I was my grandmother's admiring grandchild. As a youngster, I studied every expression on her face, every piece of jewelry and garment she selected to wear for the day, and every way her past left its mark on her.
I had to ask her one day, "Granny, what is that grayish spot on your knee?" "Its old coal soot!" she replied.
Granny reminded me that her father had been a train engineer with Norfolk & Western Railroad during the early 1900's. As a child, she loved to ride the trains pulled by the coal-powered steam locomotives of the time, especially when driven by her dad.
One day, she was sporting a skinned knee from a fall as many children do on occasion. During the day’s train ride, the steam locomotive was building up power, and as usual a little of the coal soot sifted out of the puffing smoke and onto the passengers. Granny's skinned knee received a good sprinkling, which was eventually healed over. The shadow of soot remained there on her knee for the rest of her life. It was a fond reminder to her.
Granny loved trains! Her dad was the apple of her eye for many reasons, and she thrilled at the memory of him driving while she rode. Tweetsie Railroad was always so much fun for her as it was the perfect way for her to relive those times with her family.
About four years ago, I started a new hobby of genealogy. Granny would be proud at the amount of research I've done. As a result of my hobby, I've developed a keener appreciation for the past. I jump at any opportunity to experience, first-hand, a piece of America's history. So, I had a Golden Rail Season Pass at Tweetsie this past year; and, every time I’d go, I’d see Granny’s thrill for trains in every young child’s eyes.
Photograph of ET&WNC's Engine #8 at Blevins, Tennessee depot, 1910
The Cy Crumley Collection
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“I visited Tweetsie as a kid in the early 70's. I am so thrilled to have found it thriving! I would love to take my kids for a visit.”
-Guest from New Hampshire