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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 106 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 106

(By Delegates Walters, Andes, Craig, Smith, R., Moye, Faircloth, Cadle, Nelson, E., Sobonya, Mr. Speaker (Mr. Thompson), Ambler, Anderson, Armstead, Arvon, Ashley, Azinger, Barill, Barrett, Boggs, Border, Butler, Campbell, Canterbury, Caputo, Cooper, Diserio, Eldridge, Ellem, Ellington, Espinosa, Evans, A., Evans, D., Ferns, Ferro, Fleischauer, Folk, Frich, Gearheart, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hamrick, Hartman, Householder, Hunt, Iaquinta, Ireland, Jones, Kump, Lane, Lawrence, Longstreth, Lynch, Manchin, Marcum, Marshall, Miley, Miller, Moore, Morgan, Nelson, J., O'Neal, Overington, Pasdon, Paxton, Perdue, Pethtel, Phillips, L., Phillips, R., Pino, Poling, D., Poling, M., Poore, Raines, Reynolds, Romine, Rowan, Shott, Skaff, Skinner, Smith, P., Sponaugle, Staggers, Stephens, Storch, Stowers, Sumner, Swartzmiller, Tomblin, Walker, Wells, Westfall, White, Williams and Young)


 

Requesting the Division of Highways to place and maintain markers at a trail of specific sites in West Virginia representing the locations photographed by O. Winston Link to highlight and celebrate the Norfolk and Western Railroad steam engine heritage in West Virginia and to name the trail of sites the “O. Winston Link Trail”.

    Whereas, In the early 1890’s, the Norfolk and Western Railroad (“N&W”) started its most ambitious project, a 191-mile route of wood and steel, winding its way through the wilds of West Virginia and involving fifteen contractors, five thousand men and a multitude of mules, oxen and horses; and

    Whereas, On September 22, 1892, the one hundred ninety one- mile route, which began at two ends, one at Bluefield and, the other, at Kenova along the Ohio River, was joined at 4 o’clock p.m. near Hatfield, West Virginia; and

    Whereas, Several members of the Hatfield family held timber contracts to supply crossties for the N&W’s roadbed on the southern tracks of the one hundred ninety one-mile route which was joined near Hatfield; and

    Whereas, With the opening of this rail line, N&W turned its energies to developing coal traffic; and

    Whereas, Hauling coal was one of Norfolk & Western’s main jobs and, quoting from the text of a book containing photographs of O. Winston Link, “It has been said that Norfolk & Western could abandon every mile of track except for that between Bluefield and Kenova and still turn a profit”; and

    Whereas, Since coal is such a heavy commodity, the main lines laid in West Virginia were much heavier than the industry average containing fifteen inches of limestone with rail weighing one hundred thirty-one pounds per yard in that anything less, when transporting West Virginia coal, wouldn’t wear on the curves; and

    Whereas, Norfolk & Western also ran passenger trains through West Virginia including one running through Welch, the finest of N&W’s passenger fleet, recognized by many as “America’s Finest Train”, named the Powhatan Arrow, known locally as the “Powtan”; and

    Whereas, Generations of West Virginia families and entire West Virginia families worked for the Norfolk and Western Railroad including, for example, six brothers of Peterstown, West Virginia, the “Spangler Brothers”; and

    Whereas, The Norfolk & Western was much more than just a railroad in the coal camps of West Virginia but were part and parcel of daily lives, as much a part of day-to-day life as saying grace, “I hear Number Four blowin’, girls. Better finish your breakfast, and get on off to school”; and

    Whereas, Unspoken communication existed between train crews and those who lived along the tracks in the hills of West Virginia, whether it be a wave from a friendly engineer or two flicks of a porch light answered by a playful whistle; and

    Whereas, West Virginians and train crews took care of each other; and

    Whereas, Train crews left lineside phone boxes unlocked so that inhabitants of isolated areas would have access to communication in emergencies; and

