Derailments aplenty…

Think you’re having a bad day?  Check these out:

Videos courtesy of “worldwide channel of peace,” “cnwtrain,” and “Jack T” via YouTube.

Rock on Trains © 2018, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Depot Doings: Nashville, IL / Knoxville, TN / Wetumpka, AL / Cartersville, GA

LN-logoFeatured Louisville & Nashville depots on the blog this month are those in Nashville, IL; Knoxville, TN; Wetumpka, AL; and Cartersville, GA.

The depot at Knoxville was built in 1905. It served as a passenger station until 1968 when the L&N ceased passenger service to Knoxville. The station continued to house L&N offices until 1975. It remained vacant until 1980 when Alex Harkness and his partners purchased it. In 1982 it was renovated for use during the Worlds Fair. In 1985 it was further renovated by Alex Harkness and Station 82 partners for use as office and special events.

The depot at Nashville, Illinois, was built in 1885 as part of the L&N’s expansion through Southern Illinois in the 1880’s. The building has a simple vernacular design common to L&N depots in small towns, which were intended to be functional rather than elaborate. The depot also served as an information center for Nashville. The depot remained in service as late as the 1950’s but closed sometime prior to 1984. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places March 1, 1985.

The depot in Wetumpka, Alabama, was built in 1906. The station served as a passenger and freight depot until service was terminated in the 1930’s and as a freight depot until 1973. In 1975 it was purchased by the First Methodist Church of Wetumpka and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cartersville, Georgia’s former NC&StL depot looks a bit stubby because the freight room, which occupied some three-fourths of the buildings 200 foot length was demolished in 1972. The surviving passenger section dates to 1902. Parts of the walls on the freight side are older, dating back to the 1850’s and 1860’s. The original Western & Atlantic depot on this site was constructed in 1854. In 1890 the W&A was leased to the NC&StL which merged with the L&N in 1957. L&N was folded into CSX in 1980. CSX still operates the line under a lease from the State of Georgia, which has owned it through its entire history.

Rock on Trains © 2015, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

My Train Recollections: Mike Harrison

Mr. Mike Harrison, Saturday curator at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Co. Museum in Townsend, TN, shares his train recollections with us this month. Thanks for your memories, Mike!

mikeharrisonI never developed an interest in railroads or trains. I was happily and irrevocably born with one. Possibly my earliest recollection of self awareness was as a < 1 year old, traveling with my parents and hearing an N&W conductor on Southern’s Tennessean in 1947 announce our arrival at “Rat-fud! Rat-fud Vaginia!”, a stop on our way from Washington’s Union Station to my Dad’s parents’ home in Knoxville, TN.

Before he graduated Knoxville High School and took a job with the FBI in Washington, DC, my Dad, Joe Harrison, grew up in Knoxville in the 1920’s and ’30’s in a shotgun-style house that backed up to the Louisville & Nashville freight yard (now at the west end of the University of Tennessee campus). His parents’ home was so close to the little freight yard depot, my Dad said that on baseball game days, his Dad would turn their big Phillips console radio around, pointing toward the depot and crank up the volume so the appreciative yardmen could follow the ball game. Dad told us he sold the Sunday Knoxville Journal to train passengers at the depot while the Emmas coaled and took water and let a switcher push the train into the downtown L&N terminal. He said he invariably infuriated the traveling news butches on the train who could not get their copies of the paper to sell until the train reached the terminal.

We would visit Dad’s parents for a few weeks every summer and from the time I could walk, I spent every waking moment in that unfenced freight yard watching the yard steam switchers shuttle freight car cuts around, and occasionally being hoisted into the cab for a a few hours of up-close-and-personal switching. Unthinkable and possibly feloniously illegal today, in the 50’s I could freely roam the entirety of the yard from the wye at the Tennessee River bridge to the Cumberland Avenue overpass without parental or yard worker interference or challenge, other than an occasional, “be careful!” Learning early the key rule was, “you can go anywhere if you stay out of the way,” and occasionally running ice water to yardmen, I got into the roundhouse, rode the turntable, climbed all over bad order cars sidetracked nearest Dad’s house along with hundreds of spare parts and played with the very mobile wheel sets. Even bedtime was memorable. The diesel switchers (FM or ALCO?) had a soothing pitch rise when accelerating and anticipated lowing back to idle when drifting, to the inevitable jarring crash of knuckles reacquainting. With one possible exception, time at the end of Cornell Ave was the most joyful two weeks of the year, especially so if during the Christmas holiday.

