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 Post subject: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8396
Location: Baltimore, MD
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbzAJoW34DM

[notes below from YouTube post with corrections/additions made by me]

"Train 42 'The Pelican' headed by N&W 4-8-4 Class J 603 arrives at Rural Retreat, VA eastbound from New Orleans to Washington shortly before 10pm Dec. 27th, 1957, and thunders off into the night. The Norfolk & Western Railway's own Class J was perhaps the finest of all express steam engines, and 603 is heard here in its last days of main line service with a consist of 17 cars. The photograph is of Train 17 'The Birmingham Special' westbound arriving later that same night at 11.37pm, being waved through by Agent J.L. Akers. The photograph and sound recording were by O. Winston Link and his assistant Corky Zider who operated a Tapesonic recorder and non-directional microphone; chimes were played specially for the recording at the nearby Grace Lutheran Church by Mrs. Kathryn Dodson. Seven nights later, steam motive power would come to an end on the N&W main line through Rural Retreat and Bristol."

Alternate recording, with different photo of an eastbound and possibly of better audio quality:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdWl4ur6hMM

NPR interview with Mrs. Dodson in 2001:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqRwIKJYPLA

The station still stands in 2010, albeit in poor condition:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/25703516

Crank up the speakers..................


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:52 pm
Posts: 515
Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota
The recording is very evocative and brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing. Being a Rhode Island boy I never heard main line steam. But I wished I could have seen and heard those big locos in regular service.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:51 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:49 am
Posts: 635
I'm glad people caught on to that link...it is absolutely beautiful! Now if I can just find the record whee the rest of the goodies are...


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:45 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:41 pm
Posts: 58
Location: Salisbury, NC
I just sat down to the computer to listen to that recording and while it was playing, pulled up RYPN to see what was new. Thanks for reminding everyone of a classic, ADM. I have listened to it every Christmas Eve for the past couple of years.

Highballer, the Link Museum offers a 5 CD collection of Link's recordings that I highly recommend if you are interested. I am a little biased being a N&W guy, but for those interested in steam, they are very good recordings.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2444
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
I purchased the 5 volume set of recordings during my visit to the Link Museum in November. The set is worth it.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:14 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 1:45 pm
Posts: 186
Location: Northern Virginia
Thanks for posting this so accurately. Many still believe than the recording was made 12/24/57, but it was actually 12/27/57. Link was in rural Retreat 12/24, but didn't like the results he got. He returned three days later and made probably the most famous steam railroading recording of all time. Link's field notes contain the sequence of events and dates, so none of this is hearsay. However, there were two versions published. The sequence on the original Fading Giant LP back in 1958 was about 6:20 long. The later single CD of the Fading Giant (ca 1995) was about 11:40 long, with longer approach and departing sections. Fortunately, the currently available CD Box Set includes the longer version.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5022
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
The station still stands in 2010, albeit in poor condition:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/25703516



I liked the recording, and the photos. But I also like the Rural Retreat train depot. I am not sure what it is currently used for, if anything. But it IS a very distinctive depot. And it certainly has ties to the N&W steam era...and to O. Winston Link himself. From the overhead view, it looks as if Rural Retreat is large enough of a place to be able to preserve the station. Hope that there are plans to do so, if it hasn't already been done.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8396
Location: Baltimore, MD
Les Beckman wrote:
I liked the recording, and the photos. But I also like the Rural Retreat train depot. I am not sure what it is currently used for, if anything. But it IS a very distinctive depot. And it certainly has ties to the N&W steam era...and to O. Winston Link himself. From the overhead view, it looks as if Rural Retreat is large enough of a place to be able to preserve the station. Hope that there are plans to do so, if it hasn't already been done.


The story I found on a few rudimentary internet searches is that the depot is currently privately owned and the mysterious current owner has rebuffed local efforts to acquire the station for local preservation (which would involve moving it away from the tracks). Note in some Google Maps Street View angles that there is a former N&W caboose sitting "across the parking lot" from the station.


