Monday, July 21, 2008

Mixed Freight

Finally! I have been looking for you all everywhere. Where have you been?

Okay, I’m the one who has been missing. Other commitments have kept my schedule too clogged to blog. Thanks for your patience and continuing interest in VMT and transportation. I’m back now with a mixed freight of information (some of this and some of that).


The summer edition of Revolutions, our museum newsletter, is done. It will be mailed out later this week. Those of you who receive digital copies should already have yours.

The new issue is different in some ways. For one thing, it contains six pages instead of four. For another, it gives special attention to VMT’s forty-fifth anniversary, through Bev Fitzpatrick’s View from the Cab and a photo spread of the early years at Wasena Park. This newsletter covers 1963-85, including the devastating ’85 flood that destroyed the original Roanoke Transportation Museum. The fall edition will focus on 1985 to the present.

The summer Revolutions also features several other topics. They include the recent Star City Motor Madness, the African American Heritage Day during Juneteenth festivities, the Lynchburg Rail Day/VMT bus trip, the new photo exhibit, the Rescue Challenge team’s hoisting of the RF&P box car, and recent news from our Board of Directors.

To receive either the paper or the e-mailed pdf version of the newsletter, call 342-5670 or e-mail


Cocktails for a Cause comes to Trio next Wednesday, July 30. The VMT fundraiser works like this. Show up between 5-8 pm for cocktails, then move to the dining room for dinner, and Trio will donate a portion of your bar and meal receipts to the museum. You’ll find Trio at 315 Market St. SE. Train service not available.


I wrote earlier about the multiple attractions that make this area a rail lover’s dream [Railroad Heaven, May 12]. Add another to the list.

Hotel Roanoke, originally built by the N&W for its riders, still maintains a vital connection to trains. Recently the hotel launched The cam sits atop the classic building, looking out over the mainline tracks of Norfolk Southern. Now you can check out track happenings without leaving your recliner five miles away or 500 miles away (assuming you can reach a computer from your recliner).

Roanoke Rail Cam offers links to the Link and Transportation museums and the N&W Historical Society. Co-sponsor of the site is the Virginia Tech Foundation, headed by that famed train watcher himself, Ray Smoot. The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center also offers a Train Lover’s Package with accommodations overlooking the railroad—you can be your own rail cam—plus breakfast and a commemorative mug and book.


Did I just say “railroad lover’s dream”? Today I saw outside the museum an NS work train consisting of automated track laying equipment and those ribbons of continuous welded rail stretching seamlessly from car to car to car. The modern process of laying track still amazes me. And to see the equipment at point blank range—I drove up and down Shenandoah Avenue several times, drinking it all in—provides yet another argument why VMT is a special place. Every day the railroad past rubs shoulders with the railroad present.

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