Tyler Turpin

Army Diesel Locomotive 8011

Army diesel locomotive 8011 was built before the attack on Pearl Harbor for a railroad in Georgia. It passed through Virginia on its delivery trip from the ALCO factory in Schenectady, New York. It was leased by the U.S. Army for use in World War II and purchased by the Army after the war ended. It was then sent to the Alaska Railroad in the state of Alaska. The Alaska Railroad, from its founding in 1914 until its transfer to the state  in 1983, was owned and operated by the Federal Government and had some train runs dedicated to military use in the Cold War . 8011 was returned to the Continental United States and placed in storage for many years until transferred for further use to the Dept. of Transportation research center in Colorado for further use. It was then sent to the Smithsonian museums collection  but stored and displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania for the Smithsonian for nearly 30 years. It was sent to the Army Transportation Corps Museum at Joint Base Langley Eustis in 2011. It is one of the few larger-than-a-pick-up-truck sized diesel locomotives in the world that was built prior to December 7, 1941 and has not been scrapped. Most early medium to large diesel locomotives were sent to scrap metal dealers in the late-1950s to mid-1960s.

Belle Isle Hydro-Electric Plant Richmond, VA

The history as poetry of VEPCO’s (now Dominion Virginia Power’s) hydro-electric plant on Belle Isle that operated from early 1900s to late 1960s.

A-26 invader 44-35617

The poet Alyesha Wise was the featured poet one evening in the Fall of 2012 at Slam Richmond. She read a poem describing the reality of the street-level drug dealing trade. Being a business historian I was aware that 15 of the A-26 Invader light bombers built for World War II ended up as drug smuggling aircrafts after 15 to 20 years of legitimate freight and passenger carrying use owned by private firms. The Virginia Air National Guard operated Invaders from late 1940s to mid 1950s. Most of the Invaders had been sold by the Dept. of Defense in the mid 1950s to early 1960s. Five of the drug-smuggling Invaders ended up on display in museums after being seized by law enforcement agencies. This is the story in poetry of how the Invader on display at the museum on the grounds of  Hill Air Force Base in Utah ended up there. There have been few poems about the importation of illegal drugs into the United States in the post World War II decades.

Douglas A-26B “Invader”

S/N 44-35617

Crew:  Three to Four

Engine:  Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 18-cylinder, double-row radial; 2,000 hp each

Wingspan:  70 ft 0 in

Length:  50 ft 8 in

Height:  18 ft 6 in

Weight:  22,362 lbs empty; 41,800 lbs loaded

Speed:  376 mph

Range:  2,914 miles

Ceiling:  24,500 feet

Armament:  16-to-18.50 cal. machine guns; 6,000 lbs bombs

Cost:  $192,457 (average A-26 unit cost as of 1944)

A-26B, S/N 44-35617 ” was originally manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation in May 1945 as a “C” model (with a glass bombardier nose). The USAAF accepted delivery on the aircraft on May 15, 1945. Later that month it was assigned to the 140th Base Unit at Moody Field, Georgia. In January 1946 it was assigned to the 4160th Base Unit, Hobbs Field, New Mexico, and then in July 1947 came to the 4135th Base Unit at Hill Field. The newly-created United States Air Force redesignated this aircraft as a B-26C in January 1948.

In January 1951 the airplane was moved to the control of the Ogden Air Material Area, still at Hill AFB, but in November 1951 it was transferred to the 117th Reconnaissance Technical Wing (Tactical Air Command) at Lawson AFB, Georgia. That organization moved to Paris in February 1952 and relocated to Wiesbaden AB, Germany the following month.

The aircraft accompanied the unit in its travels and was modified to RB-26C configuration in June 1952. The next month it went to the 10th Reconnaissance Technical Wing (USAF Europe) at Toul-Rosiere AB, France. While serving with this organization the plane was periodically assigned to Furstenfieldbruck AB, Neubiberg AB, and Erding AB, Germany. In June 1953 it was transitioned to the 85th Air Defence Wing (USAFE) at Erding AB, Germany, but went back to the 10th Reconnaissance Technical Wing (USAFE) at Spangdahlem AB, Germany in July. March of 1954 saw the plane move to the 737th Maintenance Group (USAFE) at Chateauroux AB, France. The next month it went back to the 10th RTW at Spangdahlem.