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:57 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2169
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Rural Retreat, Va., looking westbound, August 2009.
Attachment:
2009 RR sta DSC_2097.JPG
2009 RR sta DSC_2097.JPG [ 51.61 KiB | Viewed 6229 times ]

November 2010:
Attachment:
2010 RR Va 1 DSC_7945.JPG
2010 RR Va 1 DSC_7945.JPG [ 56.28 KiB | Viewed 6229 times ]


The backhoe and trailer had been used a few day previous for a grade crossing replacement project.
Attachment:
2010 RR Va 2 DSC_7946.JPG
2010 RR Va 2 DSC_7946.JPG [ 54.21 KiB | Viewed 6229 times ]


The caboose is in good condition, looks like it was repainted in the last year or so.

These were taken during recent trips to visit family members in North Carolina; Rural Retreat is about a 45-minute detour off the regular route I take. Driving on I-81 and looking at the exit sign town names is like reading a shot list of Link's images: Max Meadows, Grottoes, Natural Bridge, Rural Retreat, Vesuvius, etc.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: More Rural Retreat
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2169
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
More images from November 2010:
Attachment:
2010 RR Va 4 DSC_7965.JPG
2010 RR Va 4 DSC_7965.JPG [ 63.14 KiB | Viewed 6226 times ]
Attachment:
2010 RR Va 5 DSC_7976.JPG
2010 RR Va 5 DSC_7976.JPG [ 63.21 KiB | Viewed 6226 times ]


The church is on a hill south of the "downtown"; the crossing in the foreground is the last one the J blows for before passing the microphones.

There are two active feed mills east of the crossing; one, about 1/2 mile east of the station had two or more tracks and over 20 cars in it.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 11:38 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I too have to concur, the Link recordings are absolutely wonderful, evoking everything that made steam operations so satisfying for the train watcher (if not for the management!) I am fortunate enough to have acquired a full set some time back--on vinyl, of course! They, and some classic books (such as "The General Manager's Story" by Herbert Hamblen) were the inspiration to attempt a television series about railroaders, set on an unnamed railroad that looked like the C&O (complete with Alleghenies and Greenbiars) but sounded like the N&W!

Unfortunately, I couldn't sell it to save my soul. . .


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:08 am
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Well that is interesting to note…O Winston Link spent a number of days at the site to achieve the recording, and it actually took place on the 27th. I had this romantic notion of loud Christmas revellers homeward bound onboard the Pelican, oblivious to the contrasting silent darkness of Rural Retreat. It’s hardly disappointing though, since it’s still a truly evocative recording

A documentary was made on the subject of Link on Channel 4 TV in the UK sometime in the late 80’s, during which he played us the Rural Retreat recording from his vinyl LP. I vowed to search out this wonderfully eccentric recording- I never found the LP- and had to wait almost another 10 years before I could get my hands on it in this country. I wonder if the original LP gave the date as the 24th, as does the CD reissue.

I can imagine he kept a detailed diary of exact times and locations- maybe information exists of the actual sound recording setup he & his assistant used. This probably means a very long trip to the museum for me one day

Good to see the church has been extended and seems to have a new roof...

Mike (the original Youtube poster)


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5022
Well, here is some great news! According to a new note in FLIMSIES, it seems that a gentleman by the name of Scott Mecimore has been instrumental in founding the Rural Retreat Depot Foundation and a deal has been worked out with Norfolk Southern so that the Rural Retreat depot, originally built in 1866 and made famous in recordings and photographs of O. Winston Link, will be preserved and restored.

Well done!

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:07 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
"Wonderful recording."--Jeff Lisowski

Wonderful indeed, and bittersweet for me--it reminds me of how I--perhaps we--live in the wrong time. . .

Ross Rowland, responding to me making that same comment about big steam, said we don't get make-overs and do-overs in life, and we should be grateful for what we have--and that's true. Still, even he admitted he wished he was born 20 or more years earlier, to see more of his beloved steam engines in service.

And I have to wonder even now--what might it have been like to visit Lima, and see that first Allegheny, still smelling like fresh paint, walking around her, then, later, taking a stroll upstairs and running into Will Woodard, and perhaps successor Bert Townsend?

What would it have been like to go trackside as the B&O's Old Maude came up Sand Patch? Or to go back further on the same road to watch Winans Camels on Seventeen Mile?

Where is Mr. Peabody and his WABAC (pronounced "wayback") machine?


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 Post subject: Re: Christmas Eve listening
PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:30 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:56 am
Posts: 1330
Location: Roanoke Va.
J3a-614 wrote:


Where is Mr. Peabody and his WABAC (pronounced "wayback") machine?



At present, I think Chattanooga

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