The possible exception was equal time spent at my Mother’s parents’ house at Barboursville, VA. Her Dad and all three of her brothers and a cousin worked for Southern Railway in various capacities for varying durations. My grandad, Jessie Strickland, ran the coaling station at Weyburn, VA. I have his 30 year Southern Railway service pin, and one uncle’s Flagman hat badge. Another Uncle, Peyton Strickland, lost his right arm while working as brakeman, but SR took great care of him during his lifetime, and his children until they reached adulthood. Mom’s house was just two miles from the Weyburn coaling tower, but less than 100 feet from Southern’s double tracked main from Orange, VA, to Charlottesville. The outhouse would shake when the long freights passed pulling the grade from Weyburn to Barboursville, moving slowly enough that catching a ride to town was easy. We had standing excuse to leave the supper table to run trackside whenever the Tennessean, Southerner, or Crescent would fly by or even for a long freight. Steam was gone from SR in 1953, but I came to appreciate the EMD E and F’s almost as much, though it always bothered me when the A units all faced forward. Uncle Peyton had retired to Gordonsville, six miles away where SR and C&O met at the wye junction. I’d watch the C&O trains from Richmond to Charlottesville either stop or more often greatly slow for the sweeping wye curve through town.

Mom and Dad met and married in Washington, DC, during WWII and whenever they wanted a little alone time, Mom had only to take my brother and I to Union Station and hand us up to Uncle Lynn (actually Mom’s cousin), a Conductor on the Crescent. Two thrilling, memorable hours later, often having ridden the business/observation car platform, he would give to Aunt Opal in picturesque Orange, VA, for a week or two of continual SR dual main action at the family home in Barboursville. Too often, though at the time I had no idea of the ominous implications, it seemed we had the whole five or six car consist to ourselves, and whether true or not, we always explored the whole length of train at least once during the far too short trip.

Now, I love to get stopped at a grade crossing for a creeping CSX coal drag. Near ecstasy was the 7,000 mile Amtrak trip my Dad and I took in 2005 on the Cardinal, Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder and Capitol Limited, and seeing the grandeur of our Creator’s creation from a Superliner’s wide stateroom window, or from the never-to-be-opened-during-motion open lower level Dutch door in the First Class Lounge car. I never got tired of watching or being in or around trains — still don’t; can’t. Like I said at the top, I didn’t become interested in trains. I was born that way, and remain eternally grateful to my parents and theirs for making it thus.

Rock on Trains © 2014, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

New blog feature: “Close Calls”

Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver, the largest and most-influential rail safety organization in the United States, has inspired me to create a new post category here at Rock on Trains. Operation Lifesaver was founded by the Union Pacific Railroad in the early 70’s; its mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway grade crossings and on rail properties.

“Close Calls” is the name of the blog post category I’m introducing today. Close Calls has been created to make the general public more aware of railroad-related accidents as viewed through actual near-fatal video at grade crossings. These video clips will hopefully show viewer(s) how complete disregard for safety could cost one his/her life.

Safety first,

Close Call #1 — Man jumps barriers at train crossing

Close Call #2 — People inches from getting hit by an Amtrak train

Close Call #3 — CSX train nearly hits inattentive guy

Rock on Trains © 2014, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Interlocking Towers: Carelton / Penford / Wayne Jct / Romulus / Delray / Pelton

My Depot Doings feature is being replaced with Interlocking Towers this month.  I am currently reviewing my depot photo sources and am not able to post photos at this time. I’m substituting the depot photos with these Interlocking Tower photos for November.  I hope to have new depot photos up next month — please stay tuned.

All of the towers featured here are located in southeastern Michigan except the Pelton Tower, which was located outside Windsor, Ontario. The Wayne Jct., Pelton, Penford and Romulus towers have been razed. The Carelton tower remains, but is not active. The Delray tower is still maintained by CSX as far as I know.

Rock on Trains © 2012, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.