From the last years when steam was king on the king of steam railroads. This program is a real variety pack! The first segment is 1953 footage where we see 4-8-4 J class number 609 arrive in Lynchburg. We ride it toward the west with several scenes shot out the rear of the Powhatan Arrow. This and the Virginian footage is from color 8mm film. We see the Virginian in the last year or so of steam passenger operations, by this time down to Roanoke to Norfolk with class 200 series 4-6-2’s. We ride a train to Altavista from Roanoke and back.
Virginian footage is rare and this must be some of last film shot as the Virginian was merged into the N&W shortly after this footage was shot. The next segment is 16mm black and white that looks to be something shot by the railroad, or for the railroad. We begin with engine 612 at Roanoke near the roundhouse, then we’re riding the train west to Bluefield. This is all shot off the rear of an observation business car of the Powhatan Arrow. Some N&W officials are seen at Bluefield. Some of the footage was speeded-up by the cameraman, as he must have been bored, but has been slowed it down (it’s not perfect but it’s better than wild fast). We pass several trains along the way including an M class 4-8-0 on a train at Christiansburg. The final segment of the video is a June 1958 visit to N&W steam country by Perry Becker. This lovely 16mm color footage has lots of meat and potatoes with passenger trains in steam (the last month steam ran on the passenger trains before leased diesels were used), and freight action.
We also visit Shafers Crossing Roundhouse and engine facility where we see all sorts of stuff, including a 2-8-8-2 working the hump. Then it’s on to Blue Ridge Grade where we see a lot of action around Bonsack, on the west slope of Blue Ridge Grade. We see helpers running light and working as rear pushers. The final shot is a 3-engine train with a Y on the front of a class A (1200), and another Y pushing this coal train. We’ll see 2-3 J class engines as well.