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Salem Museum Speaker Series Presents Roanoke’s Railroad and The War

Transportation of troops and equipment by rail was crucial to the success of the United States’ military efforts in World War II. In this talk, Col. Lewis “Bud” Jeffries will describe what Roanoke’s railroad—the Norfolk & Western Railway—accomplished during this very important period of American history. The talk will be presented on Thursday, May 12 at 7 pm, in person at the Salem Museum, with a virtual option.

The Norfolk & Western Railway, headquartered in Roanoke, achieved extraordinary performance in support of America’s war efforts during World War II. The N&W was probably the best prepared U.S. railroad going into this conflict, but the N&W was not alone in this effort. U.S. railroads cooperated to support the nation during this crisis and world conflict.

The N&W, and all U.S. railroads, rose to meet the demands placed on them by the war effort. This presentation covers what railroads in general, and the N&W in particular, did to meet the transportation needs of wartime industry, moving large numbers of military personnel and equipment in spite of the disruption of traffic flows, and the need to adapt to changing demands.

As a young boy growing up in Radford, Virginia, Jeffries spent hours watching Norfolk & Western trains thunder past. He left Radford for a career in the United States Army, rising to the rank of colonel, but his fascination with the Norfolk & Western Railway has never ended. He is the author of N&W Giants of Steam, which is regarded as the encyclopedia of N&W steam locomotive design, engineering and tractive power. Jeffries is a longtime member of the Norfolk & Western Historical Society and the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Masks are optional but recommended in a group setting; precautionary measures will be subject to CDC guidelines in place at the time. Mask requirements, if any, and links to the virtual option will be listed on the Museum’s website,, on the morning of the talk.

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