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:

Visit to the High Bridge

On May 24, members and friends of the NRHS Rivanna Chapter visited the High Bridge Trail State Park near Farmville.  The Park encompasses the remnants of the historic High Bridge, built in 1854 to cross the Appomattox River and connect Petersburg and Lynchburg. The bridge is 2,400 feet long and ranges from 60 to 125 feet high. It was originally made of wood, standing on 21 brick piers and included a pedestrian walkway next to the tracks and a nearby wagon bridge. During the American Civil War, both Union and Confederate forces attempted to destroy the bridge to their advantage. Today a newer bridge, adjacent to the remains of the original, is a rail trail converted from a line last belonging to Norfolk Southern and having originated as a portion of the South Side Railroad.

Bob Flippen, an educational specialist with the Park, provided an excellent narrative and tour for our group.  Bob explained the construction of the bridges, the strategic role they played in the War, and the fortifications at both ends of the Bridge. 

After the walking and biking tour many of the participants enjoyed lunch together at Charley’s Water Front CafĂ© in Farmville.  The photos below capture the highlights of the day.

Denis Mason checks out the former N&W depot
in Farmville on the way to the High Bridge
Ann Harrod photo
Approach to the bridge with crushed
 stone on top of the old railroad bed
Doug Bush photo
Bob Flippen describes the construction
of the bridge at a shady overlook 
Ben Farmer photo
Above: the new bridge is on the right and the
 remains of the old bridge are on the left. 
Below: one of the old brick piers is shown with
 angle iron and bands, added later for stabilization.
Carl Bauske photos

The Rivanna Chapter group pauses at the
mid-point on the bridge on a glorious sunny day
Doug Bush photo
The Chapter and Ross Thomas thank Bob Flippen
 for an excellent tour and present a print of PRR 477768
(neither the Seaboard nor the PRR ran over the High Bridge!)
Ann Harrod photo
Members and friends cool off at Charley's in Farmville
Ed de Bary photo
For more information on the High Bridge and the Park, visit the sites below: 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Cabin Car's Journey - Part I

Over the past six years, John Pfaltz and other members of the NRHS Rivanna Chapter lovingly restored PRR Cabin Car 477768 at a spur in Red Hill, Virginia.  In January 2014, the cabin car made a glorious return to Pennsylvania to become part of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust in Boyertown.  The images and video links in the three-part sequence below capture some of the trip, as well as events in Virginia and Pennsylvania prior to and after the transfer.

The Farewell Ceremony at Red Hill, VA, and the departure for Lynchburg, VA

Photos from the Ceremony on Dec. 19, 2013
 A group of some of the Rivanna Chapter members who restored the Cabin Car 
Photo by Susan Thomas
Another group of some of the Rivanna Chapter members who restored the Cabin Car 
Photo by Dale Diacont
Dignitaries from Boyertown, Charlottesville, and the Rivanna Chapter exchange greetings
Photo by Ann Harrod
Colebrookdale RR and Rivanna Chapter personnel team together 
for a ceremonial push of the Cabin Car 
Photo by Wayland Moore
Charles Haddad (Boyertown Rotary) presents history books
to John Pfaltz and Roger Lehmann (Boyertown Lions) looks on 
Photo by Ann Harrod
The southbound departure for Lynchburg on Jan. 13, 2014
NS crew prepares for switching as the Cabin Car is
pulled from the spur in Red Hill onto the NS mainline
Photo by John Pfaltz
The Cabin Car's Journey is continued in Part II below.

A Cabin Car's Journey - Part II

Lynchburg, VA to Pottstown, PA

After the Cabin Car left Red Hill, VA it first went south to Lynchburg, VA.  In Lynchburg it was switched to an NS northbound train.  Pictures taken in Lynchburg, Red Hill, and PA are below, but we have none from northern VA or MD.  We believe that the Cabin Car was in both Allentown and Reading, PA, on its way to the interchange with the Colebrookdale RR in Pottstown, PA.

