Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Excursion Train Visits Charlottesville

On Sunday, November 1 members and friends of the NRHS Rivanna Chapter assisted some of the ~1000 passengers who disembarked from the Virginia Autumn Special at the Charlottesville Amtrak Station.  This excursion was sponsored by the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum of Johnson City, TN.  The text below describes the route and highlights of the Special.

The Virginia Autumn Special passed through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville, and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, and passengers viewed the beauty of the Piedmont and rolling hills of the Carolinas and the western part of Central Virginia. Spectacular views of the Dan, Roanoke, and James Rivers were enjoyed. The train passed by Schuyler, the mountain town fictionalized in the television show "The Waltons." At mid-day the Special arrived in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Travelers had several hours to explore the historic downtown area. Buses or a short walk took visitors to the Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall, one of the most beautiful and successful pedestrian malls in the nation. Unique shopping and dining opportunities were had in boutiques, specialty wine, coffee and tea shops and outdoor dining spots.

The Rivanna Chapter's unofficial photographer, Ann Harrod, was on hand and captured images of some of the vintage equipment and VIPs.  A sampling of her excellent photos are below.



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut-Quercy

     In May 2015 Vickie and Mark Gottlob were staying in Sarlot, a restored 16th century town in the Dordogne region in southwest France.  One of their day trips was to the town of Martel in the Haut Quercy region to check out an excursion railroad.  Their plan was to watch the train take off on an excursion, but they arrived just as it was loading and quickly bought very reasonable tickets.  They joined the large crowd on open cars pulled by a Polish steam locomotive.  Haut Quercy is near the Massif Central and is made up of limestone bluffs cut by the Dordogne River.  The railroad was originally built in the 1880’s to haul truffles out of the mountains to the cities below.  The train traveled along a series of bluffs, through tunnels, and over viaducts, with magnificent views of agricultural land and castles.  Photos from their journey appear below.    
 Poster advertising the excursion
 Ticket Office
The steam locomotive (0-6-0 tank) acquired
from a Polish potato glue factory in 2000
Views of walnut groves and a castle with moat
Approaching the Courtilis Viaduct
Viewing stop at the Mirandol Tunnel

Thursday, July 30, 2015

N&W Class J 611 Excursions

Over the last few months numerous members of the Rivanna Chapter have ridden, spotted, and chased excursions headed by J 611.  While Charlottesville was not on the route of any of the excursions, we did benefit with two stops by J 611 and its entire consist during moves to and from Manassas.  Happily, there are thousands of pictures and images posted on the internet and an excellent video by Travis Koshko was broadcast by the Newsplex...so just a few photos are posted here to record some of the Chapter members' and friends' experiences.

John Pfaltz had the longest trip when his Lynchburg-Petersburg roundtrip turned into a 14 hour marathon due to track, signal, and other railroad challenges.  Louise and Chuck Ward had a great day on their Manassas-Front Royal roundtrip and reported that the only upsets were an avid photographer on the active tracks and an air conditioning problem (that Chuck got repowered).  Wayland Moore is thought to have set a new world's record for being spotted by more other spotters and in more locations than ever previously recorded.  Ed de Bary took a unique approach by undergoing training and then serving as a car host on Lynchburg-Roanoke runs. 

The photos below are by Ed, Sam Saunders, and Ross Thomas.  Note especially the car host shown below in uniform, for the Operation Lifesaver Car, NS 29.

Northbound in Charlottesville
NS 29
NS 29 Interior
NS 29 Car Host on Duty 

End of the Day in Roanoke
Job Well Done

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

NRHS 2015 Vermont

The 2015 NRHS convention was held in Rutland, Vermont in June - Ann Harrod represented the Rivanna Chapter at this annual meeting.  She attended meetings, rode excursions, and visited interesting museums and other venues.  Ann brought back more than 200 photos and videos from her trip and has offered to narrate some of them at a Chapter meeting later this year.  In the meantime, here are a few editor's picks from Ann's album.  The locomotives shown above are from the Green Mountain Railroad and the Vermont Railway.




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Colebrookdale RR Exec's Visit the Rivanna Chapter

The April 21st meeting of the Rivanna Chapter featured a presentation by Nathaniel Guest, president of the Colebrookdale RR.  Nathaniel was accompanied by Preston McEvoy, a board member and dedicated supporter of the Colebrookdale.  Nathaniel gave a terrific talk that illustrated the challenges and the miraculous success of this young enterprise.

Nathaniel, a working president, serves
as the conductor on many of the runs
 of the Colebrookdale. 

Prior to the presentation, John Pfaltz accompanied Nathaniel and Preston to assess some classic RR equipment stored on a siding near Verona, in the Shenandoah Valley.  Later that same afternoon, John and his gracious wife Margaret, hosted a reception for our guests.

Nathaniel, John, and Preston.
Nathaniel's presentation started with the earliest history of the Colebrookdale and brought it up to the present, including a recent successful excursion that included some surprises.

  The Mudball Express seeded some beautiful
wildflowers, but also yielded some splash back
inside the coaches!
Ross Thomas provided an insider's tour
of the University of Virginia on
the morning of the April 22nd 
The Rivanna Chapter's beloved PRR 477768
continues to be sold out on runs of the Colebrookdale
For more details check out the Colebrookdale at: https://www.facebook.com/colebrookdalerailroad


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rivanna Chapter Picnic

Splendid weather made for a wonderful afternoon for the Chapter on August 16 at the home of John and Margaret. 

 Chef Ed checks out the BBQ as Dan chills
 Elizabeth and Nicholas enjoy the burgers and slaw
Bernard and Dale sample the hot dogs and salad
 Members discuss potential locations for future monthly meetings

Timing for a visit to PRR 477768 and the Colebrookdale RR being considered
Chef Ed has had enough of the hot grill and declares the pool open

John relaxes in the hot tub

Elizabeth takes to the pool

On behalf of the Chapter, Ross thanks Margaret and John for a great afternoon
All photos by Susan and Ross 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Streamliners at Spencer

There was an extraordinary gathering of 26 operable, classic diesel streamliners at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer at the end of May.  The Rivanna Chapter did not attempt to organize a group trip to this four-day event, but four members made the trek on their own.

Although the N&W J 611 is coal fired, it also made a grand appearance at Spencer on the morning of May 30.  Wick Moorman, the chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern, loosened a nut on the 611's power train as the ceremonial beginning of its two-year rebuild process.  The Chapter recently contributed 2 x $611 for that effort.

Below are a few amateur photos taken by Ross Thomas of some of the locomotives at Spencer.  The internet is loaded with thousands of better ones!  The Museum's website has a sampling of the activity at Spencer: