C.A. Wiggins, Jr.

 

 

 
TRIPS TO GRAN - FA'S HOUSE

       It seems that I was destined to have been born - raised - and to have grown up in a remote back water location which was devoid of any major railroad transportation. So guess what turns out to be the subject of my primary childhood interest and a major thrust of my early and later life's passion but railroad transportation and in particular the "big stuff". Double tracked main lines - heavily ballasted road bed - all trim and neat with 131 pound rail - automatic block signals - multiple passenger schedules - repetitive freight manifests almost running on the previous man's block - plus second and sometimes even third sections of passenger trains.

       Home - in Kinston North Carolina - was only an intermediate point on an unpretentious almost antique branch of a second class subregional railroad in eastern North Carolina between Goldsboro and the Atlantic coast at Morehead City and Beaufort. Although there was - in addition - the south end of a stub branch of the Atlantic Coast Line from a five legged junction situated a few miles north of Greenville amidst the corn, cotton, and tobacco fields of Greene County - a place called Parmele (Parm - e - lee).

       Parmele's five legs projected

  • (a) to Rocky Mount via Tarboro,
  • (b) to Kinston via Greenville,
  • (c) to Vandemere via Washington,
  • (d) to Weldon via Hobgood, and
  • (e) to Plymouth.

       The Coast Line had a single passenger run daily from Kinston via Greenville - Parmele - and Hobgood to Weldon near the Virginia border where it terminated at the Coast Line's double track north - south main line. No 38 was due out of Kinston at 9:55 AM and back in the evening at 5:55 as No 39.(More on this later.)

       Kinston's east - west route was the Norfolk Southern Railroad. When I was about 7 or 8 they had three trips a day each way, but by the time I was in my teens - (the depression of the early 1930's had come and many things in America had been cut back) it was down to only one trip each way. I can still well remember the morning eastbound run - No 2 - at 8:05 from Goldsboro ( 27 miles away ) and the evening westbound run - No 5 - back to Goldsboro at 6;35 PM. Seems like, too, I can almost recollect some of the larger activity of earlier years such as eastbounds at 4:05 and 9:55PM plus westbounds at 6:00 and 10:55AM.

       But Kinston was not all I had to look forward to - even in my tenderest years, for - you see - I had maternal grandparents and maternal aunts who were anxious to see their new grandson and nephew. They lived in the progressive and vibrant area of Piedmont North Carolina - Rowan County - county seat Salisbury - but their home was a newly constructed two story brick house in the village known as Mt. Ulla. This little town of Mt. Ulla boasted two general stores - "Dad" Brown's and Carl Sherrill's, a roller flour mill, a railroad depot, and a fourth class U S Post Office. According to an old letter of Gran's my earliest trip was in the latter part of June 1923 when I was not quite two months old. We went by automobile - to Mt. Ulla - to

GRANFA'S HOUSE!!!!

       Again for the next couple of years I was always taken for short visits - none of which I remember, of course.

       But when I was a wee lad of three or four, our trips to Mt. Ulla would often commence in the middle of the night since my Dad - "Pop" - preferred to travel that way. For one thing there was much less traffic - of course - on those old narrow sixteen foot wide highways - (now they're more like 22 or 24 feet wide and that's for two lanes. Four lanes were unheard of in those days.) Secondly by initiating our trips in the middle of the night or rather in the wee hours of the morning Pop could avoid the repeat of an attempt by a nosy neighbor who one time brazenly invited herself along for part of the way to visit her own relatives and thereby dictated even which route we would have to take to deliver her to her desired destination. I never knew for sure but I've often thought that this was a trap which Gran carelessly let Pop in for when she unthinkingly agreed with the neighbor before Pop was aware of it.

       Anyway Pop would come into my room (the middle bedroom at 908 College St.) in the dark of the night very quietly. I'd be sound asleep snuggled securely in my blanket. The first sound I'd be aware of was Pop almost whispering, "Son - Son - wanna go to

GRANFA'S HOUSE???"

       Almost instantly I'd be wide awake - WIDE AWAKE - at the words

"GRANFA'S HOUSE"

       That would be like saying to a kid today "Disney World - Disneyland - or King's Island"!! Later years would find me accompanying my mother ("Gran") on the train from Goldsboro. The term "GRAN FA'S house" never seemed to lose it's magic appeal for me.

GRAN' FA

       But I started to say something about "Gran Fa". That's what I always called him even after I grew up and for as long as he lived - he died in 1940 just after I had turned 17 - just like Sally and Mike's three refer to their maternal grandmother as "Mana". Those are the sounds our grandson, Dan, concocted when he first tried to say "Grandmother".

       "Mana" - that name stuck - and so she'll always be "Mana" to all of our grandchildren. Likewise for me "Gran'fa" - that name always stuck for me when referring to George Brown Ketchie - my maternal grandfather. It was always a thrill for me to go to Gran'Fa's house - no matter what my age. I felt ultimately and completely safe and secure there enveloped as I was by the love of Grandmother Ketchie (Etta), Aunt May (bedridden arthritic cripple), Aunt Brown and - of course - Gran'Fa. At my age right now of 68 as I write these words - reliving in my memory those events of so long ago - I can't help the tears that well up in my eyes and the lump that mysteriously forms in my throat at the thought of those happy lovely and memories!!

       There were chickens - oodles of Gran'Fa's white leghorn laying hens plus a "duke's" mixture of Grandmother's - and Polly - the cow which Grandmother - and later Aunt Brown - would milk every morning and night - fruit trees galore - a garden - Gran Fa's bee yard with 20 or 25 hives of Italian variety bees - and a couple of small plots of crops - maybe an acre or two each of cotton, wheat or oats. There was a two story smoke house made out of unpainted rough sawn lumber with an attached garage, an old barn that was in very bad shape but good enough for one lonely old Jersey cow, an outdoor coal bin, an enclosed well pump house at the back porch door, an arbor with Concord (blue) grapes, and an immense fig bush behind the smoke house. Also there was an open spot on the hill sloping down from the back of the house where the colored wash lady - Ada Rankin - built a fire under an old black iron wash pot each Monday morning, and washed our clothes on an old "timey" wash board.

