THE PEAVINE RAILROAD
Photo used by permission of Jimmy B. Lassen (Loggers, Railroads, and Pine).
A Climax locomotive is a type of geared steam locomotive in which the two steam cylinders were attached to a transmission located under the center of the locomotive frame. This transmission drives driveshafts running forward and rearward to gearboxes in each driving truck. - Wikipedia
The Climax engine had a piston mounted on each side at a 45 degree angle.
We have read that the Greene County lumber company used a Climax engine to export the timber from the mountains, but to date we have not found any evidence of this.
Mock Preacher From Peavine Lumber Camps
It was during a revival at Herman one night on leaving church that I heard a man in the back wood preaching at the top of his voice. I asked a friend what that meant and was told that in the mountains lumber camps was a mock preacher, a real mimic who could imitate anything he heard. He had come to church and was now preaching my sermons over to his wicked cousins. I said, "Poor fellow, let him alone he will get the worst of that some day for the devil often is hard to beat at his own game." That winter, there was a great revival at Gethsemane. The large church was crowded,people were standing in the doorway, and there were fifteen to twenty professions of faith each service. I went back to the door and, sitting on a pile of wood, was a red-headed man looking very serious. I said, "How long until you will quit the work of the devil and give your heart and life to Jesus and his cause?" He said, "I am ready now." And rose to his feet with his hat in his hand while I lead the way to the altar. A shout went up from all around, "Glory to God, forever, here comes the mock preacher." Although 30 years have come and gone there still lives among these mountain people, and exhorted in the church a man full of the Holy Ghost, powerful in prayer and testimony. No one ever doubted the religion of Joe Blake. (We remember him as our own Uncle Shug ("Sylvester" Blake). Many thanks to Madge and Dixie Blake for this contribution.
Charles Lucas, surveyor, Returns Home
This tid-bit was found in the Thursday, June 17, 1915 Greene County News Paper "The Greeneville Democrat", under Baileyton news.
Charles Lucas has returned home. He has been with the surveying crew working from Newport to Sevierville for the C.G.and N. Railroad. (It is believed the railroad was named Cocke, Greeneville & Nolichucky Railroad. If so this is most likely the same crew that surveyed for the Peavine Railroad in Greene County around 1910.)
This tid-bit was also found in the Thursday, June 17, 1915 Greene County News Paper "The Greeneville Democrat" under "Interesting Items, From J.R.'s Pen" is as follows: C.S. Doak (Charles S. Doak),who is spending the most of his time at his mountain home (Bethany Community) looking after his orchard reports that he will have one half a crop of apples. M.(Mr.) Doak reports a route is being surveyed by the Tennessee Eastern Electric Co. from the terminus of the G.& N. Ry. (Greeneville and Nolichucky Railroad) to the lower furnace, a distance of nine miles, for the purpose of building a new line to enable the company to develop that section. (This of course was the Peavine Railroad. Mr. Heilman had purchased land and logging rights from the local residents, including Mr. Doak. The Doak family cabin was located at the base of the mountains in the midst of the John Heilman Lumber Company.
Marty Masker shares this:
My grandparents, Clyde Ephraim Pearce (originally from Hampton and Elk Park, TN)and Martha Gray Pearce (from Hayesville, NC) married and came to Greeneville with White's Lumber Company in 1914 or 1915. Since my grandfather worked in commissaries as a bookkeeper at other lumber camps later, I am assuming that is what he did with White's.
Their first child, Charles Ephraim Pearce, was born March 14, 1916, (premature at only 7 mo.) and died 2 days later, March 16th. He is buried at Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church.
My grandmother never shared this with anyone...possibly because even after all the years she sounded so pained when talking about the birth of the child. She said the doctor and others told her to walk a lot, so she did, and then the baby came early. They mailed money back to Greeneville after they left to pay for the tombstone. She said, "The missionary ladies, Mrs. Rambo and Mrs. Moncier, took care of it for us. I always wondered if the stone got put where the baby was actually buried. I don't know... we were never back there."
Many good and exciting things happened in the Bethany community during the Peavine days, even marriages of the employees. The single men sometimes dated the local girls taking them on picnics to church socials and such. One employee from Boone, North Carolina named William Edward "Bill" Ellis, born September 9, 1895, who worked with the railroad crew in Elk Park, NC, moved to Greene County to work Peavine Railroad under the new owner Hugh White. William was the grandson of the famous Union scout Captain Daniel Ellis. In Greene County, William met Miss Vesta Ona Reaves, born January 3, 1895. Miss Reaves was the daughter of Calvin 'Cal' Reaves, the company blacksmith. The young couple enjoyed several outings and church socials before Bill proposed. The two young people were married on a perfect day, November 11, 1915, near one of the many beautiful creeks while standing very near the Peavine train tracks. They were blessed with 5 daughters, Donna Mae "Donnie", Emma Ruth, Flora "Polly", Mable, and an unnamed infant. Vesta and her grand-daughter, Sharlene, contributed this story to the web page.
