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The Tallulah Falls Railway

Posted by | August 14, 2015

It was born from a foreclosed company, and in the end had so little value as a railroad that it was simply abandoned rather than sold. Georgia’s Tallulah Falls Railway owners had a grand plan to connect to various other southeastern lines, but that plan was never implemented, most likely because the mountainous terrain would have required many millions in construction costs. The TF’s nickname was the Rabun Gap Route, although is it any surprise that some local people jokingly called it the “Total Failure”?

Tallulah Falls RailwayThe original line between Cornelia and Tallulah Falls was built by the Northeastern Railroad of Georgia, a railroad chartered in 1870 by a group of Athens businessmen to build a line between Athens and Clayton. It reached Tallulah Falls in 1882. As the northern terminus of the rail line for over twenty years, Tallulah Falls became a popular resort town. Trading opportunities also increased for this remote region and the depot served as a social center.

This line was purchased by the company that would soon become the Southern Railway, who were mostly interested in the southern end of the line as a way to tie Athens on to their Atlanta-to-East Coast mainline.

The Blue Ridge and Atlantic bought the northern end of this line from the pre-Southern Railway in 1887 as the first step in their effort to connect Savannah with Knoxville, which was supposed to use a new route to get from Tallulah Falls to Clayton, then use the route surveyed prior to the Civil War by the Blue Ridge Railroad to connect Clayton to Franklin, NC.

The Blue Ridge and Atlantic failed in 1897, and The Tallulah Falls Railway was organized the following year to take over the former’s foreclosed properties. With the financial backing of Southern Railway, the new owners extended the line to Clayton in 1904, to North Carolina in 1906, and to Franklin in 1907. The result was a 57-mile line from Cornelia to Franklin.

Perhaps the most distinguishing single characteristic of the Tallulah Falls Railroad was its fascinating variety of trademark trestles. Forty-two of these massive wooden wonders had to be negotiated along the scenic journey, each having to bear the full weight of a 140,000 lb. locomotive and its heavy load. It is these forty-two trestles which created much of the line’s personality, and more than any other single feature dramatically reflected the type of country that the TF served – rugged, wild and often dangerous.

The trestles of the Tallulah Falls Railroad were quite varied. The shortest of the trestles was approximately 25 feet in length, while the longest is generally considered to be the 940 feet long scenic wonder which skirted the rooftops over the town of Tallulah Falls. The only exception to the wooden trestles along the line was the massive 585 feet long steel and concrete bridge spanning Tallulah Lake.

Though numerous accidents and mishaps occurred along the many TF trestles, most were rather minor. The dangerous reputation these structures held came primarily from two collapses: in 1898 at Panther Creek and in 1927 at Hazel Creek. Both mishaps resulted in fatalities. The accident at Hazel Creek produced some of the railroad’s most memorable and dramatic photographs.

Tallulah Falls RailroadAround the time that the railroad was under construction between Clayton and Franklin, the Southern was considering a grander plan, one which would incorporate the TF and several other existing lines into a new route over the Appalachians to Knoxville, TN. If constructed, the railroad would have continued from Franklin down the Little Tennessee River valley to Southern’s Murphy Branch (Asheville-to-Murphy, NC) near Almond.

From there, trains could proceed a few miles to Bushnell where the Tennessee & Carolina Southern branched off and followed the river 14 miles to Fontana. From Fontana, new tracks would be built alongside the Little Tennessee to Calderwood, where they would join existing lines to Maryville and Knoxville. None of it ever came about.

Passenger service came to an end in 1946. Ongoing repair costs and mounting debt forced the railway to cease operations in 1961; the last freight train ran on March 25 that year. A short section from Cornelia to Demorest remained in operation for several years longer, but was abandoned sometime before 1985.



My thanks to Ed Kelly of Athens, GA for his help on the early history of the Blue Ridge and Atlantic


The chance to pilot the haywagon by myself

Posted by | August 13, 2015

There were plenty of days to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ the summer I worked for the Grant brothers. Lee started by driving the team of horses pulling the wagon to the far corner of the field. The fluffy piles of sun-cured alfalfa hay smelled as wonderful as they looked. I kept my eye on Lee before he got down from the empty wagon. He reached up over his head, looped the free end of the check reins around the tip of the front uprights and tied them in a loose-fitting knot.

