Ray and Norma Henry, former area residents, recently recalled when the peaceful early morning hours of July 10, 1950 suddenly turned into a ghastly scene of carnage that claimed the lives of three local people.
In its heyday, Johnson City’s Southern Railway Depot was a scene of constant activity as travelers embarked and disembarked passenger trains.
It was bound to happen – the first automobile wreck in Johnson City. According to Dorothy Hamill, former writer for the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, the incident occurred in 1913 and drew a crowd of curious onlookers much like a collision produces today.
I received a copy of a time card for trains and trolleys at the Union and Carnegie Passenger Depot for February 12, 1893. It consisted of a long narrow sheet of paper, folded six times for ease of use and printed on all sides containing 23 local advertisements and nine railway systems:
The Jan. 30, 1908 Comet proclaimed in bold letters: “New Railroad Will Be Great.” A subtitle further stated “South And Western To Be The Best Built, Means Much In The Development of East Tennessee.” This early railroad would later be labeled the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad (CC&O), eventually becoming known simply as the Clinchfield.
Local history can sometimes be found in unlikely places, such as a May 1931 Electric Traction magazine article that provided surprising particulars about the city’s switchover from streetcars to buses. Also included were two photos showing the interior and exterior of the new mass transit vehicles.
“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley; Ding, ding, ding went the bell.” These familiar words are from “The Trolley Song,” the featured musical composition in the 1944 film classic, “Meet Me In St. Louis.”
The Jan. 1951 edition of Trains magazine (Kalmbach Publishing Co.) contained a most attention-grabbing article about the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) Railway abandoning the narrow gauge portion of its line.
I love to receive correspondence from folks who have experienced firsthand the history of yesteryear. Such was the case when Martha Culp, widow of Dr. D.P. Culp, former president of ETSU sent me this letter:
Old newspapers fascinate me, even perusing events that were casually reported in the paper and then rapidly forgotten by readers. The Dec. 14, 1926 Johnson City Staff-News carried three interesting transportation news items.