Thursday, August 26, 2010

Virginia Museum of Transportation

We paid an all-too-brief visit to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke recently. It has an extensive collection of equipment concentrating on the N&W and Virginian. The museum occupies an old N&W freight house and the adjoining yard near the center of the city. The equipment is all on static display, and VMT is more like MSI than IRM.

The Claytor Pavilion covers much of the yard tracks and the displayed equipment, nearly all of which is in very good cosmetic condition.

The jewels of the collection are the 611 and 1218, as seen here. These of course were both in excursion service until the N&W steam program was halted several years ago. I was lucky to see them both in steam when they came to Chicago.

The sun seemed to be in the wrong position for picture taking, but the yard was about to close.

On both the 611 and 1218, you can walk into the space between the cab and the tender. The cab itself is block off with a plexiglass wall, but it makes a great display.

I spoke to Charles Hardy, one of the volunteer docents. He was friendly and informative. VMT is entirely self-supporting and receives no state funding. There are five or six employees, and ten or twelve volunteers, most of whom are docents. Volunteers do a few restoration projects; for instance, they plan next to fix up the cab of the Virginian EL-C so visitors can enter it. Major projects are funded by grants, and one of the employees is responsible for grant requests.

By the way, when Mr. Hardy learned I was from IRM, he tried his hardest to arrange some sort of deal to acquire the 2050. He offered us a business car, two waycars, a Diesel switcher, and I forget what else. He was rather disappointed when I told him I was pretty sure we would never consent to trade it away. He must not have heard about the 952 controversy because he also asked me if I thought they could acquire the Y-6 from St. Louis.

Here's the Washington PCC #1470, which is stored outside and used for children's parties.

Inside the main building are several very professionally-done display areas, with a wide variety of subjects. There's a large O gauge hi-rail layout and lots of pictures and artifacts.

Here we see a replica branch station on the left, and part of a display about African-Americans on the N&W.

And I should point out that VMT also has substantial collections of other types of transportation, such as autos, busses, and airplanes, which I didn't have time to examine.

Out in back is the recently-acquired N&W 4-8-0 #1151. It had been sitting in a nearby scrapyard since the end of steam.


David Wilkins said...

The 952 "controversy" you speak of is well on its way to becoming "well settled law."

David Wilkins
General Counsel
Hicks Car Works

Anonymous said...

If they throw in the 1470....

Tom Hunter

David Wilkins said...

If you look at the top photo, you can see the car Randy drove to Virginia. Get that planetary transmission figured out yet?

Randall Hicks said...

There was a man sitting there offering Model T rides. It was fitted with wooden benches for passengers. I don't know enough about Model T's to say how much it might have been modified.

Mr. Doornbos, Wanderer said...

I worked there once, I was senior Curator (Refereed to as Intern, since I was unpaid). God was that a fun museum. :-)