Basically the N&W ran three classes
of steam locomotives towards the end, which included the A, J, and Y6;
the A-class 2-6-6-4 locomotives carried the railroad’s time-sensitive
freights across the system, especially the eastern mountainous
divisions; the J-class 4-8-4s are perhaps the most famous because of
their sleek streamlining applied to carry the railroad’s premier
passenger trains (as fast as 110-mph in some cases); and finally there
was the legendary behemoth 2-8-8-2 Y6-class which were built essentially
for one purpose, to haul those black diamonds over the rough mountainous grades.
Although by the mid-1950s the N&W finally realized that diesel locomotives were the future motive power its late steam fleet was memorialized and captured prior to its retirement
by renowned photographer O. Winston Link. While there are without
doubt many excellent and famous railroad photographers around the
country Mr. Link is by far the most celebrated and arguably not only the
best in this country but also world-wide. While Link has since passed
away his work lives on in the O. Winston Link Museum located in Roanoke,
Virginia. If you have a chance I highly recommend visiting the museum,
you certainly will not be disappointed!
From a quick look at the N&W’s balance sheets it is clear to see
that the railroad never focused heavily on its passenger train fleet
although it did have a few notable runs such as the Powhatan Arrow and Pocahontas, both of which were streamlined, adorned in a beautiful maroon and gold livery, and pulled by the famous streamlined Js. Throughout the years the N&W would merge a number
of smaller lines into its system including the parallel Virginian
Railway in 1959 (which included an electrified main line that was
discontinued by the N&W in 1962), the Nickel Plate Road in 1964, and
the Wabash Railroad also in 1964 (originally leased).
|This interesting scene depicts three variations of the N&W's liveries; the lead SD45 wears the standard black, C30-7 #8080 sports a special maroon and gold scheme, and the trailing SD45's old blue/gold scheme peaks through as all three locomotives roll light through the massive yard in Bluefield, West Virginia during October of 1980.|
The railroad would also take over the Delaware & Hudson
Railway and Erie Lackawanna as part of the 1964 merger agreement
including them under the company name of Dereco. Eventually the Norfolk and Western
would divest itself of this holding when its parent, the Pennsylvania
Railroad (which, for years owned a significant amount of N&W stock)
was required to let go of the N&W prior to its disastrous merger
with the New York Central. After the Penn Central Corporation and
Northeast railroad grid fell into shambles resulting in Conrail’s
formation in 1976 the EL requested inclusion into the new system and the
D&H was spun-off as an independent operation to give a resemblance
of competition in the Northeast.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
|One of the N&W's huge C628s, #1119, is seen here at Hagerstown, Maryland on December 29, 1970. The unit would later be sold to the Chicago & North Western.|
|An N&W GP40 and a caboose are at the Wood Street in Chicago on June 11, 1965.|
|GP9||10-13, 506-521, 620-699, 714-914||1955-1959||301|
|N&W GP18 #943 leads a string of other Geeps as the motorcade zips their manifest freight through the Virginia countryside during the late 1960s.|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|B, G/1, W2||Consolidation||2-8-0|
|E Through E3||Pacific||4-6-2|
|K1 Through K3||Mountain||4-8-2|
|M Through M2||Twelve-Wheeler||4-8-0|
|TE1||Steam Turbine, "Jawn Henry"||C-C-C-C|
|Y2a, Y3a, Y4, Y5||Articulated||2-8-8-2|
Notable Passenger Trains
Birmingham Special: Operated between New York and Birmingham, Alabama in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Railroad and Southern Railway with the N&W carrying it between Lynchburg and Bristol.
Cannon Ball: Operated between Norfolk and New York in
conjunction with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Richmond,
Fredericksburg & Potomac with the N&W carrying it between Norfolk and Petersburg.
Cavalier: (Norfolk - Cincinnati)
Pelican: Operated between New York and New Orleans in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Railroad and Southern Railway with the N&W carrying it between Lynchburg and Bristol.
Tennessean: Operated between New York and Memphis in conjunction with the
Pennsylvania Railroad and Southern Railway with the N&W carrying it
between Lynchburg and Bristol.
|N&W SD40-2 #6078 leads a westbound freight through Bluefield, West Virginia during October of 1983.|
For the N&W itself, its end began in 1980 when it,
along with the Southern Railway, were dwarfed by the new CSX
Transportation system formed between the Chessie System, Seaboard Coast
Line, and several other smaller carriers. To counter this new threat
the two carriers decided their best chance for survival was to combine
their systems, which took place in 1982. Forming the Norfolk Southern
Corporation today, between the mergers of the Southern and Norfolk &
NS continues to carry on the fine traditions set by its predecessors
and is still renowned for its sound management and business practices,
continually being ranked at the top in terms of earnings and low
operating ratios across the industry.