Two regional railroad museums have artifacts acknowledged in Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Competition
From my Inbox to you:
The Virginia Rail Heritage Region announces that two of its artifacts win
top honors in the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Competition
sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums
and the Virginia Collections Institute
- Virginia Museum of Transportation’s 1923 Pullman Lake Pearl Deluxe Sleeper Car and the Alleghany Historical Society’s Chesapeake & Ohio #701 Locomotive were chosen by a panel of curators and experts due to their historical significance to Virginia and the nation.
- The Chesapeake & Ohio #701 Locomotive also earned a People’s Choice award in the public voting portion of the competition.
The Virginia Rail Heritage Region, a coalition of historical rail sites throughout Virginia, announces that two of its artifacts won top honors in the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Competition sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums and the Virginia Collections Institute.
Virginia Museum of Transportation’s 1923 Pullman Lake Pearl Deluxe Sleeper Car was chosen for its allure, beauty and historical significance. The Pullman car was a deluxe sleeper from the golden age of passenger rail travel. It was designed for multi-day travel across the country and offered luxury, comfort and status to passengers.
The Alleghany Historical Society’s Chesapeake & Ohio # 701 Locomotive, nicknamed “The Merry Widow,” was chosen for its historical significance to the region. The Merry Widow was also chosen as a “People’s Choice” in the public voting portion of the competition.
“We are thrilled that we were chosen as a Top 10 Endangered Artifact,” said Byron Faidley, Depot Attendant of the Alleghany Historical Society in Covington, Virginia. “This locomotive is the only surviving locomotive of the Hocking Valley Railway, and an important piece of Virginia history as well. It’s good to see the Merry Widow on the top of a list rather than the bottom.”
Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program raises public awareness about care of collections throughout Virginia, D.C., and beyond. Virginia’s Top 10 does not award grants. It is designed to give museums, libraries, and archives an opportunity to raise media and public awareness about the ongoing and expensive care of collections.
The Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Rail Heritage Region in 2010 to highlight and promote the rich railroad heritage in the Commonwealth. The region officially includes Alleghany, Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Campbell, and Roanoke Counties, and the Cities of Bedford, Covington, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Salem as well as towns in the region.
Historically the region was home to the largest concentration of rail facilities in the state: The famous shops of the Norfolk and Western Railway in Roanoke, the shops and yards of the Chesapeake and Ohio at Clifton Forge, the Southern Railway facilities at Monroe, and the facilities of the Virginian Railway in Roanoke. These railroads ran through the region, with the crossroads in Lynchburg. The region also contains the greatest concentration of rail heritage museums, sites, and societies.
“The Virginian Rail Heritage Region contains a wonderful concentration of rail heritage museums, sites and societies,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. “Having two artifacts nominated and then designated as two of the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts means that curators and historians understand the importance of preserving our rail heritage.”
About the 1923 Pullman Lake Pearl
Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago was founded in 1867 to build luxury sleeping cars for the railroads, their success dramatically changed rail travel worldwide. The luxuries of a Pullman included chandeliers, electric lighting, advanced heating and air-conditioning systems, complete bath facilities, silk draperies, luxury bedding and elegant furniture. The Pullman Company owned and operated all its sleeping cars until 1948 when a government anti-trust act forced Pullman to turn over ownership to the railroads.
The Pullman Lake Pearl was built in 1923 and ran on the Southern Railroad as a deluxe sleeping car. The car contains an open section with daytime seats that folded into beds and upper berth beds that folded down from above the windows. It also has two bedrooms, one drawing room, a men’s bath and a women’s bath. The car also includes steward quarters.
The Norfolk Southern Corporation donated the Lake Pearl to the Virginia Museum of Transportation on August 18, 1989.
Chesapeake & Ohio’s # 701 Locomotive – “The Merry Widow”
The 701 is a C&O G5 class, 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, consolidation class locomotive. She was built in Richmond in 1911 by the American Locomotive Company. In its first 10 years of service, the 701 traveled the rails as part of the Hocking Valley Railroad through Ohio and up to the Great Lakes.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad purchased the Hocking Valley Railroad in 1930. For the remainder of her days on the rails, the locomotive transported the Pullman cars through Covington to The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.
The locomotive was nicknamed “The Merry Widow” because she singlehandedly made the same run, day in and day out, a truly remarkable achievement for any piece of machinery. On Dec. 13, 1952, the 701 Locomotive ran the rails for the final time.