Reader remembers rails

To the Editor:Sam Hatcher, I applaud you and the two other proponents, John McDearman and Jere McCulloch, for your column in the May 21 edition of The Wilson Post in generating interest in Lebanon mass transit systems As a senior citizen of some 78 years, I have had the opportunity of riding the Tennessee Central Rails on several occasions. In 1942 after our farm on Oak Point Hill in Norene was covered up with hundreds of U.S. Army maneuver soldiers, Mom was uneasy with all the soldiers about. Dad was working at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro sometimes nights/swing shifts. Dad could only get 4 gallons of gasoline per week, so Dad stayed in quarters at the VA Hospital. Mom and Dad decided to move from our farm to Nashville, where she would work for her former employer, Satsuma Tea Room, to help pay off their mortgage notes on their farm. Dad would save up his gas ration coupons for a month and come to Nashville to our rented house sometimes on his days off. Other times I would ride the Tennessee Central to Lebanon from Shelby Street Bridge. Sometimes I would hitch a ride to Norene with Mr. Ovid Clemmons, who carried mail Star Route Lebanon-Norene. Dad would sometimes meet me at the farm and we would “camp out” on his days off, trying to keep the grass cut down around the house to keep the rattlesnakes away. Three or four times a year in World War II, I rode the Tennessee Central back and forth to Nashville. At Mt. Juliet siding westbound to Nashville, the train would pick up a “cream car” loaded with milk and cream for the Nashville ice cream factories.  In 1945 at end of World War II, we moved back to our Norene farm after gas was plentiful. No more rides on Tennessee Central for awhile. During the Korean War I was in U.S. Navy with homeport Norfolk, Va. I rode the Tennessee Central twice, from Lebanon eastbound up through Buffalo Valley, huffing and puffing up the grade, on way to Cookeville. The trip up to Monterrey from Cookeville was a rather tedious one, about half way up the little ole engine would run low on steam. The train would stop for 20-30 minutes until the fireman could build up steam again. Finally after a few wheel spins, the train would move up the mountain to Monterrey. Just past Monterrey there was a watering/coaling station siding where the train took on water, unhooked the empty coal tender and took on a full tender of coal for the rest of the journey. The trip down Rockwood Mountain on the Tennessee Central was a scary one, around the scary old wooden trestles with curves. Many of the passengers would not look out as we descended the mountain. The Engineer would creep around the curvy trestle at no more than 5-6 mph going downgrade. The trip which originated at Lebanon at 7 a.m. finally terminated at Harriman at 2 p.m. The TC deadheaded at Harriman.  A Trailways bus/buses would take the passengers to Knoxville where we boarded the Southern Eastbound. At Christiansburg or Salem,Va.,  I would board The Norfolk & Western “Pocahontas” or the  N&W “Powhatan Arrow.” The Pocahontas was an old engine, circa 1910, with speeds of about 45-60, whereas the “Powhatan Arrow,” circa 1948, was a modern steam train which could do 90 mph with 10 cars  Finally after about 25 hours I would reach Norfolk.  I could not make good connections to the Tennessee Central westbound. I would ride the Southern to Chattanooga, then pick up NC&STL Chattanooga to Murfreesboro. That trip usually took 27 hours.  We need high speed rail in Tennessee. I have ridden the Schnell Bahns in Germany at more than 120 mph. Floyd S. MoserLebanon 

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