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“The conductor helped the passengers into the wooden coaches, the varnished interiors illuminated by the soft glow of the oil lamps that hung form the ceilings of the clerestory roofs,” writes author Doug Mc Guinn, who has penned several books about railroads in the region.
“Rambunctious children, farm wives in cotton print dresses, and scruffy men in dirty bib overalls filed down the narrow aisles, along with the confident gentlemen in top hats, long-tailed coats, and stiff-collared shirts; and urbane ladies, who wore hoop skirts, lace blouses that covered slim arms and slender necks, high-laced shoes, and big hats decorated with ostrich feathers.” The seats in the coach car were upholstered—with red plush, said one source—but often dirty, stained by the cinders of the steam engine’s coal furnace, remembered Eleanor Greer, 87, of the Green Cove community in Washington County, Va. “We didn’t dress up back then; we just wore our regular old clothes.
Jones, Alexei Krindatch, Richie Stanley and Richard H.
Although many of Link’s photos were carefully set up, old Maude, with her sledge load of oak stove-wood, just happened along as the train was approaching, and Link took advantage of the situation.
He asked brothers Gene and Roy Hampton, who were hauling the wood to the family’s farm nearby, to wait a few minutes for the train.
The railroad would change hands and names a couple of times before becoming the Virginia-Carolina Railway Company under the control of W. Abingdon became a thriving city, “a railroad center and junction point,” writes Mc Guinn. Shacks built along the New River housed the laborers as construction trudged onward toward Todd, located near the southern border of North Carolina’s most northwestern county. Clyde Ray, a resident of the Brownwood community who helped build the railroad.
In 1911, according to Mc Guinn’s research, the Norfolk & Western Railway Company bought up 50 percent interest in the Virginia-Carolina, and the line extended to Creek Junction—near the Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina borders. News of the coming railroad regularly occupied the Todd community column in the Watauga County newspaper, The Watauga Democrat. which has just completed the grading of a section of the V. “He and his son who lives nearby, standing in the backyard of the Ray farm, pointed to the hillside where a few stumps remained,” wrote Jones.