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Former Employees of the VIRGINIAN RAILWAY

Compiled by Aubrey Wiley -


In short, the Virginian Railway was created to transport high quality  'smokeless" bituminous coal from southern West Virginia to sea at Norfolk, Virginia.   Throughout its profitable fifty year history, the Virginian continued the William Page - H. H. Rogers philosophy of "paying up front for the best". It achieved the most efficient routes through the mountains, in the rolling piedmont, and across the flat tidewater terrain. Known for operating the largest and best steam, electric, and diesel locomotives, it became nicknamed the "Richest Little Railroad in the World."  When merged with the Norfolk & Western railroad in December 1959, it had an operating ratio of 56.1%!  That means for every fifty six cents spent by the railroad, it earned a dollar!  No wonder N&W wanted it!  There’s more!  The Virginian owned 56 electric locomotives, 64 diesel electric locomotives and over 17,000 freight cars. A large portion of the former Virginian trackage remains in service in the 21st century for the Norfolk Southern Railway.


But what makes the Virginian a railroad with meaning is its character!    In later years, the people who made up the railroad carried on the dreams of the founders and thereby they unknowingly created and maintained its character!  The magnificent machines that traveled the line were extensions of the employees; they were the vehicles; they were the tools of the people who made the Virginian so unique.  The Virginian was a first class operation:  A first class railroad supported by first class people, people with devotion and character!  For many, even though its name is no longer on the sides of the trains as they pass by, that is why this little railroad survives.                                                                                                              - Aubrey Wiley, 2007

I have been helped greatly with this project by several people who have generously provided pictures and information. They include: Tom Marshall of Mullens, West Virginia; Greg Elam of Victoria, Virginia; Ernie Hubble and Skip Salmon of Roanoke, Virginia. 


   ****Thank you for your patience **** 




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Left: Jim Arrington - New River Division Brakeman and Conductor who worked out of Princeton.

Right: Frank Breedlove - Norfolk Division Brakeman and Conductor. 




Left:  Grover Austin - Norfolk Division Clerk.  

Right: Raymond East - Norfolk Division Road Engineer.





Left: R. S. "Bob" Cawley - New River Division Freight Conductor. He worked on the VGN in two stints; 1911 to 1941 and 1942 into mid 1950s.  In his second stint, he worked on Hill Runs from Elmore Yard and in his picture, he stands beside his caboose, the "43."

Right: William Z. Clark - New River Division was general yardmaster



Left: James Economy - Norfolk Division, Yard Brakeman and Conductor Roanoke.

Right: Marshall C. "Motorcar" Foor - Norfolk Division Road Fireman and Engineer. Foor was the sole cab survivor of the Hardy wreck 12-31-33.  As the wb train rounded a curve west of Hardy tunnel, the track was blocked by a large boulder.  Foor also held the record of the fastest time from Roanoke to Victoria on a coal drag for some time.



Left: Lynwood Glen - Norfolk Division Fireman 

Right: Landon "Speedy" Gregory -  Norfolk Division Operator. Speedy  hired on as an operator in June 1956. In 1967, after the N&W merger, he qualified as dispatcher at Crewe.  Soon he became Night Relief Chief Dispatcher, then Chief Dispatch for Norfolk Division in 1982. Next he worked in Roanoke and became the Virginia Division  Chief Dispatcher in 1989.  In 1993, Speedy retired from that position.



 Left: Walter A. Grigg - Master Mechanic and Superintendent of Motive Power. Walter started his career at Mullens in 1939 and after WWII he became Electrical Foreman, based in Mullens. After the N&W merger, he was Electrical Engineer and later Master Mechanic, Norfolk Division.

Right: Hardy Harmon - Norfolk Division, Victoria Shop



Right: Mike Hart - Norfolk Division - Engineer ran out of Victoria, Va.







 Left: Ernest J. "Red" Hubble - Norfolk Division. He hired on in Victoria after WWII as a machinist. Before the N&W merger in 1959, Red had worked also in Roanoke, Sewell's Point and back to Roanoke. After the merger, he continued to work in Roanoke and then in Mullens. At his untimely death in 1966, he was planned to be the Roundhouse Foreman at Shaffer's Crossing, Roanoke.

Right:  John Ransom Hubble - Norfolk Division. Hubble and his bride moved to Victoria in 1909 and he worked in the Victoria roundhouse until his death in April 1959.


Left: John Rufus Hubble - Norfolk Division. A brother of Red Hubble, John worked as a machinist in Victoria for many years. Around the community he was known as an inventor and handyman, even teaching mechanics at the local community college, having only a third grade school education himself.

Right: Ralph E. Hubble - Norfolk Division. Also a brother of Red Hubble, Ralph worked his entire Virginian career as a machinist in Victoria and Roanoke.


 Left: George Russell "Slick" Inge - New River Division Brakeman, Freight Conductor, Asst. Trainmaster, Norfolk Division Trainmaster. Hired on in 1939, retired in 1976. Slick is pictured with his father's passenger brakeman's hat.

Right: Jack King - New River Division. Jack was the Car Distributor for Virginian at Princeton. In the years after the N&W merger, he became Assistant Superintendent of the Pocahontas Division.




 Left: K. T. Jones - Norfolk Division Victoria

Right: Richard Kirby - Norfolk Division. Victoria Shops







Left: Garland "Mokie" Morton -  Norfolk Division

Right: Wannie Everett Marshall - New River Division Brakeman for approximately two years until his death at age 19 about 1911.






Left: Thomas Ray Marshall - New River Division Brakeman and Conductor.  Marshall started on VGN in 1947 and worked through 1977 when he started a career with the Federal Railway Administration which continued into the early 1990s. Known on the railroad as "T. R." he is pictured working Slab Fork by an N&W photographer in 1960.

 Right: Wannie Everett Marshall, Jr. - New River Division Sectionman at Surveyor, W.Va. in the 1930s.




 Left: Russell R. McDaniel - Norfolk Division. Russell started with the Virginian in 1948 becoming  assistant engineer, assistant roundhouse foreman and then Victoria Master Mechanic in January 1957.  After the N&W merger, he became master mechanic Norfolk Division and was later named the same position in the Pocahontas Division.

Right: Harry E. McLaughlin - Norfolk Division.  Also known as "Harrymac,"  he was conductor on the last VGN passenger train in January 1956.


 Left: Ken G. McLain - Norfolk Division clerk at Sewells Point. He left the railroad when the merger with N&W took place in 1959.

Right: R. P. "Bob" Rowland - Norfolk Division clerk in Roanoke yard.





Left:  Lee Phenix (Pennix) - Norfolk Division worked at Sewells Point.

Right: Marshall "Dirty Face" Snead. Norfolk Division







 Left: Keith Sowder - Norfolk Division clerk.

Right: Wes Sowder -  Norfolk Division clerk.








Left: H. E. "Governor" Tyler - Norfolk Division clerk

Right: Tom "Cornbread" Victory - Norfolk Division yard brakeman and conductor Roanoke.







Left: Jimmy Whittaker - Norfolk Division clerk