Mr. Junior Reaves has a beautiful wooden, pendulum, wall clock (shown below) that measures about 34 inches tall which reads "Drink Coca-cola" on the face. The clock which was made around 1913, was raffled off at the Peavine Logging Camp. It was a give away through the company store by the Coco-cola company, which began the raffles in the early part of the 20th century. Folks used a punch card to pick the lucky winner. For a nickel, a person could choose a number and hopefully win the beautiful clock to hang on their parlor wall, or if a camp member won to hang in their shanty. The punch cards were about the size of a greeting card. They were made of two thick card boards glued together with tiny removable circles on the top layer of the card, usually around 40 or 50. The colorful card with probably a picture of the clock on the front, had the circles perfectly aligned on it. When a person chose a circle, after paying his money, that tiny piece of card board was removed or punched out to reveal a number underneath. On the back of the card, the person wrote his name and the number that he had picked. If a person chose, he could pick more circles to punch out, with payment, of course. Somewhere on the face of the card was a special circle which revealed the winning number. When all the circles had been punched, the winner was announced and the prize awarded.
The Bass Foundry of Lenoir City Tennessee
Located on ninety-three acres along the Tennessee River in downtown Lenoir City, the Lenoir Car Works was once the largest and most important business in Loudon County. The earliest operation was the Bass Foundry and Machine Company, which produced iron rail car wheels; in 1907 the company produced three hundred wheels per day. The Lenoir Car Works, a small plant for building and repairing freight cars, was founded in 1904 and purchased by Southern Railway the following year. Soon after, the Bass Foundry became part of the industry. By 1907 the Car Works produced ten to twelve cars per day and employed approximately 500 men.
During World War I the work force swelled to 2,700 men. The average number of employees varied between 800 and 900 men, and most area families depended on the plant for economic survival. The only major strike occurred in the early 1920s and resulted in the death of one striker and the involvement of the Ku Klux Klan. The local Klan sent threatening notes to nonunion "scabs" and burned crosses in their yards.
The complex contained a machine and blacksmith shop, a wood shop, an erecting shop, and a boiler and engine house topped by an imposing smokestack. The engine house powered the complex and supplied electricity to parts of Lenoir City. In the mid-1920s wooden freight cars were declared unsafe, and orders decreased, although the steel foundry, the iron foundry, and the old brass foundry continued to produce four to five hundred wheels per day. During World War II the machine shop was converted to a second steel foundry and produced various castings for ocean going freighters and other craft.
After World War II diesel engines made the old steam engines obsolete, and the iron foundry closed in 1957. Steel and wrought-iron wheels replaced iron wheels and led to the closing of the steel foundry in 1963. In 1980 Sarten Metal Reclaiming Company purchased thousands of patterns and molds from the original pattern shop and moved many of them to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga. The last area to close was a newer, more modernized brass foundry, where journal bearings and insulated glued rail joints were produced.
The picture below was taken at the Lenoir City site in the late 1800's. The Peavine Railroad ordered many of its cars from the foundry.
Joe Spence, Lenoir City.
Photo used by permission of Sarah Shaver and Lenoir City Car Works.
The following information contributed by Mr. Robert VanAtta:
Runaway trains, i.e. Shay plus cars, usually occurred because the logging cars did not have the benefits of air brakes, but relied on manual brakes. Each car had a brake control which pushed a cast iron brake shoe against a wheel. The brakeman (for the Peavine, Mell Jennings, b.1879) walked down the top of the logs (remembering to duck for tunnels and low bridges) and would go from car to car setting/releasing the brakes.
On at least one event I (Mr. VanAtta) have heard described in some detail by the son of a guy who was there, a logging train West of Vernonia came over a hilltop and headed down what was known as the 'East Side Grade', a long fairly steep trackage. For some reason, the brakemen were not very coordinated in setting the brakes when they came over the summit, and when the train 'bumped up', i.e. the slack in the hitches when from pulling to pushing, it bumped hard enough that the locomotive lost traction and started sliding down the rails, and the other cars began to slide as well---no matter how tight the brakes were set. Ultimately the brakemen jumped off to save their own lives as there was nothing more they could do. The train slid down the hill and derailed on the corner at the bottom, and as it would be, there was a RR repair shop on the outside of the corner at the bottom. The train took out the shop, killed several people in the shop, the boiler broke open and cooked the engineer and fireman with steam burns, etc.