In the fall of 1955 the aircraft was sent to Manchester, England, for contract maintenance and was then transferred to the 184th Technical Reconnaissance Squadron (Air National Guard) at Ft. Smith, Arkansas. One year later it went to the 154th Technical Reconnaissance Squadron (ANG) at Adams Field in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the summer of 1957 the aging aircraft was sent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona for long-term storage and was dropped from the USAF inventory in January of 1958. Later it was sold to Oklahoma Aircraft Corporation, where it was converted into a light transport for civilian use.

On March 17, 1983 the plane was seized by United States Marshalls in a drug raid in California, carrying a heavy load of marijuana. The Air Force flew the aircraft to Travis AFB, California, where it was placed in temporary storage. On January 3, 1984 a federal judge returned the plane to USAF control, but it remained at Travis for several years. Air Force personnel there repainted the aircraft in original USAF markings and placed it on static display. In August 1990 the plane was disassembled and brought by truck to Hill AFB for restoration and display at Hill Aerospace Museum. The old plane had returned “home” to Hill Field.

Peck Iron and Metal 1948 

The scrapyard at the Port of Richmond in Virginia scrapped many ships built during World War II or that were never completed because the war ended. The yard was a part of Peck Iron and Metal Company for many decades. Engines and parts from scrapped ships were used around the United States to modernize 19th and early 20th century-built tugboats and workboats owned by private firms and local, state, and Federal agencies. Some of these boats are still in commercial use and others remained in use until the 1980s, 1990s, and  even early years of the 21st century to become museum displays or still operate to take museum visitors on tours and move other ships owned by museums. The privately owned shipyard in Newport News, Virginia built over 20 Landing Ship Tank (LST) in 1942 and 1943. In April of 1865 as Confederate States of America forces evacuated Richmond, VA, two ironclads of the CSA Navy were destroyed on the river in the vicinity of  Drewry’s Bluff  using their ammunition. This was done to  prevent their capture and use by the U.S. Navy. These ships had been built for the Civil War.

Mr. Trigg

William Trigg was the president of Richmond Locomotive Works from 1887 to 1901. In the late 1890s he founded a shipyard on the island in Richmond where the canal flows into the James River at the  Great Ship Lock.  He died in 1903 from a stroke that months later lead to kidney failure.

The Richmond Locomotive & Machine Works grew out of Tredegar Iron Works to become a nationally-known manufacturer of steam locomotive engines and an integral part of the industrial landscape of the City of Richmond. The Works produced hundreds of steam engines, which were shipped out to meet the demands of public and private interests across America as well as several countries in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. Following its 1901 merger into what became the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), the Richmond Works continued to manufacture cutting-edge machines, including some of the biggest locomotives ever constructed, for distribution and use around the world. One of the best-known locomotives to emerge from the Richmond works was the Southern Railroad’s Richmond Locomotive PS-4 No. 1401, a 4-6-2 steam locomotive completed in March 1926, which has been on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History since the early 1960s. 1401 pulled the train carrying the body of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt part of the way on the trip from Warm Springs, Georgia to Washington, DC after his death in 1945. The buildings that now house Bow Tie Cinemas at the corner of Boulevard and Leigh Streets in Richmond, Virginia were from 1887 to the late 1890s the main locomotive factory for Richmond Locomotive Works. It was a parts plant complex after the main factory moved to the North end of Shockoe Valley in the late 1890s. The plant in the Valley was as large as a public utility electricity and steam generating plant. The locomotive that pulled the train that carried Lenin in disguise as a railroad worker into Russia to start the Russian Revolution was built in Richmond.

The Trigg Shipyard built small to medium-sized ships for private firms and the Federal Government. Creditors forced the yard into bankruptcy in late 1902 and the Federal Government took possession of the Navy, Coast Guard and Army at the time the yard closed. Appeals of decisions in one of the court cases resulting from the bankruptcy reached to the level of the United States Supreme Court. The court ruled that under various clauses of the U.S. Constitution and other laws that a government agency’s claim for title of goods in the process of being manufactured takes precedence over all other creditors if the agency had made payments for those goods prior to the bankruptcy being declared. The ships under construction for the Federal Government were completed at the Norfolk Navy Yard. All were cut up for scrap by 1925 as obsolete except for the Army Corps of Engineers dredge Benyuard. The Benyuard was used in the Gulf of Mexico region until 1948 by the ACE. It was sold to a private firm in 1948 and operated in commercial use until 1957 when it, too, was taken to a scrapyard. The ruins of the dry Docks at the shipyard can still be seen as part of the City of Richmond’s Great Ship Lock Park.


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