       In addition - of course - there was the railroad right in front of the house running in a shallow cut such that the engineer in his cab as he passed by me would be right at my eye level. I would run in a hurry each time I heard a whistle blow to stand in the front yard so I could wave at each one. There were four passenger trains a day - two north and two south - plus two middle of the night freights. Gran'Fa called the freights the "tobacco trains" because he said that they originated and/or terminated in the tobacco capitol of that day - Winston Salem - which of course they did - just like he said.

       But the smells in that house to me were unmistakable. From Gran'Fa's plug chewing tobacco inventory which he kept in his bedroom closet to the mountain apples (he always said "limber twigs" were the best) which were dumped loose in a little closet under the upstairs staircase to the aromas from the fruit pies Aunt Brown always seemed to be baking - they were the my sensations of my HOME away from home!! There was no central heat in the house and so it had to be heated by two coal heater stoves - one in the family "sitting" room and of course one up stairs in Aunt May's bedroom. In addition there was the little "two - eye" kitchen coal stove with an unusual flue oven a couple of feet above the stove where Aunt Brown made toast. All of my school time summers would be spent there - lonely because of the lack of other kids my age - but nevertheless - happy for what I did have.

TRIPS TO AND FROM

       As it turned out the depression did impact upon us as it did everybody else in America - and the world too, for that matter. Dad's job at B W Cannady's hardware store began to look like it could be in jeopardy. The US Post office was about to take on some new "temporary" clerks in Kinston and Mr. Herman Cannady the hardware store owner encouraged Dad to put in for one of those Post Office assignments and assured him that he could still work part time at the hardware store when the Post Office didn't need him for a few hours or a few days.(What a stroke of luck!! - or was that the Providence of the good Lord in heaven. I have my own conclusions. You can draw your own.)

       Anyway this meant that our automobile trips to Gran'Fa's were going to be severely curtailed. My later trips during those depression years involved accompanying Gran on the train, but we had to have Dad take us to Goldsboro to catch the Southern passenger train in the early mornings. He had to remain behind in Kinston so as to work the scarce hours that were available to him.

       As I got to age of 8 or 10 Dad and Mom allowed as to how maybe I could make the trip alone. I can assure you that I had NO objection to that idea!! How soon can I go? Just as soon as school is out. OH BOY!!

LATER SOLO TRIPS

       I don't really recall that first SOLO trip of mine at age of maybe 10 but I do have some vivid recollections of later ones when I was up around 12 or 14 and so......

        ......here it was still dark outside the rear and side windows of Dad's Chevy and only the headlights provided any illumination at all and of course that was dead ahead so Dad could guide our trek from Kinston to the Union Station in Goldsboro some 28 miles away.

       Soon now Dad would be crossing us past Goldsboro's wide main north - south boulevard. Then following the N C #10 highway route signs for a few more blocks in the center of town, then finally a left turn for just a block or two. Then a right turn as we left N C #10 and down a few more blocks where we came to a dead end "tee" intersection. Directly across this intersection sat an enormous stone pre - WWI building on a huge private lot. This was the UNION STATION - - "Union" meaning that it served three railroad lines:

       (1) the Atlantic Coast Line's Rocky Mount - Wilmington major branch route over which there were two passenger trains north (#48 and #42) and two trains southbound (#41 and #49) plus several freights each way, (2) the SOUTHERN Railway's major branch route from Greensboro to its terminus at Goldsboro which saw three passenger schedules each way - eastbound #22, #112, and #14 with their "other sides" as #21, #111, and #17. (3) Then finally there was the Norfolk Southern's dinky branch - and I do mean DINKY - from Goldsboro to the Atlantic Coast at Morehead City and Beaufort with only a single round trip each day. Number 2 trundled out eastward in the early morning about 6:45 or 7:00 and returned that night as #5 some time around 7:45 or 8:00 and giving Kinston its primary train passenger service and its only mail service.

       A few cars would already be in the parking lot at that early hour of the morning as it was just beginning to get light in the East. Also there seemed to be some other human activity collecting in the vicinity around the terminal station's "street" side. Dad easily found a parking place close to the street side door on the east side of the building.

       He shut off the engine and got out. Mom and I followed as soon as I could fold down the rear of Mom's front seat to permit me to exit the back seat (a two door car was unhandy to get in or out of - then as now!)

       Illumination coming out of through the tall windows foretold that there must be some other human activity going on inside as well. Raising the trunk lid Dad took out "my" old boxy reddish brown "suitcase" (valise) and together we approached that big wide and tall street side door. Just one granite stone step above the parking lot level this massive door and heavy barrier to the inside was mounted on four old squeaky brass door hinges which squawked noisily as Dad pushed it open for us to enter. Those hinges probably hadn't been oiled for several years and if one desired a door opening count it could be accomplished just by tabulating the squawks instead of visually watching for door opening events.

       Inside there was a large waiting room area - probably 40 by 60 feet - I would guess - with a high ceiling maybe 18 to 20 feet high and from which hung four fancy lighting fixtures. Such a ceiling height facilitated a stunning echo all over from any conversation which might come from any one of a dozen or so gathered passengers, their family members or friends. It reminds me now of the echo one might expect to hear in an underground cavern.

       There were several rows of massive and grotesquely shaped seating benches arranged back - to - back and built from sturdy oak lumber. But the way they were shaped - reminds me now of an "ogee" curve - were certainly not made for comfort as the lower back (lumbar) support was completely reversed from what today is normal.

       But on to our business at hand. Opposite the street door through which we had just entered was another like it. This one opened out onto an open area where the ground was spread with finely screened gravel and was partitioned by a broad concrete walkway. The gravel was from such a fine screen mesh that it gave forth a "scrunch - scrunch" sound to one's foot steps sorta like crusted snow would do.

       Dad had stopped by a window opening in the left corner of the waiting room and this window opened into another busy and brightly lit room off the main waiting room. Behind I could barely see who was inside because I was too short of stature yet to see adequately as my nose barely made it up to a shelf extended out for the ticket buying public.

