View Full Version : Short Tour Of The Roanoke Railwalk

12-08-2011, 18:10
I actually got three subjects on my last roll through the Retina IIIC, and this is the second one. (The third is part of a continuing project I'm working on, and will have to wait till later) Kodak T-Max 400, orange filter, malfunctioning Sunny-16 meter.

Planning for the Roanoke Railwalk was begun in 1993, and it was mostly completed and dedicated in 2007. It stretches from Market Street downtown, to the Transportation Museum of Virginia, at Norfolk Avenue and Third Street. Many artifacts of the railroading industry are on display along its path, and some are interactive, such as diesel horns, signals, steam locomotive bells, and a working crossing gate. Part of it is used for public gatherings and concerts, and there are benches made from boxcar wheels to rest on.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7021/6479601973_483a3c691f_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479601973/)
Start (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479601973/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
The first thing you see on the Railwalk are some informative plaques, detailing the history of the railroad in Roanoke. To the right is a crossing buck, one of the many artifacts along the Railwalk. The brick design in the street is mimicing a turntable, used to change the direction of locomotives in the railyard. In the right background in the O. Winston Link Museum, and in the left background, the Hotel Roanoke.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7159/6479602527_5c2da5fb64_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479602527/)
Display Plaque (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479602527/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]7/), on Flickr
In many spots on the Railwalk, there are sets of driver wheels, leftovers of the steam era salvaged from a scrap yard, and put to use as plaque holders. These will usually have information specific to the location, such as this one giving the story of the East End Shops.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7156/6479603145_a7dcb16b22_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479603145/)
Hotel Roanoke Across The Way (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479603145/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
Originally opened in 1882, it was damaged by a fire in 1898 that closed it down for several months. Remodeled in 1938, new wings were added in 1947 and '55. It was closed in 1989 when the N&W Railway ceded it to Virginia Tech, and they proceeded to sell off the furnishings. In 1992, a "Renew Roanoke" campaign raised over 5 million dollars to renovate it, and Norfolk Southern pitched in another 2 million. Reopening in 1995, it added a conference center to draw more business, and was eventually sold to the Doubletree Hotels chain. The hotel is connected to downtown Roanoke by the pedestrian bridge seen in the right of the photo.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7022/6479603667_1d95c9cfbf_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479603667/)
Monument (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479603667/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
David Goode, former CEO of Norfolk Southern, and his wife Susan were heavy supporters of the Railwalk, and so it was named after them.

This fountain depicts the N&W Railway as it was in Virginia, along with some crankshafts out of diesel engines denoting the East End Shops. In the background is the old General Offices Building (GOB) South, one of three such structures run by N&W to conduct all their departmental business. It is now an apartment building, and stands on the site of the original GOB, which burned down.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7001/6479604249_ce452689a5_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479604249/)
For Scale (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479604249/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
To show the size of those crankshafts, and the driver wheels used as plaquard holders, I snapped a pedestrian as he went by. The tallest crank is from an EMD SD-45, one of the sweetest sounding diesel locomotives ever built. But they were fuel hogs, and had a propensity to break their 20-cylinder cranks, so most were decommissioned, or even re-engined with a more reliable powerplant.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7162/6479604727_30f6f77bf2_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479604727/)
Platform Stage (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479604727/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
Designed to resemble a passenger platform of the steam era, it also incorporates a flatcar used as a stage for concerts and other activities. The two signals at either end of the platform have controls that folks strolling along the Railwalk can activate, changing the "aspect" of the PRR style signals.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7034/6479605345_fe0821ee2a_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479605345/)
New Signals (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479605345/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
This stretch of railroad has undergone many changes over the years, as routes are realligned according to traffic density. This new cantlever signal bracket replaces one that was no longer in the proper location, and was too short for overhead clearance. In the background is the Henry Street bridge, now known as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge, and leads to his statue and memorial plaza. When I first came to Roanoke, you could still drive over this bridge, and it was called 1st Street. It has a wooden deck, and that was the only time I did that. Shortly after, the bridge was permanently closed to auto traffic. Before it was dedicated to Dr. King, it was rebuilt replacing a lot of the iron with steel, new deck planks were installed, and it was raised to clear double-stack container trains.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7034/6479605903_96aa6f400f_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479605903/)
Old Signals (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479605903/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
Dating back to most likely the early '30s, this is typical of the signal bridges that occupied the routes through downtown Roanoke for many years. Someday, it too will be replaced by a new aluminum structure.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7019/6479606703_191d4f6fda_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479606703/)
O. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479606703/)WinstonLinkMuseum (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6479606703/) by br1078phot (http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/), on Flickr
A panorama of the 'Link', as seen from the start of the Railwalk. It opened in 2004, and houses mostly the collection of O. W. Link's photographs, negatives, and darkroom and camera gear. You can even look through one of his cameras to see what a scene looked like as he was photographing it. It is the former N&W passenger station, opened in the early twenties, and redesigned in the thirties in an art-deco style by Raymond Lowey. The old passenger platform escalators have been removed, and those hidious windows installed.


12-08-2011, 18:34
Nice photo project.

I stayed at the Hotel Roanoke in the spring of 1970 as a high school senior for the state National Honor Society convention. Brings back faint memories.

Just remembered, my room was right next door to Miss Virginia.

12-08-2011, 19:22
Nice photos. I remember roundhouses (where you would find the turn table). The town where I grew up had a large rail yard supporting passenger and commercial (mainly slaughter houses) rail cars and locomotives. When I was a kid, steam was still the main thing used. There was an old country western song with the line something to the effect that if you were chased by the law, you should run to the roundhouse because they couldn't corner you there. :D

I didn't know of this in Roanoke. I will have to try to get to see it. Thanks for posting these interesting photos.

12-08-2011, 19:32
[quote=oftheherd;1764582]There was an old country western song with the line something to the effect that if you were chased by the law, you should run to the roundhouse because they couldn't corner you there. :D

The New Mexico state capital building is round and called the Round House. The story goes it was built round for the politicians couldn't hide in the corners and make deals.

12-08-2011, 19:47
Really nice pictures, thanks for posting!