Lee instructed me: ‘You stand atop the wagon while George and I do the heavy lifting. We’ll keep the team moving down between two windrows. That way you can build the load from each side.” Two strong men vying for attention kept me hopping as I moved back and forth. They would lift a forkful, lean back and pivot at the right moment so as to exact every possible ounce of leverage as they hefted each pile of hay.

haywagon in West VirginiaBoth ends of the huge platform had a set of vertical uprights to stabilize the load from front to back. Each one was about six feet high. The anterior support was narrow, ladderlike and hinged so it could be lowered out of the driver’s way when the wagon traveled empty. The stationary prop stretching across the rear was different. The two stakes kept the load from shifting and had a single crossbar. The configuration resembled a miniature set of football goal posts.

I labored mightily to carry out the loading plan and made sure each layer of hay was tamped uniformly across the wide hayrack. An even bigger challenge was to methodically see that the build-up was square along the edges and securely tied-in with the middle. The double binding insured that no section was apt to slide off and threaten the stability of the whole load while en route to the barn. Furthermore, if the job of interlacing each forkful of hay had been done properly, the wagon could be easily unloaded in the barn with a two-pronged hay fork penetrating two or more layers at a time.

George hoisted the last pile of hay to top out the center. With a long-handled pitchfork in midair he called out “Oh boy, it’s all I can do to reach you!” The load was so high I was standing on top of the world. It was time for a breathing spell; beads of sweat ran down my face. A big red handkerchief helped wipe away the perspiration. I must have struck a proud stance, for my maneuver caught Lee’s attention.

“You’ve done a fine job topping out that load, Kenneth. Find your way up front and grab hold of the reins. I’ve seen you cruising back and forth to town with Maude hitched to the spring wagon.” The chance to pilot the haywagon by myself just about had me bursting all my shirt buttons. My concentration shifted to driving the team of horses as they strained in their collars. The wagon’s wood creaked as they pulled the massive load through the field and on towards the barn.

—Excerpt from The Day is Far Spent, by Kenneth A. Tabler, Montani Publishing, 2006
b. 1926, Martinsburg, WV


Next thing we know you’ll be endorsing matrimony, the metal zipper and the dial telephone

Posted by | August 12, 2015

“I sweated over my introduction, rewrote it ten times. When I had finished, this, in part, was the text:

“There were Alabama Bankheads in one or another of the houses of Congress for sixty consecutive years. My father was Speaker of the House for four years, served with that body for twenty-five. My grandfather, John, sat in the Senate for thirteen years. My Uncle John spent twelve years of his life in the Upper House. They all died in harness. I would be outraging their memories, I would be faithless to Alabama, did I not vote for Harry Truman. Yes, I’m for Harry Truman, the human being. By the same token I’m against Thomas E. Dewey, the mechanical man.

Tallulah Bankhead greets President Truman and his wife at a 1948 presidential rally in Madison Square Garden. This Associated Press photo was seen in newspapers across the nation.

Tallulah Bankhead greets President Truman and his wife at a 1948 presidential rally in Madison Square Garden. This Associated Press photo was seen in newspapers across the nation.


“Mr. Dewey is neat. Oh, so neat. And Mr. Dewey is tidy. Oh, so tidy. Just once I’d like to see him with his necktie knotted under his ear, his hair rumpled, a gravy stain on his vest, that synthetic smile wiped off his face. It seems a great pity to risk exposing Mr. Dewey to the smells and noises and ills of humanity. Far better to leave him in his cellophane wrapper, unsoiled by contact with the likes of you and me.

“Mr. Dewey is trim and neat and tidy, but is he human? I have my doubts. I have no doubts about Harry Truman. He’s been through the wringer. And by the wringer I mean that 80th Congress. That 80th Congress which ignored his passionate pleas for veterans’ housing, for curbs on inflation, for legislation to aid and comfort the great mass of our population.

