Train 42 'The Pelican' headed by Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 Class J
603 arrives at Rural Retreat, VA eastbound from New Orleans to
Washington shortly before 10 pm 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 with the video is of Train 17 'The Birmingham Special'
westbound arriving later that same night at 11.37 pm, 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; the Christmas carols on the
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.
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