PRR Day in Lynchburg
 On Jan. 13, during its southbound trip to Lynchburg, the Cabin Car passed the northbound NS Heritage locomotive above (pictured here by the Lynchburg, Kemper Street station)
Photo by Garland Harper
The Cabin Car in its intended position on the consist
Photo by Garland Harper

Two links below lead to videos made by Travis Koshko on January 14.  The first shows the northbound NS train with the Cabin Car on the trestle over the James River in Lynchburg.  The second was taken in Red Hill as PRR 477768 passed by her former home for the final time.  In the silence ending the second video - share in the joy, pride, and sadness of those who restored her.

 Near Temple, PA on Jan. 15
Photo by Jason Schutter

 Near Birdsboro, PA on Jan. 16
Photo by Todd Strickler
A Cabin Car's Journey is continued in Part III below.

A Cabin Car's Journey - Part III

Boyertown , PA - January 17, 2014 

Triumphant arrival in Boyertown on Jan. 17
Boyertown and Colebrookdale RR dignitaries and families 
John Pfaltz (center) receives recognition from Charles Haddad (left, Rotary)
 and Roger Lehmann (right, Lions)
Three photos above all from Colebrookdale RR
Boyertown after January 17
A cold night on Jan. 23
Photo by Leonard F. Shaner, Jr.
Cabin car boosts spirits and fund raising on Feb. 7
Photo by Colebrookdale RR

Beautiful Lady - We brought you back to your prime and returned you to your homeland. Go forth and make us proud again.          
- John Pfaltz and the NRHS Rivanna Chapter
Thanks to Norfolk Southern ( and their many employees who were involved in safely and quickly moving PRR 477768 from Virginia to Pennsylvania.
For more information on the Rivanna Chapter and the National Railway Historical Society check: and

Keep up with the progress of the Colebrookdale RR at:


Friday, February 7, 2014

Field Trip Invitation to Chapter Members and Friends

J 611, Ralph Yoder Photo
UVA OLLI Outing to Roanoke: Photography and Transportation Museums

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On April 3 our OLLI Outing will take us to Roanoke, where we’ll visit two museums and have lunch in a “food court with a history.” Our bus will depart from the Fashion Square Mall Sears’ parking lot at 8:00 a.m. and return by approximately 5:15 p.m. And we’ll have some en route entertainment!  Ross Thomas, who last fall taught the OLLI course “Railroads of Charlottesville and Virginia,” has agreed to supply archival train videos, along with his own remarks.

Roanoke’s history is that of a boom town created by the coming of rail. It was a little hamlet called Big Lick until the 1850s, when it became a rail junction and the gateway to the west for the Norfolk & Western Railway. Our tour will trace this dramatic history.

Our first stop will be the O. Winston Link Museum situated in a restored Norfolk & Western passenger train station. The museum is dedicated to the photography of O. Winston Link, the twentieth-century railroad photographer widely considered the master of the juxtaposition between steam railroading and rural culture. On display are hundreds of photographic prints, along with interactive displays including audio that provides information on Link’s photographic subjects. We’ll see the documentary film What a Picture I Got and have a guided tour.

A short bus ride will take us to the historic City Market Building for lunch on our own. After lunch we’ll visit the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which has one of the finest rail collections in the United States. This museum is housed in the old Norfolk & Western freight station. Outside in the rail yard there are more than 50 pieces of rolling stock, historic steam and diesel engines, cabooses, and other rail equipment. Of special note, the rail yard features the internationally known Norfolk & Western Class J 611 and the Class A 1218, the most modern steam locomotives ever built. (Restoration of the J 611 is imminent and it may be off-site when we visit.) Inside the museum you’ll find model trains and automotive and aviation exhibits, plus a gift store with hard-to-find, transportation-related gifts. You are free to wander the museum inside and out until we depart for home at 3:15 p.m.

The cost of the Roanoke Outing is $60. OLLI members and nonmembers alike are welcome! Note, however, that if you reserve a spot and then cancel, you will not receive a refund unless we find someone to take your place. 

How to Register for this OLLI Outing:
• Register online and pay with your credit card; OR
• Mail a completed registration form (available on the OLLI website and at the back of the spring 2014 catalog) with your check payable to UVA Fund/OLLI to OLLI, 1160 Pepsi Place, Suite 114, Charlottesville, VA 22901; OR
• Telephone the OLLI office (434.923.3600 or 877.861.9207) and pay with your credit card.