“Mr. Truman has made errors, even as you and I. Mr. Dewey makes few errors. Why does Mr. Dewey make few errors? Because, to borrow a phrase from baseball, he plays his position on a dime. He ignores fielding chances unless the ball is hit right at him. He’s a stationary shortstop. Not so Harry Truman. Like all winning players he tries for everything. He ranges far to his right. He ranges far to his left (Careful there, Tallulah!) He races back for Texas Leaguers. He races in for slow rollers. Truman is a team player. Dewey is playing for the averages. Harry Truman doesn’t duck any issues.

“What is Mr. Dewey for? Well, he has come out for one thing that, by his standards of caution, is revolutionary. Again and again he has said that he is for unity. Will all the candidates for disunity please stand?

“Come, come, Mr. Dewey. Act like a grown-up. The next thing we know you’ll be endorsing matrimony, the metal zipper and the dial telephone. If Mr. Dewey has any genius it lies in his ability to avoid expressing an opinion on any controversial subject. Mr. Dewey is the great neutral. Harry Truman is the great partisan—the partisan of our troubled millions.

“In my lifetime I’ve enjoyed many thrills. I’m about to enjoy the greatest one. For now I have the distinguished honor to present to you the President of these United States.”

—excerpt from Tallulah: My Autobiography, 1952, Reprint, Oxford: University of Mississippi Press, 2004.

Huntsville, Alabama-born actress Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (1902-1968) was a staunch Democrat and campaigned for Harry Truman’s reelection in 1948.


Yahoo— Mountain Dew!

Posted by | August 11, 2015

There’s no dispute that a trademark application for a soda named Mountain Dew was filed on November 12, 1948 with the U.S. Patent Office by Hartman Beverage Co. of Knoxville, TN. After that the path of Mountain Dew to its current worldwide popularity breaks into a number of offshoots that parallel, intertwine, and circle back.

Brothers Barney and Ally Hartman, who had moved their business from Augusta, GA, to Knoxville in 1932, initially bottled a lemon-lime mixer they jokingly called Mountain Dew, a 19th century nickname for moonshine, for their own after-hours consumption. Ally Hartman claimed the recipe was his brother’s.

1958 Mountain Dew bottleThe Hartmans took an early prototype of their drink to a 1946 beverage convention in Gatlinburg, TN where they were assured by friends that their product, to them nothing more than a goof, could turn them a tidy profit. At the convention the brothers met Charlie Gordon, of Tri-City Beverage.

John Brichetto drew the first sketches of the original Mountain Dew bottle labels in 1948, depicting a character known as Willy the Hillbilly shooting at a revenuer fleeing an outhouse with a pig sitting in the corner. Below the illustration is the phrase “by Barney and Ollie”—as in FILLED by Barney and Ollie, a nod to the way a homemade jug of moonshine might be hand filled by the moonshiner. This labeling quirk was carried on until Pepsi Cola entered the picture many years later.

Charlie Gordon’s Tri-City Beverage first commercially bottled Mountain Dew in 1954. The Hartmans began selling Mountain Dew the next year, marketing it as a lemon-lime drink to be used as a whiskey mixer. Although they felt the Dew would be a big seller, it didn’t catch on as they had hoped. In fact, it sat on retailers’ shelves, and generated little revenue.

Herman Minges, co-owner of a North Carolina Pepsi franchiser that became a Mountain Dew licensee in 1955, was over time able to greatly expand the regional reach and appeal of the product. He had met the Hartmans through Bill Jones (photo below left).

In 1958, Jones – a well known soft drink supply salesman – acquired a company by the name of Tip Corporation, located in Marion, VA. Jones was not a wealthy man, and was forced to take on investors to further promote his venture. The first investors were Allie Hartman, Herman Minges and Pepsi Cola bottlers Richard Minges of Fayetteville, NC, and Wythe Hull of Marion, VA. Some of these first investors were long time friends of Jones, from the days he had spent as a supply salesman.

In 1959 Bill Bridgforth, manager of Tri-City Beverage, formulated Tri-City Lemonade to compete with SunDrop Cola. The following year he transferred the company’s moderately successful Tri-City Lemonade flavor into the green Mountain Dew bottles.

