Meet Frank Haley

Frank Haley
Frank Haley

Frank David Haley was born near Pittsville in July, 1872 and moved to Gretna where he lived near the railroad yard and worked on both the Southern RR and the F&P RR.

He was a laborer with a section gang that walked the tracks making repairs or working the yard helping switch the cars.

Fortunately for him and the other workers by 1888 the gauge of the track on the Pittsville and F&P track had been converted to standard gauge to match the main line. The yard workers no longer had to switch the trucks on the cars when going from one gauge to another.

Frank was killed in 1906 in an accident near Glad Hill when he fell between some cars. The accident was also reported as an engine mishap. From these reports it is possible he was crushed between two cars when the engine moved which was a common accident when the old pin and link coupling system was in use.

A laborer would have to go between two cars being coupled and insert a link rod by hand. This was a very dangerous method and many men were injured or killed as most railroads used the link pin system in the early days. Safety was of little concern to the business in those days. If you were hurt or killed there was someone waiting to take your place.

The 1900 census list Frank and family living in the Chatham district of Pittsylvania Co. which included Elba (Gretna). Frank was shown to be working as a railroad section hand. He had a wife, Minnie R. born May 1875 and a daughter, Dora G. born 1898. In 1903 they had another daughter, Ruth H. Shelton.

Frank lived in this house very near the yard in Elba (Gretna).
Frank lived in this house very near the yard in Elba (Gretna).
Frank’s grandson, Sammy Shelton, owns this piece of F&P track damaged in one of many wrecks on the F&P line.
Frank’s grandson, Sammy Shelton, owns this piece of F&P track damaged in one of many wrecks on the F&P line.

We invite anyone that had family working on the F&P to send us their story and a photo if available for posting on this web page.

From the Editor, January 2015

Nathan White at the Angle siding.
Nathan White at the Angle siding.

It has already been a year since this web page launched. Thanks to the efforts of Nathan White we have reached many people interested in the F&P RR through the internet. He has also added a place people can exchange information about the F&P on Facebook.

Both of these mediums are a good way of reaching the younger generation, many who have never heard of the F&P. It has also been a good way to announce upcoming trips or events and report on past happenings.

We hope all of you have enjoyed reading about the field trips, the history of the F&P and the stories of the people involved, both leaders and employees. Most of these stories have been condensed down for the web page. A more complete version is planned for a future book.

Information is still being collected. Many of you had family that worked on the F&P and this is your chance to have them remembered. Please call or e-mail us so we can record your families’ connection to the F&P. This is your chance to pass on to a younger generation the stories of our grandparents that worked on the railroad, our railroad.  or 434-332-3878

Mine Branch Trip
Due to the extreme cold weather in November we canceled the trip to explore the mine branch area. It is now planned for the last Saturday in March, the 28th, with an alternate weather date of April 4th. It is to start at 11 A.M. If you want to attend contact us by e-mail or telephone to receive a map for directions and further details. Watch the “From the Editor” column for more about this event.

Lou Revelle, Tex Carter and Nathan White fight the brush at New Town.
Lou Revelle, Tex Carter and Nathan White fight the brush at New Town.

Part of the trip to the mine branch originally was to include the other end of the branch at New Town.

If you wonder why that part was cancelled this shot of the brush we had to fight should answer your question.

There were signs of a road bed where the ore cars ran but walking the area isn’t practical.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline Co. has recently released their proposed maps of the new route they want to pursue. Their new route has the pipe line crossing Rt. 40 at its intersection with Rt. 834, Brooks Mill Rd. This is the area where the Mattox curve wreck was located. We will be following this project to see any effect it might have on this historic location.

Watch for future updates in this column or visit their web site at:

Events that Occurred in the Month of January
January 6, 1915: The Mattox Curve wreck occurred and several people were injured.
January 14, 1871: The Orange, Alexandria & Manassas Gap RR and the Lynchburg & Danville RR were authorized to consolidate into one company, the Virginia & North Carolina RR.