"Mountain Memories" Page 20
The little mountain choo-choo trains ran on steam made by burning wood in the earlier years of the lumber company, but in these "modern" days had started burning coal. As I remember it being told to me, the loggers had the engines named "One spot," "Two spots," and so on.
The Babcock Lumber Company was living on borrowed time. The forest was stripped of all the virgin timber. Huge stumps throughout the hills were all that was left to prove that the tales told by these people were true.
Hearing the mournful sound of the train's highball whistle echoing up and down the valleys was a lonesome sound but that too was only a matter of time. With most of the forest already cut over and only the young timber left, the lumber company knew it would soon have to close down and move to another location. With this in mind they began to neglect their job; the railroads were going down from the lack of upkeep, they were not being cared for as they had once been and the trestles were getting dangerous.
A man by the name of Wade Caughorn had been the chief train engineer for a long time. Now he was afraid to take his train across the weak bridge, but he still wanted his job so he came up with the idea of getting out of the train and sending the engine across to see if the bridge would hold it up. When the train got across he would somehow catch up and swing back on and take control of the engine again. This plan worked fine for a while but the engineer became careless after the train continued to go across the trestles and nothing happened. He started riding the engine across once again, but tragedy was the end. One day the trestle collapsed and Wade Caughorn died.
It makes one think how strange life is. It's as if the man was put here for one purpose and his job was finished. By this time the Self family had scattered, mostly to different places in Monroe County. Louisa and Harvey, along with their three sons Sherman, McKinley and Arthur, had moved to Madisonville. The two daughters Ada and Mary were married and still living in the mountains, but not for long.