Bob Gray

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Bob Gray is a retired railroad engineer of the Columbus and Greenville Railway in Mississippi. Bob is an avid live steamer. He has attended meetings at the Annetta Valley & Western Railroad in Texas for over 40 years. AV&W's Gray Yard is named in honor of Bob Gray.

Bob owns an 0-6-0 switcher in 1.5 inch scale built by Paul Brien.

Stamey Loop

Bob's experience as an engineer on a full-scale railroad really shows out on the 7-1/2 inch gauge track. An example of his skill at the throttle was shown at the Spring 2013 meet of the AV&WRR. The track at AV&WRR has very little grade, with the exception of the newly added Stamey Loop, which climbs 3% coming out of the loop and into a curve.

He put together a 12-car train, with 3 riding adults, behind his beautiful 0-6-0. We didn't think he would make it out of Stamey Loop. He didn't on the first try, his drivers just started spinning. So he slowly backed up half way back up the hill, then took a running start. He came flying around the corner, and steadily climbed up the hill and out of the loop. It was a sight to see. Dick Melcher and Daris Nevil witnessed the event from the Shady Rest siding.

Movie Role

Bob played an uncredited part in the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". He appears as the fireman in the locomotive at the opening of the movie.

Stan Garner, Train Coordinator for the production company, describes the filming of the train scene as follows:

The train is featured in the opening sequence. It was shot on the Columbus & Greenville Railway near Leland, MS and consists of Dardanelle & Russellville Railroad Locomotive #4 from North Dardanelle, Arkansas (Baldwin 2-6-2 built in 1913, W.T. Carter & Brother #4, Reader RR #4). The stock car (CB&Q), tank car (Superior Oil) and outside braced box car (NP) came from the Texas State Railroad at Rusk Texas. The hopper car, steel box car and flat car are from the C&G Railway and the wood caboose is from the Reader Railroad at Reader, Arkansas. Everything, except the C&G equipment, was brought to the C&G at Greenville, MS by truck.

Then and Now

Terry Shirley posted the following on FacebooK:

I had the chance to create a "then and now" set of photos of my Good Friend, Mr. Bob Gray, at the Southwestern Live Steamers train meet in Annetta, TX. this past weekend. I took the first shot in 1978, but I didn't know him personally then. Here he is on the same engine, in the same pose in 2015, almost on the same spot. Mr. Gray is 85 years old and made the trip up from Mississippi to attend this train meet.


From Gunter and Peel:

James Robert “Bob” Gray, age 90, of Columbus, MS, passed away December 6, 2019, at his daughter’s residence. Funeral services will be Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at 3:00 PM at Memorial Gunter Peel Chapel 903 College St. location with Rev. Charlie Whitney officiating. The interment will immediately follow at Friendship Cemetery. Visitation will be from 2:00 PM until the time of the service.
Mr. Gray was born October 8, 1929, in Columbus, MS, to the late James Meek and May Land Gray. Mr. Gray was particularly known for his love of the railroad. After his retirement, he became involved in the Live Steamer railroad clubs and built several engines and rail cars to perfect scale. He was a very talented craftsman and a “walking history book” of the Columbus and Greenville Railroad. He loved to share his knowledge with anyone that was interested in railroad information. He was a life member of the Mid-South Live Steamers, the Southwestern Live Steamers, and the Annetta Valley & Western Railroad Clubs. The Annetta Valley & Western Railroad Club named the Rail Yard in honor of Bob. He served as a railroad consultant on the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? which was released in 2000. Bob was riding in the cab of the steam locomotive while the scene was shot in the opening of the movie.
The #503 caboose in the Propst Park in Columbus, MS, was also named in Bob’s honor for his research information and donation of railroad memorabilia given to the park. Mr. Gray was a member of Fairview Baptist Church. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Louise Tucker Gray.
Survivors include his daughters, Betty Miller and her husband Don of Steens, MS, Jane Blake and her husband Stacey of Gilbert, AZ, grandchildren, Brad Yates and his wife Elizabeth of Steens, MS, Ashley Blake of Gilbert, AZ, Garrett Blake of Gilbert, AZ, and Patrick Blake and his wife Jennifer of Chandler, AZ, and great grandson, Bayn Yates.
Pallbearers will be Brad Yates, Don Miller, Kenny Sheffield, Terry Shirley, Paul King, Paul Guerry, and Bayn Yates.