A Chicago Train Connecting Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Norfolk and Western Railway


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N&W herald The Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W), a US class I railroad, was formed by more than 200 railroad mergers between 1838 and 1982. It had headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia for most of its 150 year existence.
The company was famous for manufacturing steam locomotives in-house at the Roanoke Shops as well as their own hopper cars. In 1960 N&W was the last major American railroad to convert from steam to diesel motive power.
In the mid 20th century, N&W merged with long-time rival
N&W
Norfolk & Western
August 2, 1942
Virginian Railway in the Pocahontas coal region and grew even more in size and profitability by mergers with other rail carriers including Nickel Plate Road and Wabash in adjacent areas to form a system serving 14 states and a Canadian province between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River and Great Lakes with more than 7,000 miles of trackage in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, and West Virginia. Headquarters were in Roanoke, Virginia. (wik)
In 1940 the N&W premier trains, the Pocahontas and the Cavalier ran between Norfolk, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio with through Pullman sleeping cars continuing to and from Chicago on the Pennsylvania Railroad (rp).
The Norfolk & Western's Roanoke Shops employed thousands of craftsmen, and did extensive work on other types of rolling stock, such as coal hopper cars, in addition to manufacturing locomotives. Over the years, the N&W refined its products. The later famed classes A, J, and Y6 locomotives were the result. Designed, built and maintained by N&W personnel, these three types made the company known industry-wide for its excellence in steam power. N&W's commitment to steam power was due in part to its investment in the manufacturing capacity and human resources to build and operate steam locomotives, and partially due to the major commodity it hauled, coal. In 1960, shortly after it acquired the Virginian Railway by merger, N&W was the last major railroad in the United States to convert from steam to diesel-electric motive power. Even after manufacturing of steam locomotives ended, the Roanoke Shops continued to build and repair other forms of rolling stock, work which continued under N&W successor, Norfolk Southern (NS), in the early 21st century (wik).
Norfolk & Western Railway was combined with the Southern Railway, another profitable carrier, to form the Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS) in 1982.
The Coal Road bucks the Diesel trend
The Norfolk and Western was primarily a coal hauler and resisted the inevitable diesel changeover until quite late. After all other steam locomotive builders in the states had given up on steam the N&W still built steam locomotives in its Roanoke shops; Alco had given up steam in 1948, and Baldwin and Lima in 1949. In 1951 N&W begins building the last steamers, 15 S1a 0-8-0's and 6 Y6b 2-8-8-2's. In 1952 the N&W tested an A-B-B-A set of F7 diesels from EMD and said no. In 1954 the N&W built "John Henry" a big steam turbine-electric locomotive which failed. Finally in 1955 the N&W belatedly took a few diesels but declared their allegiance to steam. The irony is that the N&W was completely dieselized by 1960. They were one of the last.
Short History of the Norfolk and Western Railway
1838 - City Point Railroad formed to run from James River 9 miles to Appomattox River near Petersburg, Virginia.
1853 - Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad begins building from Petersburg toward Norfolk.
1854 - City Point Railroad becomes part of South Side Railroad, connecting Petersburg with Lynchburg, where it interchanged through traffic with both the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad (V&T) and the James River and Kanawha Canal.
1858 - N&P completed Petersburg to Norfolk.
1861-1865 - Civil War - much damage to N&P. City Point Railroad used by Grant in siege of Petersburg.
post 1865 - N&P being rebuilt.
1870 - N&P, South Side Railroad, and Virginia and Tennessee Railroad merged to form the Atlantic Mississippi and Ohio Railroad, a line extending 408 miles from Norfolk to Bristol, Virginia.
1873-1881 - AM&O in receivership.
1881 - Pennsylvania Railroad, controlling the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, engineers reorganization of AM&O to become the Norfolk and Western, and establishes Big Lick, Virginia (future Roanoke) as connecting point between N&W and SV.
1881 - Four Virginia and West Virginia short line franchises picked up by N&W to reach coal fields in VA and WV.
post 1881 - N&W very profitable with coal traffic.
1885 - N&W expands into coal land ownership, later the Pocahontas Land Company.
1881-1903 - N&W continues westward expansion, eventually reaching Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. It also extended southward from Lynchburg to Durham, NC and from Roanoke to Winston-Salem, NC.
1880's - 1929 - Coal towns flourish before crash of 1929.
1889 - N&W extends tracks to Lambert's Point and Hampton Roads, where one of largest coal shipping points in the world was built.
1900 - Norfolk is largest coal exporter in world with N&W and the Virginian Railways.
1914-1945 - N&W operates profitably through both world wars and the great depression. Attempts to obtain Virginian Railway, with its lower grade line, turned down by ICC.
1951-1953 - N&W builds last steam locomotives in U.S. in its Roanoke shops.
1954 - N&W biulds unsuccessful steam turbine-electric locomotive "John Henry".
1955 - N&W receives a few diesels but is still committed to steam.
1959 - N&W finally merges the Virginian Railway into N&W.
1960 - N&W completely dieselized.
1964 - N&W acquires Wabash, Nickel Plate, Pittsburgh and West Virginia and Akron Canton and Youngstown Railroads.
1981 - N&W acquires Illinois Terminal Railroad.
1982 - N&W and Southern combine to become Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk Southern Genealogy


Rio Grande Map 1947
Norfolk and Western Railway - Timetable Map - 1942


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
Diesel Victory-Kalmbach Publishing Co.-2008(dvk)

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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 30, 2009, revised Sept. 19, 2011