Vicker Coaling Facilities
Anyone who has visited the community of Vicker on the N&W between Christiansburg and Walton is familiar with the large concrete coaling tower that straddles the tracks there at MP 295.4.
But there is a lot of infrastructure there that doesn't seem to fit with that large tower. Most of it is from the coaling facility that was there before that modern coaling tower was built in 1951. There was a ballon track that climbed to cross the tracks, with a coal trestle to transfer coal from coal cars to steam engine tenders. This coaling and watering facility was built in 1918.
Views of the structure are in the Virginia Tech imagebase. See https://imagebase.lib.vt.edu/image_viewer.php?q=03GP0536 and https://imagebase.lib.vt.edu/image_viewer.php?q=03GP0464 and http://spec.lib.vt.edu/imagebase/norfolksouthern/F1/NS3571.JPG.
But the trackside images don't give a good perspective of just how extensive
this facility was. This aerial view from 1937 shows that the ballon track extended
well across the road on the north side of the tracks.
(click on the image to see a larger version).
An OK view of the track layout is seen in this 1937 15-minute topo map, Blacksburg topo map.
There was a similar set-up at Dwight, Virginia, just east of Zuni. See
A good view of the track layout is seen in this 1920 (Reprinted 1944) 15-minute Ivor topo map.