Skip to comments.Rural Retreat, VA, Train 42, December 24, 1957 [Christmas Eve Vanity]
Posted on 12/24/2015 6:30:10 PM PST by Rodamala
Train 42, 'The Pelican', headed by N&W 4-8-4 Class J 603 arrives at Rural Retreat, VA eastbound from New Orleans to Washington shortly before 10pm Dec. 27th, 1957, and thunders off into the night. The Norfolk & Western Railway's own Class J was perhaps the finest of all express steam engines, and 603 is heard here in its last days of main line service with a consist of 17 cars.
The photograph is of Train 17, 'The Birmingham Special' westbound arriving later that same night at 11:37pm, being waved through by Agent J.L. Akers. The photograph and sound recording were by O. Winston Link and his assistant Corky Zider who operated a Tapesonic recorder and non-directional microphone; chimes were played specially for the recording at the nearby Grace Lutheran Church by Mrs. Kathryn Dodson. Seven nights later, steam motive power would come to an end on the N&W main line through Rural Retreat and Bristol.
Alternate recording, with different photo of an eastbound and possibly of better audio quality:
NPR interview with Mrs. Dodson in 2001:
Peace on Earth.
Superb photo — was that ambient lighting or did the photographer add illumination?
This is number 611 coming down 8 mile grade in Western North Carolina. I photographed it at Ridgecrest then drove down to Old Fort and got there in time to get it again.
A rotten capture by Google, but here’s the same location and train building in recent years:
Click the NPR YouTube link in the original post for the layman's backstory on OWL. One photo shows some of his flash gear.
My Christmas Eve tradition.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
One of the FReepers I pinged this year, JamesA, had responded to my identical post back 2 years ago. In 2013, he lived in Rural Retreat:
I live in Rural Retreat, VA. A great place to live. The Depot has plenty of history, it was widely used for years and most notably was during the Civil War. Today, the depot is being renovated back to its original condition and it's a wonderful place. Rural Retreat once was known as the cabbage capitol due the many cabbage farms. Music is another reason to live in Rural Retreat, be it from fiddle, guitar or banjo, it's all here.
It’s funny, I’ve passed Rural Retreat on I-81 countless times but never visited the little downtown. A lot of those little towns have gotten spruced up. I’m grateful they spared the old RR depot. Too many places, unfortunately, have lost theirs over the years. :-(
Thank you for posting. Merry Christmas.
Thanks for keeping me in mind for your Christmas Eve tradition and a Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Constructed in late 1863 by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad Company as one of two "way stations" built between San Francisco and San Jose, the original 24 foot by 50 foot passenger portion of the depot was built on the east side of the tracks. The first regular through passenger service to San Francisco started on January 17, 1864. When the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the first shipment of fresh fruit, a carload of pears from the Santa Clara depot, was sent from California to the eastern states in October, 1869.
It was the oldest continuously operating railroad depot in the State of California until the ticket office was closed in May 1997. Today it houses a railroad museum and model train layouts.
Brings to mind one of my favorite movies.....The Station Master
It’s .....The Station Agent
That’s purty. It looks in better shape today than in the older picture.
Thanks for posting.
Great way to start Christmas. morning!
Merry Christmas. It looks so great because “the South Bay Historical Railroad Society, a nonprofit group founded in 1985, began renovation work in 1986 on the depot, by then badly in need of repair. A group of dedicated volunteers spent over 25,000 hours hauling away debris, replacing support timbers, siding, exterior decking and interior flooring, scraping peeling paint, painting and many other repairs. With the major renovation now complete, this 139-year-old building hosts a railroad library and museum while still serving its original function as a passenger depot.”
It was made of heart redwood from the nearby Santa Cruz mountains, so it naturally resisted rot. The clapboard siding on my 60 year old house is all heart redwood, too.
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