"The good old days" {'The Ride'}

"The good old days" {'The Ride'}

A Story by FarisGreybear

first posted, created, 2003-ish at Talk Marion County 24/7.


   I remember walking down beside the Sunnyside saloon at water street
and depot street, Ham days '89 (it was '86 and i was 12), I was 15.

L & N steam engine #152 had pulled the Ky Railway museum cars up from
New Haven as special passenger rail excursions had become a special
event at Ham days through the eighties; however, since CSX R.R. was
holding the deed to the Marion Co. railroads, the track upkeep and
maintenance had been neglected and by the summer of '89('86) had
officially announced plans to abandon and remove all the rails.

    Well, anyways, #152 was puffing smoke out of the stack beside
Sunnyside and Pickerell's car lot, whilst the diesel Monon engine was
at the opposite end of the train, beside Madden Howard's filling
station at Spalding Av.

    The last excursion was to be the first (and last) passenger excursion
on the greensburg (old C & O line) branch since regular service was
discontinued in 1968.

    Because the curves were so tight on this line between Payne Road and
Cave Road on the calvary section (just below water tower knob),

the steam engine was not able to pull the train to campbellsville,

as the driving wheels of the steamer would buckle the rails off the ties

in those hairpin curves, and the smokestack was very likely to be damaged

at the spurlington tunnel. Thus this was the reason for the Monon's
appearance at our festival that year.

   So we boarded the train in the second car from the depot end, and the
monon pulled us in reverse to the wye behind Murphy's station (which
extending back through the old McMurty farm, now T.G.Ky), and the
engine detached from the end and pulled around front. We were then
pulled up to woodlawn in order to exit the wye, then backed up to the
cedarwood, so the switch could be thrown for the last ride down the
greensburg branch!

   Slowly we were pulled past east main dairy freeze, and rosenwald
village, and metts drive, then began the real trip. The track hugged
the curves of the knob, like a rattlesnake wrapping
itself around a tree, until we were delivered to the Rolling Fork
bottom, crossing the new truss bridge (this being where a passenger
train in 1900 had wrecked, due to bridge collapse!).


   The excitement grew as the monon began slipping on the rails, as it
was still wet from some rain upon the Cloyd's creek valley up through

Phillipsburg. My heart drew anxious as we crossed Jim Brown Road,

knowing all too well that those two trestles that dive through the air

over those 200 to 300 feet deep hollows, they were just around the bend,

with the tunnel just beyond.


   Then the engine began to noticably buckle and slip, as the grade of
the track turned steep and slowly we inched over the fist "baby"
trestle. Then the "monster" trestle came into view as our speed
dipped below 10 mph and we slowly made our crossing, and I honestly was
peppering dad (Sam) with questions about the maintenance of this
line. He assured me that the 1981 refurbishments included this trestle.

The trestle did vibrate and sway a bit but held fast, as we continued
toward the spurlington "witch's hole".

   At last the tunnel came into sight, as we were bearing around a curve

to the right, with shelfs of rock towering above us on the left and right,

and a small waterfall cascading down off to the right side of the Marion
County portal. By this time, the train was moving at a snail's pace, maybe
5 mph, and the train began jerking wildly, as this was the steepest
grade of the climb, in a curve, and covered with water, as there was
a creek streaming down the middle of the tunnel!

   The diesel smoke pouring out of the monon, covered us all in soot and
grime. Then, like a breath of fresh air we passed below the blowhole and

the glare of the hot sun actually shined through the windows. At last we

crested the hill at the Taylor County Portal, thrilled to pieces at such a
fantastic passage, wow! And all of us were a sight to behold, covered
with black smears, you would've thought we'd all just come from the
church service on Ash wednesday!

   It was then rather anticlimactic as our track pulled up alongside the
new campbellsville highway which ironically was filled with heavy
truck traffic that day. We were finally making a good clip (about 30
mph). It seemed like nearly every other vehicle on the new road,
semi and car alike, pulled off on to the shoulders and watched curiously
as what seemed to be a ghost train made it's way southbound.

   I recall thinking at that time, "No sooner than they get the new highway

built for semi-s, they're done with the rails".

   And we continued across the airport road and slowed, passing through
the campbellsville neighborhood behind Taco Bell, stopping at the
Depot, right off of South Central Avenue (Hwy #70). I think we stayed
in C-ville for about 20 minutes, as some passengers disembarked and
others got on (these being the one-way ticketholders, obviously).

   As we made our way back to Lebanon, after passing back down through
spurlington tunnel, we actually stopped and parked on the the big
trestle, and everyone that had a camers took pictures. Sadly, less
than three weeks thereafter, the R.J.Corman salvage operation began
dismantling the entire line including this very trestle.

   Fortunately, dad and I along with a slew of volunteers in New Haven,
managed to bargain for and buy a large section of track for the
Railway museum, and we got the land swap taken care of in town,
between Chester Simms and Johnson so that a new depot could be
built, next to the old Key Market (grocery store on US31-E).

   But alas, we just didn't have enough time to raise enough money

to buy the tracks beyond New Hope. Everyone wanted the new museum

depot to be built in Lebanon, with excursions offered through the tunnel,

but it will all just remain a memory, as I sit back and reflect upon the


   I will never forget "the ride" behind the Monon diesel through "Ca'v'ry".

S   O
swampfoxygen throwback!

© 2015 FarisGreybear

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Added on February 28, 2015
Last Updated on February 28, 2015
Tags: Short Story, Railroad, Tunnel, Trestle, Ham Days Festival



Raceland, KY

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