This “New Mountain Dew” was a hit in the East Tennessee area (except for Knoxville, where the Hartmans stuck with their lemon-lime Mountain Dew for a few more years). Its base flavor is still used in Mountain Dew today.

It was rumored that Bill Jones acquired the name for Mountain Dew at a 1960 dinner with Ally Hartman. Hartman was said to want to donate the recipe and name, on behalf of his deceased brother, to the newly formed Tip Corporation. Apparently Jones would not accept the gesture, and offered to purchase the dinner that evening for the rights to the name and recipe of Mountain Dew.

If this is to be believed, the trademark for Mountain Dew, one of today’s most valuable brands, along with the recipe for the soft drink, sold for a mere $6.95 dinner check.

At the same time as Mountain Dew was making its way into the soft drink market, Pepsi Cola Company was launching its new lemon lime soda, Teem. The majority of Tip Corporation customers were Pepsi bottlers, and remained faithful to their parent company. They sold the new Teem, instead of Mountain Dew.

Bill Jones, Tip Corp CEOJones decided to tweak the Mountain Dew recipe to give it a more orange flavor, so that the drink would not compete with Pepsi’s Teem. Jones added a bit of orange flavor, which seemed to make the drink a stand-out among the other lemon lime sodas then on the market.

Meantime, in 1962 Pepsi Cola Bottling of Lumberton NC [Herman Minges’ company] introduced New Mountain Dew in the Columbus County, NC market.

On May 29 of that year Tip Corp. sold its first wholly-owned franchise as well as its first new flavor franchise to Pepsi Cola Bottling of Kinston, NC.

Soon other bottlers were demanding Mountain Dew concentrate. Within three years of its introduction, Tip Corp. was supplying 40 bottlers, and they were selling over 10 million cases of Mountain Dew a year. The large consumer beverage corporations started taking notice.

Richard Minges brokered the sale of Mountain Dew to the Pepsi-Cola Co. on August 27, 1964 from the Tip Corporation, for what remains a rumored $6 million dollar plus sale price.

Tri-City Beverages continued as an independent franchisee of Mountain Dew until 1966, when Pepsi purchased that company as well.

Mountain Dew quickly became Pepsi’s 2nd best selling brand, bested only by the flagship drink itself.


appalachia Tip+Corporation Tri-City+Beverage Mountain+Dew Barney+Hartman Ally+Hartman Hartman+Beverage+Co appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history,


One of the fellows called me ‘Cyclone’

Posted by | August 10, 2015

On August 6, 1890, baseball great Cy Young pitched his first professional game against Cap Anson’s Chicago White Stockings. Anson had scouted Young while he was at Canton and rejected him as being “just another big farmer.” When Cy beat the White Stockings 8-1 and allowed only three hits, Anson strove to purchase him from Cleveland.

Over the course of his 22-year career, Young won at least 508 games (511 is the generally accepted number) and averaged more than 23 victories per season. Young set Major League records for most wins all-time, most losses all-time, most innings pitched all-time, most games started all-time, and most complete games all-time. His accomplishments and records can be attributed to his longevity, durability, and consistency.

Cy Young baseball cardDenton True Young was born on a farm in Gilmore, OH, on March 29, 1867. While pitching for the Canton (Ohio) club of the old Tri-State League in 1890, Mr. Young was nicknamed Cy. “I thought I had to show all my stuff” he recalled years later, “and I almost tore the boards off the grandstand with my fast ball. One of the fellows called me ‘Cyclone,’ but finally shortened it to ‘Cy,’ and it’s been that ever since.”

Cy Young played for the Cleveland Spiders from 1890 until 1898, spent the next two years with St. Louis, and then signed with the Boston Americans (renamed the Red Sox in 1908) in the American League. Young’s final season was 1911, which he split between the Cleveland Naps and the National League’s Boston Rustlers. Continuing to follow the game closely after retiring to his farm near Peoli, Ohio, Young felt wounded when he was passed over in the initial Hall of Fame election in 1936. The oversight was rectified the following year, however, allowing him to be among the original group of inductees in 1939.

Shortly after Young’s death on November 4, 1955, commissioner Ford Frick originated the Cy Young Award, an annual honor bestowed upon the pitcher deemed most valuable.



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