    Whereas, Appalachians residing by tracks alerted the train crews to unnoticed problems on the train: a rubbing of hands to communicate a stuck brake, a holding of the nose to alert to a hot box; and

    Whereas, Norfolk & Western was a good neighbor in the region it served which included, in addition to West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, N. Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio, promoting the area as “The Land of Plenty” with huge potential for industry and growth; and

    Whereas, In most counties along its route, the Norfolk & Western was the largest taxpayer; and

    Whereas, Prior to the N&W, Bluefield was an azure-flowered meadow and Williamson, a patch of corn; and

    Whereas, During the Norfolk & Western’s steam engine history in West Virginia, the railways maintained the largest coal mashalling yards in the world, a roundhouse and supporting shop facilities at Williamson, West Virginia, described in the book containing O. Winston Link’s photographs as “Williamson. Dirty, filthy, gritty, Norfolk & Western born and bred, Williamson. Now there was a railroad town.”; and

    Whereas, In Williamson, a railroader received as much respect as a judge, minister or doctor; and

    Whereas, In 1949, N&W bore seven thousand fifty two feet through Elkhorn Mountain, in Hardy County, West Virginia, which was, at the time, the longest double track tunnel in the world; and

    Whereas, Photographer O. Winston Link developed a passion for the rail road and, specifically, for the steam engine powered locomotive which, by the late 1950’s, was rapidly disappearing from the American scene; the days of using fire and heat water as a method of moving trains was quickly coming to a close; and

    Whereas, In the mid-1950’s, O. Winston Link met with the President of Norfolk & Western, R. H. Smith, for final approval of a photography project that would capture the nocturnal drama of steam railroading; and

    Whereas, O. Winston Link rode vestibules of trains all over the railroad, plotting locations and taking notes, knowing that time was of the essence for the last stronghold of steam power, southern West Virginia, was about to receive its first diesels; and

    Whereas, O. Winston Link memorialized, in his photography, several sites in West Virginia where the steam powered railroad cars once traveled frequently; and

    Whereas, The sites memorialized by O. Winston Link include the Swimming Pool at Camp Joy at Ada, West Virginia; the Locomotive Facility at Bluefield, West Virginia; Mainstreet at North Fork, West Virginia; the Drive-In at Iaeger, West Virginia; the Station at Panther, West Virginia; the Swimming Pool at Welch, West Virginia; the Cavalier Leaving Town at Williamson, West Virginia; the Mingo Tunnel at Williamson, West Virginia; the Massey Mine at Gilbert, West Virginia; and the Pigeon Creek Shifter at Kermit, West Virginia; and

    Whereas, In light of Norfolk & Western’s significant contributions to West Virginia and O. Winston Link’s passionate, skillful and dedicated acts to preserve this history which looms large in West Virginia’s progress, it is fitting that a trailway of sites photographed of the great steam engine stations and sites be marked, identified and collectively called the O. Winston Link Trail; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That there is hereby established the O. Winston Link Trail, a heritage trail of sites photographed by O. Winston Link, to highlight and celebrate West Virginia’s railroad heritage; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the O. Winston Link Trail consist of the following sites: Swimming Pool at Camp Joy at Ada, West Virginia; the Locomotive Facility at Bluefield, West Virginia; Mainstreet at North Fork, West Virginia; the Drive-In at Iaeger, West Virginia; the Station at Panther, West Virginia; the Swimming Pool at Welch, West Virginia; the Cavalier Leaving Town at Williamson, West Virginia; the Mingo Tunnel at Williamson, West Virginia; the Massey Mine at Gilbert, West Virginia; and the Pigeon Creek Shifter at Kermit, West Virginia; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Division of Highways is requested to place and maintain appropriate markers directing travelers to each of these sites; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Division of Highways will place signs, in bold and prominent lettering, at both the beginnings and ends of the trail, the “O. Winston Link Trail”; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this resolution to the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and a copy to the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia.

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