Norris Deyerle et. al.

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“Railcow” -   Norris Deyerle, Ray Beard & Ed Burnett


Ray Beard and Ed Burnett are two former Blue Ridge Chapter members that welcomed me into the BRC when I first started going to the BRC meetings.  I already knew Ed from another mutual friend, but Ed introduced me to Ray.  We started chasing trains together on a regular basis.  They both showed me quite a few hot spots along the line.  They also taught me about the history of the local railroads.  During the days of the Norfolk Southern Steam Excursions my interest peaked.  I contacted both of them this past week to ask them who “christened” me “Railcow”.... 

....Ray thought Ed did and Ed thought Ray did. Ha! Anyway, one morning we started chasing the N&W A #1218 at High Bridge in Farmville, Va.  Before the 1218 got there I had to take a photo of Ed relieving himself in brush invested with mosquitoes!  Ray and I laughed so hard that we almost fell down when Ed came out scratching all over.  As I recall, he had on shorts and a t-shirt.  After photographing her coming across High Bridge we continued to chase her towards Roanoke.  I thought that we were waiting for the train at Phoebe when I got board and starting “mooing” at a herd of cows nearby.  As Ed puts it, “I remember when you went into the bushes to get a better look at something {or maybe relieve yourself} and as you came back out to the tracks Ray and I cracked up because we could only see the brush moving and not you, in fact it was a lot of brush, moving a whole lot!  Probably because of the proximity of the herd of bovine, I said it looked like a cow coming out of the bushes.  And Ray said “more like a “Rail Cow” or something like that. And just like that a legend was born!”  I’m sure my large build and my mooing added fuel to their fire!

That was many years ago and the exact details are a little foggy.  I had to laugh at their recollections. To sum up what I think is correct, I’ll make the following observation.  “We” were in Virginia near cows.  I was bored because the excursion train was so late.  When the cows would moo, I would moo back.  This went on for quite awhile!  Eventually an old black N&W steam engine numbered 1218 that was built in the N&W Roanoke Shops came by pulling a set of tuscan red passenger cars. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it till I remember it a different way!  Ha!

Do you know what the most important thing about this entire “railfanning” story is?  It wasn’t the train or the place that I’m 100% sure of.  What I am sure of is that I miss the times that I was with Ray and Ed.  Now that my eyes are watering, I’ll end the story of one of my favorite memories of being in the Blue Ridge Chapter, NRHS.