Norfolk & Western Steam on the East End in the 1950s.

(Some contemporary views added to show what's changed and what has not.)

Copyright (c) 2004 Roy Blanchard

Permission granted to copy for individual use but not for publication or other distribution.

Class K-1 heavy 4-8-2 #111 works the westbound local freight at Wakefield Va. 1/19/1957. At this time the K-1s held down a Norfolk-Crewe local and its eastbound counterpart, meeting in Petersburg. In about 1958 it became one local from Norfolk to P'burg and back with another turn from Crewe. Then came the streamlined K-2 4-8-2s and finally the noble Js in the late 50s as diesels took over the passenger jobs.

Wakefield in June, 2004.


Class J 4-8-4 # 602 with Train #3, the "Pocahontas," Wakefield, Va., 5/9/1958. It's 50 miles from Suffolk to Poe with nary a curve and Wakefield is in the middle of this stretch. Speeds of 100 mph were common. The station was gone when I visited in June 2004.

By 1959 leased ACL E-units had bumped the Js from the passenger jobs and this was the result. Here the 610 switches the Grey Lumber industry track in Waverly on 3/7/1959.

Class A 2-6-6-4 #1210 hauling WB hopper empties, MP 54, 1/31/1959. These modern machines did all the mainline freight work on the east end, leaving the big Y class power to handle the hills and curves to the west.

Class A 2-6-6-4 #1218 by MP 71 hustling hoppers of export coal east to Lamberts Point in 1957.

MP 71 was a great location to catch the local freights as both WB and EB turns took water here. Here the 613 slows for water on the return trip from Petersburg. 2/8/1958.

On an earlier trip to MP 71 the 111 (see above at Wakefield) heads west after taking water. The closest town is Disputanta, about a mile east.


Class Y3 2-8-8-2 #2043, Portlock Yard, South Norfolk, 3/3/1957. The older Y class power had by the late 1950s been relegated to switching the Lamberts Point docks and support yards like Portlock.

The 2043, same day, same place.

Class Y-6b 2-8-8-2 #2132, NB, Shenandoah, VA 12/16/1956. This is now on the I-81 corridor of NS and in the late 1950s the through freights and coal jobs went to the class Y-6b. The night passenger turn to and from NYC via Harrisburg and the PRR drew streamlined Ks. One also found class M 4-8-0s, unstreamlined Ks and the ubiquitous class S 0-8-0s lurking about.

By June 2004 the scene was quite different. Two northbound manifest freights change crews at Shenandoah. The engine terminal that was behind me when I shot the Y is gone and the space filled in with trees.

Class S 0-8-0 # 256 faces South at Lovitt Ave, Norfolk. Today the I-264 overpass nearly covers this location.The tower is gone and the baseball stadium parking lot now occupies the former coach yards, out of sight, left.

Class J 4-8-4 #611 with the early morning Roanoke train at Norfolk Union Station circa 1957. Both the Virginian and the original Norfolk Southern used this station, though by the 50s the NS was long gone. Today the station is gone and the real estate totally given over to the I-264 bridge network as it splits to Portsmouth, Water Street, and Tideater Drive. Photo by H. Reid.


Something else you can never photograph again. Looking east, class S 0-8-0 #283 works Water Street in Norfolk. The water is to the right, Union Station to the left, the main line is half a mile east and the site of the present Norfolk Southern building is just over my left shoulder.

Class S 0-8-0 #270 working Hopewell, Va yard, 3/7/59.

Class J 4-8-4 # 609 in Petersburg VA in January 1958 with the WB "Pocahontas."


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