August 2009 Article

This Month's Article - August 2009
July was my month to go home to Virginia and I was able to visit the last remaining Nelson & Albemarle steam locomotive (albeit static in a lumber yard and missing it's saddle tank).  See photos (to be uploaded by 23 August) of this 0-4-0T via the sidebar link, Image Repository.  My plans were to attend a family reunion in Virginia, visit the C&O Heritage Center in Clifton Forge and spend some time at the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke, before heading off to Myrtle Beach and then to western South Carolina to visit our oldest daughter and her husband before heading back to Chicago.  My brother, Gary was host in Waynesboro for a full week's work of 'railroad' stuff to do.  Our first foray out was a trip to visit the C&O Heritage Center in Clifton Forge.  There are 2 parts to the C&O Historical Society's presence there and while the Heritage Center is the place to visit, the Historical Society's downtown building across from the C&O shop is where people go for research.  Key to this visit was meeting with Rick Tabb to discuss how we might link this web page to the C&O Historical Society's web page as the Nelson & Albemarle, in it's confusing history, did have a part of it's existence start off as the C&O Alberene branchline off of their James River line at Warren.  With much good fortune, I was able to contact Will Harris of North Fork Lumber via his cellphone and arranged for permission to visit the North Fork Lumber company location in Goshen, Virginia where the 0-4-0T is stored (this is a must for any visit so see contact information below).  Will gave me great directions from Waynesboro, but if you're in Virginia, there's an exit off of the western extension of I-64 that brings you up the back way into Goshen.  Coming in that way, If you see the lumbar yard with creasote-covered railroad ties on your right, turn right and go about 1/3 mile and on your right will be a driveway to the North Fork Lumber.  If you come in by going south out of the town of Goshen, stay on that road just past the railroad ties and keep an eye out for the driveway as it's easy to miss and the sign is relatively small.  Be sure to check in at the office (on the 2nd floor) and enjoy the railroad themed digs that Will has there.  I spent a lot of time looking at this small 0-4-0T and photographing it in great detail.  I also recommend long pants and boots as this is storage and not display.  It would be nice to find a replacement saddle water tank for this engine and restore it to some form of presentation level so that how this locomotive looked during actual use could be seen.  All the brackets that supported the saddle tank remain, and while I would never expect a full restoration, putting it back into reasonable shape would be nice.  It was nice to squint my eyes and imagine this engine pulling flat cars of soapstone around the Schuyler mill.  In keeping this steam engine from the scrapyard, Will's done a great service.  Last on my 'railroad' theme trip was travel to the Virginia Transportation Museum.  I've been to Roanoke before, but not since the museum had placed the N&W 1218 Class A on display.  The last time seen, she was very much alive on an early, foggy Saturday morning in South Richmond.  I was with good friends, Al & Ann Capehart then and while both are no longer with us, their love for trains and history was brought to mind when I arrived in Roanoke and saw the Class A next to the Class J (that I last saw in Charlottesville with my hand on the throttle during a photo run-by).  I miss those old days of being near live steam.  Finding a steam engine in Roanoke was easy, but learning of the impending rescue of the well-publicized 'lost' N&W engines from a local junkyard was big news at the museum.  It turns out Will Harris of North Fork Lumber is also managing the rescue and movement of these engines to various sites.  Cudos to Will a second time.  Our time in Richmond was very short and my wife and I left very quickly (in a very tightly packed Thunderbird) to spend some time in Myrtle Beach before heading to see the youngun's and head home.  We missed seeing many old and some new friends but will plan another trip to the area soon.  Having traveled to Virginia and visited Roanoke where there are 'lost' N&W engines about to be recovered from the junk yard and distributed to various rail museums and sites around Virginia, it was great to have contact with someone supporting that effort amidst his own good fortune to be the owner of not only a 'shay' but also, the last living steam locomotive that ran on Nelson & Albemarle rails. 
Contact Information
Will Harris, President
North Fork Lumber
250 N. Fork Lane
Goshen, Virginia 24439
Phone 540-997-5602
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