Roanoke and given a cosmetic overhaul before being put on display. In 1985, she was Birmingham Alabama for restoration and use with an excursion service railroad. She was finally retired from excursion service in 1994.
I’d never seen one of these cars before… This is a Dynamometer Car, Norfolk and Western’s #514780. Dynamometer cars carried equipment for measuring and recording drawbar pull, brake pipe pressure, and other data connected with locomotive operations and train haul conditions. It was a very useful tool for locomotive design as calculations on the drawing board could be verified in road service. Roadbed conditions, stations and topographical information were recorded by an operator stationed in a cupola. Information was recorded on a moving paper chart in ink.
This old wooden caboose is a Norfolk and Western Class CF #518302. It was built by the Norfolk and Western Shops… I never realized how much rolling stock and locomotives alike were built by the railroads themselves! This specific caboose was built in 1922.
Between 1914 and 1924 381 of this model caboose were built by Norfolk and Western. They were constructed with wood sheathing and wood roofs with steel under frames. They were equipped with a cast iron coal stove for heat and oil lamps for lighting. They also were furnished with a refrigerator, radio and toilet.
This is diesel locomotive Chesapeake Western Baldwin DS-4-4-660 #662. It may not look all that old, but this 662 was built by Baldwin in Eddystone PA back in 1946! The engine was one of three diesel-electrics that were placed in service on December 2, 1946. These 3 first-generation diesel locomotives completely transitioned the Chesapeake Western from steam to diesel power.
The 3 Baldwin DS 4-4-660 locomotives were retired in 1964 and 2 of them wound up in the Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Co. scrap yard in Roanoke VA where they endured a number of floods and sat rusting for over 40 years. They were donated to the museum by Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Co. and the resulting restoration from rusty hulk to shiny locomotive is truly amazing!
The Chesapeake Western Railroad can be traced back to its origins in 1871. Known by locals as the “Crooked and Weedy,” the Chesapeake Western has also been called the “General Robert E. Lee’s Railroad.” After the Civil War, Lee was convinced of the economic necessity of a rail line connecting the Shenandoah Valley with the port of Baltimore. He became the first president of the Valley Railroad of Virginia which was merged into the Chesapeake Western in 1942.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them. One more posting about the locomotives and rolling stock at the Virginia Museum of Transportation will follow soon…
Thanks for stopping by for a tour!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave