Cathleen & Mister Carter’s Room

This room once housed proprietor Hensley’s daughter Cathleen. Long before Cathleen, a dear Mister Carter lived here.

In this room boarded Walter T. Carter, a Norfolk & Western locomotive engineer who was a friend of the proprietor and lived to be 101. He was born on a farm at Ironto, Va. on June 4, 1887 and passed away in 1988. [Read the rest of Mr. Carter’s story…]

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In this room boarded Walter T. Carter, a Norfolk & Western locomotive engineer who was a friend of the proprietor and lived to be 101. He was born on a farm at Ironto, Va. on June 4, 1887 and passed away in 1988.

Starting as a cook on a fencing gang in 1903, he switched to a Radford Division fireman’s job in 1907. He transferred to the Scioto Division, and came west to Portsmouth, Ohio on Feb. 1, 1910. There, he married Margaret Hurst and the couple raised her two daughters.

That same year on Christmas Eve, he was called as a fireman on the second engine (Class V 4-6-0 #957) of eastbound No. 16. Although he escaped serious injury, that train derailed and struck the west portal of Tunnel No. 6 (between Webb and Crum, W.Va.), killing four mail clerks.

He was also in the cab of a Class Z 2-6-6-2 on the night of Dec. 5, 1920, when special agents and state police killed the infamous outlaw John B. Marcum at Breeden, W.Va. Marcum, who led a gang that disrupted railroad operations and harassed train crews, leapt from the cab and was “shot in mid air like a squirrel!”

Promoted to engineer in June, 1923, Walter was often “forced” to Kenova on account of limited seniority, both as a fireman and as an engineer during the double-tracking of the Big Sandy Line. It was during these times that he boarded at what is now The Trainmasters House.

“There was always a newspaper waiting for me when I came in off a run,” he told the proprietor. “And the call boy would come around on the walk and throw pebbles up at the window to awaken me.”

When the proprietor was a little boy of perhaps seven, his father would often take him down to Kenova Union Station to watch the steam-powered N&W passenger trains stop on their Norfolk-Cincinnati route. Mister Carter would often beckon for him to come up and have a look in the cab.

He made his last run at the throttle of The Powhatan Arrow on Jan. 31, 1957. The overalls that he wore are hanging in the closet.

During Carter’s retirement, proprietor Hensley renewed and enjoyed a long friendship (hours of oral history tapes were recorded) with him. He presented Hensley with many mementos of his nearly 54-yr career. That’s him on the right, along with engineer W. P. Harris, in the black and silver-framed picture of K-1 4-8-2 #110 at Portsmouth. The copper torch that he carried also adorns the desk and the metal grip that he toted (see picture with his wife) rests on the floor at left. And his picture of Jesus watches over the house from the upstairs hall wall.

When he was 98, the proprietor (by then also a promoted engineer and an editor with the B of LE) put him aboard N&W Class J 611 for a cab ride from Kenova to Portsmouth, the occasion of which was to present a 40-year pin from the brotherhood. Active in the affairs of the old fireman’s organization, Mr. Carter had handled the shovel with many Radford Division engineers that steam road foreman Frank Collins came up under!

Right up until he died, Mr. Carter made a mean peach cobbler. When he took sick and was briefly awakened by tenderly rubbing his foot in the hospital, his last words to the proprietor were: “Oh Hello Tim. Did you get to see the Twelve-Eighteen?”

At his funeral, the minister noted that “Walter didn’t have any biological children, but he had many spiritual offspring.” Sadly – and with tears streaming down his face, Hensley realized that he was one of them.