Tag Archive | Norfolk & Western Railroad

Remembering Another Fine Railroader – Cousin Richard McHaffa

Cousin Richard was one of the most pleasant relatives that I remember. He was kind and encouraging to me and complimentary of my children. I loved his smile. Richard seemed more like an uncle, rather than a cousin since he lived many years with the Buckland boys at Falls Mills, having lost his parents at a young age.  My paternal grandmother, Mary Jane Davidson Buckland and his mother, Nannie Crockett Davidson McHaffa were sisters. Richard would have been 89 today and we still think of him often. And yes, he was a railroader, as was his father. Richard had a 42-year career as a Locomotive Engineer with the Norfolk and Western and Norfolk and Southern Railroad.2012-08-15 06.51.09

September 27, 1924 – August 13, 2012

 McHAFFA Richard 1942 GHS football McHAFFA Richard Graham Class of 1942 McHaffa Richard military MC HAFFA Richard_McHaffa

Richard played football at Graham High School and served his country in the military. He married Jessie Odom on October 4, 1950 in Falls Mills, Virginia. They had three children and for as long as I can remember, they lived out Hwy 52 in Bluefield, WV.

McHaffa Richard Bday 86 - 2010  MCHAFFA Richard 87 in 2011

MCHAFFA, NATHANIEL RICHARD – 87, passed into the arms of his Savior on Monday morning, August 13, 2012, after a short illness. He was a resident of Trinity Hills Senior Living, Knoxville TN, since November of 2011, having moved from Bluefield, WV. Awaiting him were his wife of over 50 years, Jessie Odom McHaffa; his parents Nathaniel Ezra and Nannie Crockett Davidson McHaffa; his brother, Charles Hiram McHaffa, and his sister, Mary Ruth Rutherford, as well as cousins with whom he was raised. He is survived by son, Richard and wife, Debbie of Stuarts Draft, VA; son Michael and wife Debbie of Bluefield, VA; and daughter Eva Pierce and husband, Les of Knoxville, TN; grandchildren Libbie (Tony), Steven, Kristin (Micah), Evan (Sara), and Lance; also 5 great-grandchildren, extended family and friends. Mr. McHaffa was born on September 27, 1924 in Williamson, WV. He was a football letterman and graduate of Graham High School. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, stationed in Puerto Rico and Trinidad. He worked briefly as a Surveyor for the Virginia Highway Department, before beginning a 42-year career as a Locomotive Engineer with the Norfolk and Western and Norfolk and Southern Railroad. He was a longtime member of the American Legion, Riley Vest Post. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, high school and college football. Receiving of friends will be held from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Wednesday evening, August 15th, at Centerpointe Baptist Church, 2909 North Broadway, Knoxville, TN, with a Celebration of Life to follow. Visitation will be held at Craven-Shires Funeral Home, Bluefield, WV, Thursday, August 16th from 6:00-8:00. A funeral service will take place Friday, August 17th at 1:00 p.m., with entombment to follow at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bluefield, WV. Family and friends will serve as pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, Mr. McHaffa requested that memorials be made to A Hand Up for Women, P.O. Box 3216, Knoxville, TN 37927.

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Women Trapped on Rail Trestle at Wittens Mill

June 13, 1931

As I recollect the story as it has been passed down, Grandmaw Altha Davis and *Aunt Jo  were picking berries along the railway near Wittens Mill in Tazewell County, VA (just off Route 460 between Tazewell and Bluefield). It is my understanding that they were crossing the trestle to get to the other side when a train came round the curve on the mainline and over the trestle – catching the two women. Grandmaw’s big toe  was cut off and she was tossed off the trestle but landed on a bail of wire that cushioned her fall. Aunt Jo was fowled beneath the locomotive which resulted in a broken coccyx but no other serous injuries.

I remember Grandmaw showing me her big toe. It was just the top of her big toe that was cut off, but I can’t image being in that difficult and frightening predicament.

The story always amazed me because this same family of Asa Davis (Norfolk & Western Maintenance of Way Foreman) who moved their entire household in a box car from Russell County to Tazewell County obviously knew the dangers on the rails. Why anyone would walk a trestle is beyond me.

Fortunately, by God’s grace, the two recovered to pick berries another day.

trestle

Mrs. A.C. Davis and Daughter, Mrs. Forrest Mace, Seriously Injured
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Mrs. Mace is Fouled Beneath Locomotive While Mother is Tossed Bodily From Structure; Victims Are Patients In Bluefield Hospital
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Trapped by a locomotive as they were crossing the Norfork and Western railroad….

Altha

The white cabinet now sits in Mom’s house, but was originally her grandmother’s,  Nancy C. “Nannie” (Jessee) Davis.