       On one occasion I remember I tarried by Dad's side long enough and I heard him say to a man behind the window, "Let me have one half - fare ticket to Mt Ulla" - "Where?" - "Mount Ulla", Dad replied. "Is that on the Coast Line?" (The ticket agent must have thought he heard Dad say "Mount Olive" as that was just a few miles south on the ACL and after all #41 was standing outside just waiting to head that way.) "No sir, that's on the Southern up beyond Winston Salem - just beyond Barber Junction on toward Charlotte". There was a mumbled oath from the agent as I heard a heavy clunk sound from inside the ticket window. He had had to take down his bulky passenger rate book from its shelf and he grunted in disgust at having to bother with one measly half - fare ticket to some obscure place he'd never heard of and which was not already in his memory bank or typed out on a quick reference sheet thumb - tacked to his office wall or else with preprinted tickets readily available from a convenient slot near his arm's operating reach. It took a few minutes for all of this to trans pire. Next Dad took my suitcase to another window and armed with my ticket was able to check my bag through to Mt Ulla.

       So while Dad was at the ticket window and checking my valise I rushed outside to where the tracks were located. Here there were three north - south (parallel) tracks separated by wide concrete pedestrian walkways which in turn were covered by "inverted vee" shed roofs supported by steel columns. The inverted vee roofs were arranged so that rain would have to flow to the center and down gutter down spouts which prevented the rain from instead dripping off the outer edges of the roof right where passengers would have to stand when boarding a train.

       On the nearest track sat a perfectly beautiful (to me) gold trimmed Virginia green passenger engine - a SOUTHERN 4 - 6 - 2 - (a "pacific" type) - class Ps2 (I learned later). The engine was parked nearest the station - pointed south - with its train strung out behind it to the north. Coupled in this string of six steel (heavy weight type) cars were two combination baggage/express cars, one railway post office car (RPO), two coaches and a Pullman sleeper - a "drawing room"/twelve berth section sleeper" (Goldsboro - Cincinnati).

       But on the next track to the west sat another engine - a white trimmed black ACL 4 - 6 - 2 (also a pacific type) - class P5a (I also learned later). It too was facing south (to my left) but this engine was actively "alive" - moreso than the SOUTHERN engine had seemed at first to be. She was breathing steam from her little turbine driven electric dynamo perched up on top of her boiler just in front of her cab roof, and from her steam chest relief valves steam rose lazily and drifted into the air before it disappeared as a mist, and water (condensed steam) dripped from her 8 - 1/2" Westinghouse cross - compound air pump hung underneath her left running board. Her induced draft blower (steam) was turned on and the blower - fed smoke and sparks shot up the stack and out into the dawn air as one of her three pop valves sizzled at just below 200 psi. The fireman needed the additional draft as he shoveled in another layer of coal in preparation for an imminent departure south to Wilmington.

       Back along the first couple of cars of her train of seven heavy weight cars several baggage and express handlers were feverishly hurrying to complete their parcel transfers so as not to further delay the ACL departure.

       This was the Coast Line's #41 - south bound schedule from Norfolk Va to Wilmington N C via Rocky Mount and Wilson. I'd often heard Dad's familiar post office jargon refer to this RPO run as "Norf 'n' Wil". Its carded departure time from Goldsboro (5:30 AM) had long since past as this run typically ran late. Why?

       Well, for one thing it was always heavily loaded with "head end" traffic - viz express - mail - and probably some company LCL freight. This even though it also had a layover in Rocky Mount of an even four hours between its arrival time from Norfolk (11:15PM) and its scheduled departure time for Wilmington at 3:15AM. That was an enormous time cushion. However this run also carried two - count 'em - (2) sleepers for Wilmington which it received at Rocky Mount from the Coast Line's southbound mainline train - the Palmetto Limited - #83. These sleepers were referred to as Pullman routes - or sleeper trips - CL62 and R59 southbound and A12 and A59 northbound.

       The Palmetto Limited was one of the Coast Line's seven "red - hot" through trains from the Northeast (New York - Philadelphia - and even Boston) to the vacation land in Florida and along the Georgia coast.

       The Coast Line boasted:

  • The Miamian #71/72
  • Gulf Coast Limited #73/74
  • Havanna Special #75/76
  • Palmetto Limited #77/78
  • Coast Line/Florida Mail #80/89
  • Vacationer #82/83
  • Florida Special #87/88

       These main line trains were well patronized - especially in winter time - as this was before the current era of air line accommodations. So each train was heavily equipped with north - south Pullmans. Most sleepers schedules terminated in places like Miami, Tampa/St Petersburg, or Jacksonville, but a few sleepers found their destinations at places like Savannah or Augusta - or in our case here - Wilmington.

       Some years later would come the Coast Line's two stream - lined diesel electric powered "Champion" trains - one for the east coast of Florida and one for the west coast. These two were instigated as worthy competition for the Seaboard's rival "Orange Blossom Specials". (See below.)

       As an aside - there was an enormous amount of long distance passenger business between that fair and friendly land known universally down south as "DIXIE!" and the business and banking centers of the northeast - as before - New York - Philadelphia and maybe Boston. However the Coast Line did not project any farther south on Florida's east coast than Jacksonville. So consequently it had to rely on the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) to forward the bulk of its sleeper traffic beyond Jacksonville 306 miles to Miami.

       But the Coast Line was not the only road with such a fleet of passen ger schedules. The Seaboard Air Line (SAL) also provided Dixie with north - south sleeper service as well since it fielded five more "name" trains:

  • Robert E Lee #5/6 (#95/96)
  • Southern States Special (Florida traffic) #107/108 **
  • Cotton States Special (Atlanta/Birmingham traffic) #107/108 **
  • New York - Florida Special #191/192
  • Orange Blossom Special (East coast) #7/8
  • Orange Blossom Special (West coast) #307/308 ** These two ran as one schedule as far south as Hamlet where they were then split into two trains - one aimed at Jacksonville and beyond and the other aimed at Atlanta and beyond.

