September 2010 Article

September 2010 Article
This Month's Article - September 2010 
More Publications that featured the N&A Railway
The last 20 years of publications that you should know about!
Last month we covered the earliest exposure of the Nelson & Albemarle Railway in the feature film of 1941, "Virginia", up through the Garth Groff published, "Soapstone Shortlines: Alberene Stone and Its Railroads".  Taking a brief step backward, I'd like to make sure I mention one of those publications that only briefly mentions the N&A, but has great detail both for the modeler as well as the historian.  In 1990 The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc. published it's bulletin Volume 162, Spring 1990, "Railroad History 162" which included the story of the Manhattan Railway and while #56 or #60 which became N&A's #6 and #5 are not shown, #54 sister engine is well described in the article, "Spunky Little Devils:  Locomotives of the New York Elevated" by John H. White, Jr.  This was a comprehensive, detailed look at ALL of the locomotives that would eventually make for a great resale marketplace of used locomotives for small shortline railroads.  $$  So we pick up next about a year after Garth's Soapstone Shortlines has been published by his Drop Leaf Press.  In 1991, the C&O Historical Society put's out it's Cheasapeake & Ohio Historical Magazine, Volume XXIV, Number 4 in April 1992.  The cover story is "Nelson & Albemarle: Early Days on a Soapstone Shortline"  Now from the viewpoint of a feeder system to the C&O, the story progresses from the early beginnings as a branch of the C&O to the ending in 1963 with abandonment.  Here the value is again for the modeler as there are good diagrams of the trackage at both Warren and Esmont.  This writing includes only 1 of 2 photographs found of the station at Rockfish and also has the feeling of intimacy that only Garth obtains when telling the stories of the crews interaction with the C&O agent at Warren.  If there is one thing that anyone reading about the N&A should know is that the research that went into and and all of Garth's works was detailed and complete. $$ Now modeling is a large part of the interest in the N&A as a shortline and in August of 1993, Railroad Model Craftsman stepped up to the plate with a great article, "Inspiration for a Kitbash: A Tank Engine Gallery" which included a photo from the National Archives of SI&E #1599, the 1887 ex-City of Richmond Porter 0-4-0T tank engine that had been Nelson & Albemarle Ry. #1 and shown in the photo as rebuilt in 1920 before sale to Pierce-Williams Co. in Arkansas. This issue of RMC also contains an article on kitbashing in G gauge with Bachmann and Lehmann 0-4-0T's (page 50) whcih is also interesting reading for the modeler of tank engines.  $$  It's no surprise that two years later in 1995, "Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette" publishes Ed Gebhardt's scale drawings of the Nelson & Albemarle #9, A Standard Gauge Vulcan 2-6-2ST in their November/December 1995 issue.  Ed based his drawings on the Vulcan Locomotive Works Catalog #33, Industrial and Contractors' Locomotives with specifics based on the heaviest of 4 models which coincides with the one purchased for the N&A to use.  This was the first scale drawings bring value to the modeler with a real value as previously there was nothing available commercially for a Vulcan tank locomotive that came anywhere near to what ran on the N&A.  $$  Next we move to Turntable Times, the online publication from the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.  Now, being the Roanoke Chapter of the NRHS is impressive with the N&W and Virginian right in your backyard as well as the great railroad museum there.  In the August 1998 issue of Turntable Times, Volume XXX, Number 8, Blue Ridge Chapter member Butch Tweedy writes "The Nelson and Albemarle Railway, (and its tributaries)".  It's taken from the Blue Ridge Chapter, NRHS newsletter of Lynchburg, Virginia which is really close to Roanoke.  He writes of how he'd researched the Virginia Blue Ridge and then proceeds with the story of how soapstone opened industries in the region and expanded to the shortline railroad as a means to move materials and people between factory locations.  It is a rather complete though short tale of the N&A and is unfortunate in not including any photos.  It bears mentioning because if shows the interest in the shortline by railroad enthusiasts some 35 years after it's demise.  $$  Another two years passes and in 2000, Louis D. Rubin, Jr. (who rode on the last passenger run of the N&A in 1951) writes "A Memory of Trains: The Boll Weevil and Others".  I personally like the book for the descriptive nature of the passenger service and operations however it leaves off the topic before discussing other engines or operations around the quarry or mill.  I'm wondering at this point if those places were deemed off-limits to photographs and visitors for insurance reasons, but may never know that answer.  $$  Quickly thereafter, Eugene Huddleston comes out with his book, "Appalachian Conquest: C&O, N&W, Virginian, and Clinchfield Cross the Mountains" which includes some detail on the N&A as a satellite road.  Notable here is the inclusion of a previously unpublished Charles Clegg photograph from the 1948 visit with Lucius Beebe that led up to the release of "Mixed Train Daily".  It gives the feel for general operations and tells the story behind the Esmont station's loss of a hollywood movie role, but doesn't have the facts about how #9 with an N&A boxcar and C&O combine in tow made the treck down the line to Warren and thence westward to "Fairville", the renamed Howardsville station.  $$  Finally though, Mallory Hope Ferrell takes the N&A and provides a more interesting view in his 2005 publishing of "Slow Trains Down South ...Daily 'cept Sunday - Volume 1" This is the last traditionally published book on the N&A to date and Chapter 4: Virginia Creepers (the Old Dominion) starting on page 110 covers the N&A very well on pages 118 to 123 with 10 photos.  If you don't have this book already, it's a nice one to have as it features views of the N&A not too normally seen including switching in Esmont and a nice sketch of N&A engineer, John Mayo.  While short on writing the photographs are tremendous and come from two well-known photographers, H. Reid and August Thieme (who passed away in May 2010).   $$   In 2008, one year before this website for the N&A Historical Society was created, Kierk Ashmore-Sorensen went to and published a photo book called, "Alberene Soapstone: a history in photographs". Suddenly a new source of photos taken to highlight the soapstone works was available to anyone interested.  28 photos and a one-page short history provide for an interesting view of the soapstone operations both inside the mill and outside.  It includes one photo of a Plymouth Model DLC beside the quarries at Schuyler and other photos including the mill with locomotive under steam sitting on the tracks.  Kierk had taken ownership of the property at Schuyler and had found the photographs in an old safe.  It provided for a unique perspective on the soapstone works from the view of promoting it's products.  From a modeler's perspective, there are opportunities to model in each of the photographs and depending on your level of detail desired, some of the interior photographs provide an important view on life in the early 1900's.  $$  It's 2010 now and our website has been up and running for a little more than a year trying to provide a central resource for where to find publications, photographs, film, and modeling tips for the N&A Railway and while we haven't published anything more than some monthly writings about the N&A, we continue to search for the history and background that will help those interested in the N&A enjoy it's shortline flavor and look forward to each month's article providing some more about the rail line for your pleasure.  Enjoy!
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