"Mountain Memories" Page 15
These were the fortunate ones. There's no end to the tales that could be told of the dangers, troubles, and sorrows these people went through.
Not many loggers were killed by timber. They had lived in the
forest all their lives and were experts on felling trees. But
there were many accidents on the railroad, and the women back in the shanty cars never knew if it was their husband that was killed when the train whistle gave out a long mournful wail which was the signal the engineer gave when a man was killed. No matter what time of day or night it happened to be, if there were problems on the railroad, workmen had to get up and go. Many were the times my parents were awakened by the yell, "Preacher, preacher, get up! Trouble on the railroad!"
The little trains that traveled up and down the rails that wound around through the mountains were, in some ways, a blessing to these mountain people. Whenever they needed supplies from Tellico Plains they simply made an order, fastened it to the end of a long pole, and stuck it out to the fireman or engineer; the man on the train grabbed it, took it to Tellico when he took a load of logs, got it filled, and brought it back on his next trip.
In Tellico there were company stores. If they would rather have it, the company gave the men scrip for the time they had worked out and they could take it to the company store. Sometimes a man would go to the company store for groceries only to find someone else had bought on his time. There was no way of knowing who had done it, and the man just had to work out some more scrip to get what his family needed.
The men rode the train to and from their work place part of the time. It was easier to swing onto a moving train than it was to jump off. My father has told me of the first time he ever jumped from a moving train, saying it was the hardest fall he ever took. He was knocked from his feet and spread out on the ground. He finally learned to jump in the direction of the moving train so his balance was sustained, and then he could laugh at the amateurs fall. It became an old saying with my family about the man who jumped from the train with his lunch bag in his hand. He hit the ground and rolled down the hillside and found there were no bones broken. He grumbled that he had "Broke a brand new teacup and a little blue bowl."
The trains were numbered and each whistle had a different sound. Even the children caught on to the different sounds of the