       It is of interest (to me at least) to note that the northern terminal of both the Coast Line and the Seaboard roads is Richmond Virginia - the Coast Line at modern Broad Street Station (now a science museum) and the Seaboard at Main Street Station which is perched high above the street for which it is named and just 2 1/2 blocks northeast of that famous photo - op shot "triple crossing". This is where the Southern runs down the middle of Dock Street, the Seaboard overhead at right angles on a deck girder trestle while the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) James River line passes above that on an angle via the C&O's viaduct in Richmond's old eastern section. However both roads (the ACL and the SAL) immediately connected with short Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P - the "Capitol Line") as a bridge connection. The RF&P was a busy busy little railroad - 116.5 miles of double - tracked automatic - block - signaled main (its only) line between Richmond's two stations and Washington. However the last 6 1/2 miles into Washington was over trackage rights of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and the Washington Terminal Railroad from Potomac Yard (Alexandria) into Washington's renowned Union Station. Potomac Yard sat between what is now "Crystal City" (Alexandria) and the Washington National Airport. That short 6 1/2 miles crosses the Potomac River on the "Long Bridge", skirts along the south edge of the Federal establishment - then ENE along Maryland Avenue between 7th and 9th streets, then ESE for four more blocks along Virginia Avenue, passes by the US Government's steam heat power plant with its coal unloading spur sidings, then a wide sweeping curve to the left starting at 2nd Street from whence it dives into a double - tracked tunnel underneath 1st Street to the north past the basements of the Library of Congress, Supreme Court building, the Dirkson and Russell Senate Office buildings and finally emerges into the floodlighted glare of Union Station's lower level tracks.

       In those days the RF&P was loaded with twelve long distance hot - shot passenger schedules each way: six for the Coast Line, five* for the SAL and one for the N&W's Cannonball (Washington - Norfolk) traffic, plus three locals each way. *(The SAL's Orange Blossom Special #7(307)/#8(308) were combined into one until it got to Jacksonville where it split into the respective East Coast and West Coast trains.)*

       But what of all those New York bound sleepers once they arrived in Washington? Simple! At that point the (once) mighty Pennsylvania Railroad (at one time dubbed - and rightly so - the "Standard railroad of the world") gathered up all those RF&P ferried sleepers and merged them with those of yet third Dixie rail system. This additional road is the SOU THERN Railway System which tapped a much larger territory of Dixie and reached into the Piedmont to Lynchburg, Roanoke, Greensboro, Winston - Salem, Charlotte, Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and on into New Orleans. Further the Southern also tapped into Augusta, Aiken, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and west into Memphis. As a result the Southern fielded six more hot - shot "flagships" via Atlanta and/or the Norfolk and Western Railway plus three more working class main line "locals". Southern's fleet consisted of:

  • The Crescent Limited #37/38
  • The Piedmont Limited #33/34
  • Aiken/Augusta and Asheville Specials (combined) #31/32
  • Washington - Chattanooga - Birmingham - New Orleans #41/42
  • New York - Washington - Bristol - Knoxville - Chattanooga - Birmingham - Memphis - New Orleans #17/18
  • Memphis Special #25/26

       (These last three were dispatched from Lynchburg to Bristol over the N&W Railway via Roanoke, Pulaski and Abingdon.) In addition the working class main line locals were:

  • Washington - Atlanta Express #39/40
  • New York - Washington - Atlanta Express #29/30
  • Washington - Atlanta - New Orleans Express #35/36

       All of this conglomeration of trains from Dixie via the three independent railway systems - The Coast Line - the Seaboard - and the Southern poured dozens of New York bound Pullman sleepers into Washington and imposed a mighty burden on the Pennsy (PRR). True, some sleepers did terminate in Washington, but there was still a huge number which had to be ferried beyond over 200 miles on in to New York City.

       But I must tell you the Pennsy was well set up to handle such a massive traffic flow. Their world famous 225 miles of mostly four - tracked main line (now the Northeast Corridor of Amtrak) between Washington's Union Station (with its engine terminal at nearby "Ivy City" - adjacent to New York Avenue) on the south end and New York City's 32th Street "Pennsylvania Station" in mid Manhattan between 7th and 8th Avenues on the north end (with car maintenance "Sunnyside Yard" across East River - via tunnel - on Long Island in Queens/Brooklyn). But had it not been for the fact that this 225 mile "race track" was electrified (in the early 1930's) and equipped with 11000 volt single phase AC catenary (albeit 25 cycle rather than 60) with over a hundred (139 eventually) modern Raymond Loewy styled streamlined GG1 locomotives the Pennsy would have been ill equipped to handle such a load.

       Those magnificent GG1 locomotives utilized a "2 - C+C - 2" wheel arrange - ment with six powered axles - each propelled by a twin AC series type motor pair. Each GG1 could and did pound the 151 pound (per yard - heaviest rail ever used) rail regularly at 90 to 100 mph with 18 to 25 trailing heavy weight cars totalling some 1500 to 2000 tons. Each locomotive had a "continuous" horsepower rating of 4620 hp (385 hp per each of twelve motor armatures), but momentarily they could about double that amount - 8500 hp - for a short time - several minutes - and could lay 84% excess power right down on the rail at any time. A hearty acceleration was vitally necessary following a station stop as often a following train would run on as little as 20 minute headway behind the fellow ahead of him. An early test of a GG1 with a single test car turned in an acceleration of 1.55 mphps (up to 100 mph in 64.5 seconds).

BUT BACK TO THE SCENE AT GOLDSBORO...

       So we find that ACL's #41 in the early morning hours at Goldsboro and headed for Wilmington was graced with two of that horde of New York and Washington originated sleepers which had been sped south during the wee hours of the night via the Pennsy and the RF&P. Pretty important traffic!! So much so that four hour layover for #41 in Rocky Mount would of necessity be extended any time the Coast Line's Palmetto Limited #83 happened to be running late. One of these two Wilmington bound sleepers came south out of New York on Pennsy #149 which had a 45 minute scheduled connection in Washington with RF&P's #83 and the RF&P's #83 had another 35 minute connection in Richmond with the Coast Line's #83 and an hour and 15 minute connection in Rocky Mount with #41 for a total of 2 1/2 hours between New York and Wilmington to account for any delays on the Pennsy, the RF&P plus three switching movements in Washington, Richmond and Rocky Mount and all within a 590 mile total trip distance.

