Park Street Tower
the O. Winston Link Museum
the Virginia Museum of Transportation
the ex N&W shops
GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 540
Access by train/transit:
Amtrak Northeast Regional
This page of the Roanoke guide covers the downtown area, which
includes the Park Street Tower, the O. Winston Link Museum, the Virginia
Museum of Transportation, and Railroad Walk along Norfolk Ave and the old
N&W mainline, and the ex N&W shops.
Amtrak started serving Roanoke again on October 31st, 2017.
Erica Yoon, Roanoke Times
Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
From Abram Burnett, who used to work for the N&W back in
the "good ole days" come a couple of pictures he took back in the 70's.
The first picture was taken at night in 1973 besides the
Park Street switchtenders box, looking west. The picture was taken
with a Leica M-2 and a 50mm Sumicron lens He used Panatomic-X film,
and used Accufine developer. Abram's grandfather started working here
in 1906, when a 2-8-0 was a big engine!
The second picture is from July 13th, 1975, the day after
the departing train put nine hoppers on the ground. This was at the
east end of the Roanoke Classification Yard. Notice the open
A few pictures from the backside of the museum, including 1218, a Pennsy GG1, and a PCC car.
Railwalk is perhaps the nicest tribute to railroads I
have seen anyone do, and it involved the city, Norfolk Southern, and the
NRHS among others. There are several interactive displays, including a
crossing gate, a locomotive horn, and the signals. They kindly placed
a "bump-out" with a hole in the fence so that we railfans can photograph
eastbound freights without obstruction!
I don't know what it looks like since we now have a working Amtrak station.
1st St Bridge
There are more pictures of the bridge with the signals mounted on it on the N&W CPL page.
O Winston Link Museum
This museum houses the fantastic collection of one of
the more famous railroad photographers of the 50's and 60's. A shop in
New Mexico has one of his original prints for $15K, printed by Mr. Link
himself. Mr. Link was not a "railfan" per se, but was driven by the
interplay between steam engines and their environment. He also
developed a passion for nighttime photography, and his results are nothing
short of fantastic.
Winston Link was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914, the
son of a school teacher. Early on, Link showed an aptitude for technology,
and his father, a demanding man but a good instructor introduced him to a
variety of options. The elder Link trained his son to handle tools well and
encouraged his interest in photography. It was at this time that he also
developed an interest in steam railroading which was to remain with him for
life. Link attended the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he was a
good student and a popular one, being particularly well known for his
practical jokes. He graduated in 1937 with a degree in civil engineering,
but photography was to claim him before engineering could.
Engineering jobs were scarce in Depression America, but
Link was offered a position as photographer for a large public relations
firm. His job was to make photos for his clients which were submitted for
free use in newspapers and magazines. The photos had to carry the clients'
messages, and do it with such cleverness and wit, or be so unusual, that
photo editors couldn't resist using them. In this job he learned to use
people to animate his pictures, and how to give them both compositional
"punch" and the vivacity editors wanted.
With the onset of World War II, Link used both his
engineering and photographic skills as a photographer and researcher for a
secret military project, designing and building devices to detect submerged
enemy submarines from airplanes flying overhead. The research laboratory was
located in Long Island, adjacent to the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road
which was powered by steam at that port. Link renewed an interest in steam
locomotives and railroads that had been all but dormant for some years,
and began to photograph them.
In 1946, with the end of the war, he chose to become an
independent, free lance photographer and opened his own photographic studio,
first in Brooklyn and later in Manhattan. His clients included many major
American companies and leading advertising agencies who called him when they
needed a photographer with a knowledge of large cameras and complex lighting
setups. It was during this, from January, 1955 to March, 1960, that he
created the documentation of the last years of steam railroading on the
Norfolk & Western Railway. He retired from active practice in 1983, and now
lives in Westchester County, New York.
Winston Link's photographs of the Norfolk & Western
Railway are documented in two books, Steam, Steel and Stars, 1987, with text
by Tim Hensley, and The Last Steam Railroad in America, 1995, with text by
Thomas H. Carver. Both are published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, and
both are in print.
The downtown area of Roanoke is littered with N&W CPL
signals everywhere you look, although Norfolk Southern has been slowly
replacing them on an as needed basis. The signals on the cantilever
bridge next to 1st street used to be mounted on the overpass, and a CPL at
location 2 was replaced sometime since 1993. For more pictures of N&W
CPL pictures, additional pictures of the locations on this map, and the
stuff from 1993, check out:
South leg of the Wye
East leg of the Wye
Along Campbell Ave, south side of the shops
West leg of the Wye
Along Norfolk Ave and Railwalk
Location 5 is a catch all for the many signals located along this short stretch along Norfolk Ave.