(Roanoke VA) - The 14th Annual African-American N&W Heritage Celebration will be held on Saturday, June 16, 2012 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. This annual event celebrates the significant and lasting impact that African-Americans have made to the railroad and to the community.


Special daytime activities at the Museum on June 16:


  • Museum visitors will enjoy a special opportunity to try their hand at a locomotive training simulator at the Museum. The simulator will be open for tours given by NS locomotive engineers from 10 am to 3 pm.
  • NS Archivist Jennifer McDaid will be on hand with a display of N&W and NS history.
  • Norfolk Southern employees with ID and their immediate families will be admitted free for the day. Regular admission applies to general Museum visitors. The Museum will be open 10 am to 5 pm.
  • The evening program features Mr. Terry N. Evans, Vice President of Operations, Planning and Budget for Norfolk Southern Corporation, who will talk about African-Americans' contributions to railroads past and present and throughout the life of the community.
  • Music will be provided by the Loudon Avenue Christian Church Male Chorus.
  • An annual scholarship will be awarded to a local Virginia Western Community College student.
  • A Silent Auction of original railroad art by Nancy Stark and framed prints of historic railroad images from the Norfolk Southern Archives will raise funds for the African-American N&W Heritage Celebration Group and Rails of Color.
  • A presentation will be made in memory of Richard Deane, Othehela Petty, and Ulysses Randolph, three members of the Celebration Group who passed away during the last year.
  • Hors d'oeuvres will be served.
  • The evening program is free to the public, but seating is limited. Please call 540.342.5670 to reserve your place.
  • The event is sponsored by the African-American N&W Heritage Celebration Group, Rails of Color, Norfolk Southern Corporation/Virginia Division, StellarOne Bank, and the Virginia Museum of Transportation.



Heritage Celebration Program, 6:30-8:30 pm:


About the African-American N&W Heritage Celebration Group

The African-American N&W Heritage Celebration Group meets monthly at the Virginia Museum of Transportation to preserve the stories and celebrate the achievements of African-Americans who worked for the Norfolk & Western Railway. One of the group's early achievements at the Museum is "African American Heritage on the Norfolk & Western 1930-1970," an exhibit which features a video of oral histories of railroad workers. William L. Withuhn, Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, described the exhibit as "the best exhibit on African-Americans on our U.S. railroads that I have seen anywhere."


About Rails of Color

African-Americans played a vital role in the early development of our railway systems, a role that continues today. In addition to African-American contributions, many Irish, Chinese, and other ethnicities participated in the building of the US rail system. Without the railroad inventions and contributions by all of these groups, today's railway system would not be as advanced as we know it today. To preserve this rich heritage and the knowledge that so many diverse groups participated in the building of the Norfolk & Western Railway, the group Rails of Color (ROC) was created in 2009.


ROC's mission is to educate, preserve, and promote NS' railroad diversity through programs and partnering with other civic groups. The group highlights the perspective of the minority employee by exploring and celebrating the past, present and future of railroad employees of color, recording their stories, efforts, successes and culture.


One of the group's main efforts is in youth development. ROC has initiated the CABOOSE After School Program for middle school students at Jackson and Breckinridge Middle Schools. ROC members tutor and mentor these students and provide activities to aid their transitions to high school and beyond.


About the Virginia Museum of Transportation

Home to two of the most powerful steam locomotives in existence today-the N&W Class A 1218 and the N&W Class J 611-the Virginia Museum of Transportation regularly attracts visitors of all ages from across the U.S. and around the world. Through exhibits, artifacts, and an outstanding collection of rail equipment, cars, trucks, airplanes, and more, the Museum tells the rich story of Virginia's transportation history.


The Virginia Museum of Transportation is the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but receives no state funding. In 2010, the Museum was named Non-Profit Arts & Culture Small Business of the Year by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Museum is located in the historic N&W Freight Station at 303 Norfolk Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24016. Open Monday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 1-5. 540/342.5670. www.vmt.org


# # #