       How come you say Wilmington, North Carolina rated two sleepers brought in by #41? Because the Coast Line's general offices were at that time located there and on up until 1960, so some pretty important offi cials made this their preferred mode of travel.

       But on my fledgling trip to GRANFA'S I had to watch out for my own time. (I didn't want to get left in Goldsboro while I was admiring all of that Coast Line activity!) My own train trip was about to start out on Southern's #21 behind that green and gold trimmed pacific! Number 21 had a departure time of 6:35 AM. But on a few occasions the timing worked out that I did have a chance before #21 left to watch Coast Line's #41 "stomp" out of town in a "huff and a hurry".

       I'd be standing beside that ACL engine and suddenly I'd hear the engine's air signal whistle let out with two sharp shrill "WHEEEPF WHEEPF!!" which meant the conductor back in the train was telling the engineer that everything back here is loaded, buttoned up and ready to "HIGH BALL!!" so let's get going!! Goose bumps flickered all up and down my frame as I watched that (to me) wonderful sight of sound - steam - smoke - and fury!! Her stack storming like a bull - brass bell clanging up on her smoke box brow - steam squirting briefly from her cylinder cocks - dynamo whirring up on top of her boiler - one of her pop valve spitting into the breaking dawn and wheel flanges squealing and screaming and squawling as she maneuvered through the cross over and out onto the main line south!!! It was like a stampede!! (It would take at least fifteen minutes before those goose bumps could even think about subsiding). No wonder!! I'd never before seen such a sight and was I thrilled!!!

       I had to quickly regain my composure and run back along the walkway to climb up on one of 21's coaches. Once I got aboard I could always then have time to find a preferred right seat where I'd quickly sit down and try to catch my breath and give my heart time to slow down from the subsiding emotion I'd been feeling. Soon enough it would be back to its normal pace and relaxation would settle in. I'd find myself thinking about those events I'd just witnessed for the rest of the day - reliving the excitement and wishing I could see it all over again!!

       All west bound Southern trains had to back out of the station and on up the Coast Line's lead track for a fraction of a mile or so - past a switch. At this point the Southern's flagman - who had already dropped off of one of the rear cars - would let the engine back up past him, then he'd "open the gate" (flip the switch). The engineer would reverse the Walschaert valve gear on his Ps2 pacific 4 - 6 - 2, open up the throttle and here we'd go .... and for me I was now .......HEADED FOR GRANFA'S HOUSE!!!!..some 200 miles and nine hours away!!

       Of course the flagman who'd just been "on the ground" would have to catch an open vestibule hand rail - swing himself up inside - close the hatch trap door and the vestibule door - latch it, and he could then sit down until we got all the way to Raleigh - some 48 miles away.

       This portion of my trip was over the eastern leg of the Southern's Danville Division. After traversing a long gentle curve to the right the roadbed straightened out into a straight - as - an - arrow alignment for some twenty miles up beyond Wilson Mills. First a flag stop at Rose - then Princeton - Pine Level and then the junction with the Coast Line's main line at Selma. As old #21 stopped at Selma often the coach I'd be sitting in would spot my seat right at the point where the ACL's double track "race track" ran right through my seat!! LORDY!! If a Coast Line train should happen to come barrelling either north or south I'd be a sitting duck!! It was scary to think about - especially for a preteenager like I was. I shuddered to think about one those Richmond - Jacksonville hot shots coming directly at the bull's eye !!! where I was sitting !!! Fortunately Selma was but a brief stop for #21 and we'd soon be on our way for Raleigh and an 8:00 AM arrival.

       But coming into Selma there'd be a small freight yard with steam engine facilities - coal chute - water tank - ash pit - supply and lubrication house as well as a turntable. Here I'd usually see one of the Southern's freight hogs - a forty - eight hundred (4800) class Ms4. From Selma the Southern ran over the Coast Line main line to South Rocky Mount thence over to Tarboro and from there straight up to Pinner's Point (Portsmouth). They had a regular freight run from Spencer (on the Southern main line just north of Salisbury) to Pinner's Point called the "Cotton Cade".

       Somewhere between Selma and Raleigh you'd get the definite sensation that we were leaving behind the flat coastal plain region and were entering into a few rolling hills - the beginning of the Piedmont.

RALEIGH

       Glory Be! At Raleigh we encountered the second of those Richmond - Florida thoroughfares - this one being the Seaboard main line. Only this time we would pull into a merged junction at the Boylan Street Bridge with a busy interlocking tower controlling the junction. Here we had to pull up far enough for our rear end to clear the switch, and then start backing up as if we were going to run backwards - north - up the Seaboard's double track main - only to be shunted off to our left and into the Raleigh Union Station lead track. But this lead soon split into two more and those two each in turn into two more making for a four track set up right into the Union Station which sat at the corner of Martin and Harrington Streets.

       Of these four parallel station tracks the one to the south was for Southern trains, the middle two were for the Seaboard, and one to the north was quite a bit shorter and was for the Norfolk Southern which ran a daily trip to Norfolk (#2 out at 7:30 AM) and received one from Norfolk in the evening (#1 in at 6:20 PM). Another feature of this arrangement was a spur off the lead track which fed to a turn table and a wooden water tank. The turn table was for the Norfolk Southern's engines and for the Southern's turn around run from Greensboro. The Southern's station track ran right along side of Martin Street with a decorative iron fence and a concrete walkway separating the two. Between the two Seaboard tracks was another walkway and between the Norfolk Southern track and the Seaboard tracks was a third walkway. Each of the walkways was protected by a steel column supported protective roof.

