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Norfolk & Western Railway freight trains

By | January 21, 2022

The Norfolk & Western is Classic Trains’ fallen flag railroad of the month for January 2022

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Diesel locomotives with coal train on steel viaduct
Steam locomotive with auxiliary tender powers freight train between signals

Norfolk & Western 2-8-8-2 No. 2172 rolls east out of Portsmouth, Ohio, with a train of hoppers in tow in 1957. The railroad was among the last for mainline steam in the U.S. Bruce R. Meyer photo

Steam locomotive with auxiliary tender powers freight train between signals
Steam locomotive reverses with short train on curve in valley

Brakemen ride the end sill of the tender and hang on to the grab irons as their 2-6-6-2, eastbound with the local freight, rounds Bottom Creek curve near Vivian, W.Va. Ben F. Cutler photo

Steam locomotive reverses with short train on curve in valley
Steam locomotive leads freight train through curve by white tower
Steam locomotive leads freight train through curve by white tower
Train passes behind signal on elevated trackage

A caboose passes the crossovers at Kellysville, Va., on a 200-car train between Bluefield and Roanoke in October 1961. The original N&W line to Roanoke is in the foreground. Note that coal is loaded in both hoppers and solid-bottom gondolas. Don Wood photo

Train passes behind signal on elevated trackage
Three diesel locomotives move train of mostly boxcars through wooded hills

A merchandise train led by GP9 No. 773 passes through Thaxton, Va., east of Roanoke. The train consists of mostly boxcars and reefers, but also has some machinery on a flatcar and two gondolas at the head end. Note that the middle Geep belongs to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Classic Trains collection

Three diesel locomotives move train of mostly boxcars through wooded hills
Five diesel locomotives roll a loaded coal train around a curve past some signals

A coal train rolls through Big Four, W.Va., on the Pocahontas Division. The five Alco RS11 diesel locomotives were built 1956-1961. Classic Trains collection

Five diesel locomotives roll a loaded coal train around a curve past some signals
Diesel locomotives with coal train on steel viaduct

Four Alco RS11 diesels led by No. 347 pull a coal train on the Clinch Valley Line near Tazewell, Va., against a 1% grade. Classic Trains collection

Diesel locomotives with coal train on steel viaduct
Diesel locomotive in front of coal-loading facility

Fairbanks-Morse H24-66 No. 171 pushes unwashed coal through the Summerlee, W.Va., washer into a yard behind the facility. This is a former Virginian Railway line that N&W acquired in 1959. Both the N&W and Virginia bought the H24-66 model, known as the “Train Master.” P. Rickershauser photo

Diesel locomotive in front of coal-loading facility
Diesel locomotive with one boxcar and many flatcars with trailers in profile

GP9 No. 641 moves a short train northbound north of Pontiac, Ill., on the old Wabash Streator branch on Dec. 26, 1969. Fresh snow and the sky make the train seem suspended in space. Bruce R. Meyer photo

Diesel locomotive with one boxcar and many flatcars with trailers in profile
Blue diesel locomotive with train of maroon boxcars

A Norfolk & Western transfer from the far south side of Chicago, powered by former Wabash passenger GP7 No. 3464 (ex-464), has come up on the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s “Panhandle” line from the south and through Milwaukee’s A2 interlocking, and now backs into a nearby yard. J. David Ingles photo

Blue diesel locomotive with train of maroon boxcars

Classic Trains editors are celebrating the history, heritage, and style of the Norfolk & Western Railway all through January 2022. Please enjoy this photo gallery of Norfolk & Western freight trains selected from the archives of Kalmbach Media’s David P. Morgan Library.

The Norfolk & Western was a coal-oriented road linking Cincinnati and Columbus with Norfolk, Va. Thus, its primary traffic was the movement of coal from West Virginia and Virginia mine to the tidewater at Norfolk, and, to a lesser extent, to Midwestern industrial consumers. However, in 1964, the railroad acquired the Nickel Plate Road and Wabash, extending its reach to Buffalo, Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City and expanding its industrial traffic base.

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