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Photo of the Month - July 2007
It all started with the “0” Gauge Model Railway Club that met at the Columbus Union Station. It met every Wednesday evening in one of the Union Station Arcade shops located on the eastside of High Street. After the club meeting ended for the evening the fellows would head across the street to the American Restaurant for pie and coffee. Then it was down to Track 5 to watch the Norfolk & Western's 11:10p.m. departure of the Pocahontas for Norfolk, Va before heading home.
Next to the cigar store, another arcade shop facing on High Street, was a door that led through a dirty hallway to the back of the arcade building where there was another door leading to stairs going down to Track 3. This way we could bypass the station waiting room and get directly to the platforms. Besides, this is how the real railroaders went to work or more likely made a quick trip to the cigar stand.
Throughout 1958 everyone knew that the last steam powered passenger train in Columbus would soon become diesel. We started our long goodbye occasionally riding the train to Circleville with each of us taking a turn at being the designated driver to haul the group back to Columbus. The conductor was never very happy to see us, I think he was accustomed to having an empty train as he worked toward his imminent retirement after 50 plus years on the N&W. Besides we wanted to ride in the vestibule and open the Dutch door so we could hear the steam engine better. That was NOT ALLOWED! Some of the fellows worked very hard to win him over and we did eventually get a little slack, but that Dutch door stayed closed.
The next break through was when someone got the idea they could get four fellows with flash cameras and do a count down, click simultaneously and get a night shot of the engine. Sort of O. Winston Link style, on the cheap. The first time they tried it they neglected to tell the crew what they were up to and the poor engineer thought he’d had the big one. Once the crew understood what was going on they were pretty helpful as this photo shows.
It was a little unusual to see a class J, 4-8-4 on this run. Train #34 was combined with the Cincinnati Pocahontas at Portsmouth into Train #4 for the trip to Norfolk. The Columbus leg usually had a class K1 or K2, 4-8-2. A big class J like #601 was a treat.
Train #33 the westbound Pocahontas arrived in Columbus at 7:30a.m. The cars were taken to the PRR's Spruce Street coach yard and the locomotive went to the N&W's Joyce Avenue round house for servicing. Joyce Avenue was always a good place for a little railfan picture taking. In the late evening cars and locomotive were brought together again for the trip south. Great fun while it lasted.