       (As an aside: - In later years - 1942 - when I was a sophomore engineering student at NC State one of my friends, a class - mate and railfan buddy - Donald Gaither - and I would often hike from the NC State campus after supper down the double track Seaboard/Southern - jointly operated - main line to the Raleigh station just to watch the evening train activity. Often there would be four trains in there at the same time: (1) the Norfolk Southern in from Norfolk, (2) Southern's #22 east to Goldsboro, and (3) and (4) two Seaboard trains - one northbound and one southbound!! On one occasion there was even a fifth - the second section of one of the Seaboard trains waiting for his first section to leave so he could get into the station. Since this was the time of WWII there was extra traffic being generated by troops moving from one part of the country to another. On another occasion with the Palmland #192 northbound due in Raleigh at 8:30 PM and the Sun Queen #107 southbound due in at 9:25 PM. Stuck in the middle was #9 the "Cotton States Special" southbound due in at 9:05 PM. So it's not hard to imagine a situation where you'd get a traffic tie - up in the early evening at the Raleigh Union Station. This is about the time the Seaboard decided to build its own separate passenger station over near Peace College and adjacent to their Johnson Street roundhouse facilities..... plus the fact that there was no required pulling in and backing out or vice - versa. In addition - they could service the engines with out much trouble - coal - sand - and water since the Johnson Street roundhouse and coal wharf was just across the station tracks from the station. But before they did it was like HELLS - A - POPPING! at the old Union Station, and it made for an exciting time for two died - in - the - wool railfan nuts like us!!!

        To finish off such an event Donald and I would hike over to Hillsboro Street right where the Seaboard double track passed through a deep cut as it went under Hillsboro Street. There we'd stop at the "Toddle House" - a small but well known fast food chain establishment - for some their famous chocolate pie! Then right outside there would be the city bus stop and we'd catch the Hillsboro Street bus back out to the State campus - tired - full - sleepy - and happy!!)

       But back to my trip to Granfa's:

       Raleigh was only a ten minute stop for #21 and so we'd shortly be pulling out and on up the slight grade on the righthand track of the double track Seaboard/Southern line towards Cary. The railroad passed right by the State Central Prison, Pullen Park, and then it split the NC State campus right smack in two as it ventured through another deep cut underneath the bridge carrying one of the campus' main thoroughfares and then out into the open where during all my Freshman year at State I could watch the train activity from my room - #133 - in "Eighth" dorm where Vernon Collier and I roomed together on the northwest corner of the dorm.

       Next was a major high voltage electrical power station owned by Carolina Power and Light on the right, then Method (a siding fronting on the Meredith College campus), next the prominent transmitting towers of radio station WPTF and finally a railroad split where the Seaboard and Southern parted company at Fetner (Cary). Here the Seaboard dropped back to a single track line toward Sanford and Hamlet, thence on to Jackson ville or Atlanta as the Southern continued on toward Durham.

       At East Durham came the freight yard where I'd see a couple of Durham and Southern 2 - 10 - 0's (they ran from Durham to Dunn - only some 56.8 miles) plus Norfolk and Western motive power mixed in with freight cars in the yard. Then came the Durham Station proper and a short stop.

       Leaving Durham we would be entering a countryside with series of small towns mostly all based on the textile industry and all seemingly housed in old pre - WWI brick mill buildings all the way (55 miles) to Greensboro.

       There'd be Hillsboro - Efland - Mebane - Haw River - Graham - Burlington - Glen Raven - Elon College - Gibsonville - McLeansville and finally Greensboro.

       Number 21's pace from Durham up to about Gibsonville would be at a leisurely gait since the distances between successive stops was so short (any where from 1.7 miles between Graham and Burlington to 5.9 miles between Mebane and Haw River) that he hardly had the distance or time to get up much beyond 30 mph. But once we cleared that last stop at Gibsonville there was a 14.7 mile run on into Greensboro (McLeansville was a flag stop and we often didn't even slow down for it), he could get us up to running speed of 50 or so. This pace we kept up right on through the outskirts of Greensboro. It was at about this point that the old black porter would come through each coach with the mandatory announcement that Greensboro was the next station stop and it would be necessary for any passengers going north or south to get off and change trains.

       His ritualistic chant would sound like: "Greensboro next station stop! Change for the North or the South! Change for Reidsville - Danville - Lynchburg - Charlottesville Manassas - Alexandria - Washington - Baltimore - Philadelphia New York and points North! Change for High Point - Thomasville - Lexington - Salisbury - Concord - Charlotte - Spartanburg - Greenville - Atlanta and points South!"

       It always raised goose bumps down my frame to hear him repeat this:

GREENSBORO!

       Ah!! Greensboro!!! Here's where we'd intersect the third Washington to Dixie railroad system - the Southern's own main line. It was similar to the setup at Raleigh where we'd pull into a merged track of that mainline, stop and then have to back up into the station tracks. This was right at the Elm Street crossing. Greensboro is so hilly that even though Elm Street crossed at grade the station proper fronted on a street a full story below the track level, and the passenger access came through an underground tunnel and then up stairs to reach the trains. Above the station there was a building section which housed the Railway Express Agency. Feeding off of the mainline were three or four tracks for express transfers to bulk express cars parked there for that purpose. The REA had little rubber tired Fordson - like tractors which scurried around here and there pulling strings of four - wheeled wagons loaded with parcels and shipments of all kinds.

       We arrived in Greensboro at 11:00 AM, but #21 wasn't due to leave again until 12:15PM a full hour and a quarter wait. Well at least I thought I can see the mainline trains come right along side my coach as I waited for the time to pass. Unfortunately nothing was even scheduled through Greensboro - either north or south - at that time of day except #36 due in at 11:15 and out at 11:25AM. Just my luck! Number 36 ran late most of the time but one year I do remember that he came barrelling through just minutes before 12:15 - our departure time - and but when he did - Great Scott!!! - He was double headed!!! Two Ps4's on the head end and I drank in the sight of those two gorgeous Virginia - green engines trimmed in gold with wheel rims highlighted by fresh white paint!! Like a flash they were gone.

       But during my wait several years I'd get off my coach to stroll around a little. The first time I went up to see our own engine that had pulled us up from Goldsboro - Lo and behold ! - IT WASN'T THERE!! Where the heck did it go and why?? I hadn't noticed back in Goldsboro but on the side of the cab down at the bottom below the engine's own number - one of the 1200's or 1300's - there was the name "Danville" painted in gold. Later I learned that this meant it was assigned to the Danville Division and #21 was going to be traveling next on the Winston Salem Division when we left Greensboro.

       The Danville Division engine had uncoupled from our train and had gone on west 2.8 miles to Pomona - the engine facility and freight yard serving Greensboro. Pomona is listed in the employees' time table by the symbol "WYTCO" indicating Water - Wye - Turntable - Coal - and Office. Soon - about 15 minutes before departure time - here'd come another 1200 (or 1300) - another Ps2 - but this one of course was a Winston Salem Division engine and we'd have it for the rest of my trip.