MACE NF and Joella

* Aunt Jo Ella (Davis) Mace with Uncle Forrest Mace

Railroad Payday, the Call Office and Train Order Hoops

I’m one of those people who just can’t throw away anything with a family memory attached, and we have a garage and attic full of junk to prove it. If you’d ask my husband (CSX Engineer), he’d confirm the fact that the old primitive items, handed down or salvaged by me, are my most prized possessions.

The wooden lock box below is one such treasure. At a point in time before direct deposit, people who worked received real paper checks on “payday“. And if you were like most of us who grew up in the mountains of Virginia & West Virginia, your family lived from payday to payday. The Norfolk & Western Railroad paid-off on the 1st and 15th of each month.

The “call office” on the northside of Bluefield was where the crews were called to work, reported for work and signed off when they finished work. Inside the dusty old homemade box are slots or shelves which held the coveted paychecks in alphabetical order. Notice the letters scratched inside. The crew clerks held the checks under lock and key as the employees stopped in, a crew at a time, to pick up their checks. The railroad has been our bread & butter my whole life – even before me – and for our children too.

The box itself is probably worthless, but it meant enough to my dad that when it was replaced with a more modern system, he came home with the box and stashed it in the basement.

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Dad was known for bringing home the strangest items from the railroad, usually something that would otherwise be thrown away. The iron finial below is one such piece that he had lying around the backyard for years. So heavy that I can hardly move it, I somehow managed to get it in my van and bring it back to Florida and place it among the flowers.  As a railroader’s daughter, and as a railroad clerk operator myself, I’m familiar with many of these antiquities once used on the railroad. This particular piece is the top of a semaphore board or signal board. define 2013-07-19 19.51.15

Train Order Operators would leverage the signal board (below left) from inside the depot to signal the crew. The image (below right) is a V-shaped Train Order hoop.

I actually own such a V-hoop and still have a yellow tissue copy of the first train order that I ever wrote. I have personally set the signal, written the train orders issued by dispatcher and handed up the train orders to crews as their train flew past me. I have stood apprehensively along side the mainline and held the hoop high and still.  As the engines roared by the train order office, a crew member reached his arm out the window and through the hoop. The simple design allowed the twine loop holding the orders to easily slip away from the hoop.

Ditto for the cab crew.

Train Order

Old time railroading is fascinating. If you like it, please follow the blog and my Facebook page.

See more about Train Orders here

hooping_up3          Limon6_27_2005_019

Train orders were of two types: “31’s,” which had to be signed for by a member of the train crew, and “19’s,” which did not. The former were employed when the dispatcher needed to know that the affected train actually had the order, while the latter were used when he did not.

Train-order forms themselves came in pads printed on a thin onion skin paper, or “flimsy,” which enabled crews to read them over the light of a firebox or against a kerosene lantern.source

The Engineman’s Tallow Pot

Before the widespread use of petroleum oils in the late nineteenth century, tallow — animal fat — was a useful lubricant for steam locomotives. Firemen and engineers used tallow pots to lubricate the cylinders of moving locomotives.   source

This tallow pot belonged to dad, Larkin Watson Buckland, Jr. and he used it during his days on the steam engines working both as a fireman and then an engineer on the Norfolk & Western.

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The oil can below belonged to my grandfather, L.W. Buckland, SR who was also a fireman, then engineer.

lwsr oil can

See how they used the oil can on a steam engine. This photo taken from (source)rail_str_0260_01

The Modern Railroad (1911)

remembering the railroader on Father’s Day

Here’s wishing all the railroad Dad’s and all fathers a very Happy Father’s Day! On this day, I remember my own father.

Larkin Watson Buckland, known to most as “Buddy” was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, Mercer County (10-8-1915) and resided his early years at 1505 Highland Avenue.  He retired from the Norfolk and Western Railroad (1-24-1980) as an engineer after 40 years of service. Beginning his railroading career by hauling Troup Trains during World War II on Pennsylvania Railroad (10-12-1940), Dad later transferred to his beloved Norfolk & Western (12-3-1942). He was previously a coal miner;  a barber, attending Kel-Roe Barber College on High Street in Columbus, Ohio.

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BUCKLAND LW jr RR

Dad’s mother,  Mary Jane Davidson said that L.W.Sr.’s name was Larkin Watson “Haynes” Buckland.  Thus, she passed the name on to one of Dad’s twin sisters, “Margrette Haynes Buckland”  and then to Larkin Watson Haynes Buckland, Jr. and subsequently to a grandson “Ellis Haynes”. The Haynes name was dropped, but Larkin has a namesake in his great-grandson William Larkin who was born on Dad’s birthday!
BUCKLAND LW JR Age 19    BUCKLAND LW Jr Buddy 1   BUCKLAND School Boy Buddy

Dad (1) Age 19
(2) at Barber School in Columbus, OH
(3) in an elementary school group picture