Monday, May 23, 2005

On This Day - Norfolk and Western History

23 May 1969 - Two of the Norfolk and Western Railway's named passenger trains, the flagship Powhatan Arrow and the Cavalier, made their last runs. I don't have my book on N&W passenger service handy, but off the cuff, I recall that the Arrow (Winston Link's favorite N&W passenger train, apparently) was combined with the Pocahontas, which was arguably the N&W's next best train. If memory serves, the "new" Pocahontas sported a Pullman-Standard Vista-Dome car, taken from the former Wabash Railroad's Blue Bird trainsets. Even though the new Pocahontas would survive into 1971, its route would not be picked up by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and thus went into permanent retirement. The Cavalier was notable for having its own logo, a fellow in a large hat with a Van Dyke beard. According to Kenneth L. Miller, people today would recognize it as the basic image used by the University of Virginia's Cavaliers sports teams. (One wonders if the people in C-ville paid the N&W, or if they just assumed that they, as Mr. Jefferson's University, were entitled to it.) From a reading of Norfolk and Western Passenger Service 1946-1971, the Cavalier was never particularly a crack train with the best equipment. Amusing. I could be wrong on anything other than the date and trains affected; blame a combination of Kenneth L. Miller and my shoddy memory if something turns up wrong. Primary information for this post was gathered from the 2005 color calendar published by the Norfolk and Western Historical Society.

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