       In order to "work" the express cars around the REA tracks the Southern usually had an 0 - 6 - 0 switch engine - a class A7 - 1695 maybe - assigned to that area. Some of them had a "bob - tail" tender with a sloping rear end. Also the Southern in those days would assign a particular engine to a given engineer which led to the practice of the engine crew dolling up, decorating or otherwise fancying up their engine by mounting a brass eagle on the front of the smoke box, adding brass candle sticks on either side of the headlight, having the paint shop add gold decorative trim on the cab sides and tender sides.

       One year I remember that while we waited in Greensboro, there was the sound of foot steps on the roof of my coach and the simultaneous singing and (alternatively) whistling of the old tune "There's an Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlor". I never did find out who that was or what he was doing up on the roof - just one of those faintly recalled incidents of long ago.

       Another feature of the Greensboro scene was the presence of the little Southern subsidiary - the Atlantic and Yadkin Railroad - which ran from Greensboro north through Stokesdale - Walnut Cove - Rural Hall - King - Pinnacle - Pilot Mountain - and on to Mount Airy. Southbound it ran through Climax - Liberty - Siler City - Bonlee - Bear Creek - Gulf - and on to Sanford, where it connected with an ACL branch which reached on into Wilmington. They even had an RPO mail route in the early days which in Dad's (Pop's) post office vernacular called it "Mount Airy 'n' Will". The A&Y RR came down through the northern part of the city - ran underneath the Southern main line at right angles, and then had to back up through a wye type connection to that same main line right at Elm Street and the passenger station. Their motive power consisted of twelve used Southern freight 2 - 8 - 0's classes H1, H3, and F1's and three second hand RF&P 1903 4 - 6 - 0's acquired in 1929.

       Greensboro is a very progressive city now as it was sixty years ago in the early 1930's. In those days they wanted to provide inner city bus - or trolley - service to meet their growing need for public transportation. To meet this need, the local public power utility - Duke Power - would be a ready source for electrically powered vehicles in contrast to gasoline powered buses. But of course trolleys would have meant laying rail track in the middle of the city streets plus stringing overhead trolley wire as well. Duke Power came up with a novel solution - rubber tired trackless trolleys which could maneuver beyond the confines of a tracked system. It meant having two overhead wires instead of just one but that still did not scotch the deal. So to my amazement when riding through Greensboro on the train where I could view the main street thoroughfares there were these strange looking vehicles the likes of which I'd never even heard of - let alone seen. (My my! The things a body couldn't see when riding on a train!)

       At long last I felt the unmistakable movement of my coach which meant the Winston Salem Division engine was finally coupling onto our head end. Then I could detect movement underneath the car of the brake beams and rods tensioning up. The engineer was energizing the train (air) line with 90 psi air pressure from the engine followed by a required brake test to see if the air connections were all proper. They were. A few late passengers came up from downstairs and got on board, found seats and settled down. The new train crew showed up and in a few minutes we were moving off from Greensboro, onto the main line for the 2.8 mile journey to Pomona where our Winston Salem Division track held straight ahead while the double track main line (still the Danville Division) veered away to the south (left) for its connection with the Charlotte Division at Salisbury on the way to Atlanta some 346.5 miles down the line. (Pomona is - in the 1990's - the Amtrak station location serving the Greensboro area.)

       In this short three mile stretch there were sidings, spurs and sundry tracks serving warehouses, factories, coal yards, sand and gravel yards, bulk oil dealers etc. Greensboro was - and is - a thriving business center. Just beyond Pomona was Terra Cotta - a plant where they made all kinds of baked clay products such as block forms and many many kinds and shapes of terra cotta pipe as well as roofing tiles and parapet caps. Then out into the suburbs and on to Guilford College, Friendship (the location of the major air terminal for that area), Kernersville and the outskirts of Winston Salem.

WINSTON - SALEM

       If I had thought Greensboro to be a hilly place - well, Winston - Salem was even more so. While the railroad is always built on a comparatively level profile, the landscape between Greensboro and Winston Salem began to vary from a deep ravine or valley - with or without a stream - on one side - to a high bluff or steep cliff on the other side. For instance, on entering the outskirts of Winston Salem U S route 421 (now I - 40) passes overhead as the railroad runs beneath in a deep cut in the hillside. Then almost immediately thereafter the railroad skirts along the bank of a lake - Winston - Salem's municipal water source - dammed up Salem Creek to form Salem Lake. A short distance further on with a steep bluff on the right side (north) Southern #21 passed by the railroad's engine terminal facility on the left with its roundhouse, commissary, oil house, stores (supply) house, yardmaster's office and crew's locker room which was adjacent to the steam heating boiler house. Then in another mile or so #21 entered into the passenger station area. At this point about all that could be seen from my coach window were four or five parallel tracks, a steep hillside on each side and a couple of two - flight high stairs reaching up to the station concourse overhead at least fifty feet above the track level.

       Number 21 was due in Winston - Salem at 1:02 PM and out at 1:15 - ample time for crews to change and for passenger and head end traffic interchange. While it seemed an extremely short run for a crew change (Greensboro to Winston - Salem), in truth these short run crews had to make more than one round trip for a day's pay. Multiple runs were necessitated partly by the fact an extremely important customer - R J Reynolds Tobacco Co - had its headquarters in Winston - Salem and in order for its executives to make their many necessary and frequent trips to and from New York, their transportation obviously was via the Southern main line Pullman trains to and from Greensboro. Therefore it didn't take long for the Southern to initiate connecting schedules between Greensboro and Winston - Salem and to provide through New York - Winston Salem Pullman sleepers for this prestigious customer. As a consequence there were eight daily trips between the two cities, half of which carried a dedicated 10 section - one drawing room - two compartment accommodation.

       For instance Number 1 connected in Greensboro at 6:45AM (#29 southbound from New York) and brought a sleeper to Winston Salem bright and early at 7:50. Likewise #1 also picked up a similar sleeper off of #39 (due in Greensboro at 5:43AM) from Washington. Although this latter sleeper had an extra hour of layover before #1 was scheduled to leave, its patrons no doubt slept right on through that time but were ready to detrain promptly just before 8 o'clock (7:50 AM).

       In a reverse fashion #22 (5:00PM) picked up a late afternoon sleeper in Winston for delivery to the Piedmont Limited - #34 - in Greensboro for next day's early morning arrival in New York (6:55AM). Likewise #8 was set up to ferry a late evening New York sleeper (lv WS at 9:55PM) over to Greensboro for transfer to the Aiken - Augusta - Asheville Special - #32 - at 10:53PM to provide a before noon arrival in New York at 10:55AM.

       So scattered throughout the day were six "shuttle" trips plus the two through runs - (#21 and #22). The earliest left Greensboro at 7:00 in the morning and the last one arrived back in Greensboro at 10:35PM.

       The Winston Salem passenger station had two lower levels above the track elevation. These intermediate floors were used for (1) US mail and their trucks and (2) Railway Express Agency and their vehicles. A wide swerving sweeping descending curved driveway from the street above down to the track level provided a steep access for vehicular traffic.

       On several of my annual trips to GRANFA'S house the stop at Winston Salem provided for me a special added bonus. Aunt Lillian made certain that she met the train so we could have a few moments of joyous interchange of greetings, repartee and affections. She was always a delight for me and I expect I was to her also. She always had words of comfort, concern, interest and curiosity and I always revelled in the presence of this my "fairy God Mother" personified!! To say that I looked forward each time to see her would be a GROSS understatement!

       Departure time of 1:15 soon came and #21 - with a new train and engine crews - moved out in the direction of the principal part of the down town section and plunged into a large complex of closely spaced factory buildings. But in less than a tenth of a mile a set of tracks moved in from my left side (south) and merged into our "thoroughfare". Actually these merging tracks formed an "X" crossing as they emerged out from under our train to the right. This was the northern end of a second ary road - Winston Salem Southbound Railroad - (WSSB) a jointly owned road (50/50) by the Norfolk & Western and the Atlantic Coast Line. Its southern terminus was Wadesboro - some 90 miles to the south - and provided an interconnecting link between Roanoke (N&W) and Florence SC (ACL).

       Emphasizing the hilly nature of Winston Salem I noted the railroad passed over US 52 (to the south and now a four lane major artery) but in just a few hundred yards, the rails (now) pass directly underneath the main east - west artery I - 40. Vehicular traffic coming south on US 52 and wishing to make a transition to the east on I - 40 must now make a sharp coiling circle turn of some 270 degrees - 3/4 of a full circle - to account for the sharp difference in elevation of the two highway routes.

       Still just a few hundred yards further around the railroad's wide sweeping curve to the right toward the factory complex and bringing with it the WSSB - somewhere between 1st and 2nd Streets - the N&W's "Pun - kin Vine" the Roanoke - Winston stem veered off to the right taking the WSSB with it. In those days of steam powered passenger trains the N&W ran two round trips daily to and from Roanoke - 122 miles to the north. They even ran midday Pullmans sleepers (10 section - 3 double bedroom accommodations) from Winston Salem to and from Cincinnati via the N&W main line train "Pocahontas" (#3 and #4) and connecting at Roanoke.

       Number 21 continued on around that curve circling a bowl shaped depression where the Greyhound bus station now sits and toward the RJReynolds factories. Suddenly the overpowering smell of freshly cured tobacco permeated every thing. At that time of day - shortly after lunch hour - Winston Salem's cigarette facilities were a bee hive of activity. Peering from my coach window I could see inside several of the buildings - through open loading doors - where workers inside - black and white together - were busy - busy! You could see and "feel" the industriousness just in passing by on the train. In the streets and along side the low level loading platforms long flatbed RJReynolds trucks were busy transferring bulk loads here and there. The Southern's siding spurs proliferated toward each building - ending up either at a shed roof covered high loading platform with double doors into the building interior or - in some cases piercing right through a railroad sized opening in the end of the building for weather protected loading.

       About the time we crossed Liberty Street another railroad junction came into view as the Southern's North Wilksboro line veered off to the right at Winston Junction for a 75 mile extension to the north and west and Rural Hall, Siloam, Crutchfield, Elkin and finally the terminus at North Wilksboro. Meanwhile #21 continued on immediately ahead and shortly into an acute lefthand semi - circle - bending around a particularly hilly knob on which were situated lower class homes and residences in this northeast section of the near inner city. Then another snaking turn - first right and then to the left finally headed out through the higher class residential areas of Hawthorne, Ardmore, and Stratford Roads.

       Back in town as #21 wound slowly in and among the busy RJReynolds tobacco factories some of the east - west streets we crossed were at grade where it was necessary for the engineer to blow his Ps2's whistle. The sound would echo and ricochet up and down those canyon walls formed by the buildings and invariably make more goose bumps form all over me. In addition there were more than a couple cross streets where the street had to rise on a steep incline to the next block. I thought of this in later years after I had qualified for my driver's license - and that was in the days of clutches and gear shifts - no automatic transmissions back then - the most extreme test of my driving ability - or anybody's - would come when I had to stop at a red light which was also on one of those sharp hills. The trick was - when the light turned green - and with my left foot on the clutch and the right one on the brake and the transmission shifted into low gear - to quickly release the brake by moving my right foot over to the accelerator pedal - revving up the engine - while simultaneously easing my left foot off of the clutch pedal to engage - promptly but ever so cautiously - the revving up engine with the transmission. If this was accomplished in "jig" time then the car (1) would not roll back into the vehicle behind me, and (2) the engine would not choke out and stall but would slowly and carefully overcome gravity and move on up the hill. It had to be done in a split second and with a deftness which took many attempts to perfect.

       Finally the last remembrance I have of Winston Salem was of the tallest building in North Carolina - the RJReynolds Building. It could be seen from the train at one or two of the street crossings, and it was also visible from some spots which were as much as 20 or 25 miles away. The city fathers were justly proud of their city as there was a friendly competition between Winston Salem, Greensboro and Charlotte as to which was the most prestigious city regarding the largest population. Of course Winston Salem never won that but they always said "Well at