The Clinchfield Railroad, Published 11 April 1951
By contrast, the Clinchfield railroad at Johnson City is a vigorous and forceful railroad, with not too much of the picturesque. It has trackage up and down the United States between coal and cotton, and the C. C. and O., to give it its full initials lies north and south on the map like 6 o'clock. It' northern terminus is Elkhorn City, in West Virginia, not so very far from Ohio. Its southern 277.3 miles below, is in the cotton town of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
A token passenger service runs north one day from Erwin to Elkhorn City one day, south the next. The train no longer carries the mail even this is to vanish, they say next change of schedule. South from from Erwin to Spartanburg, the passenger train is already history. Sic Transit Gloria passenger service.
Not even a stop
The Clinchfield's full name is Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio. Its headquarters are at Erwin Tennessee, and Johnson City is not even a stopp for highball freight. Indeed I saw one long drag go through the heart of downtown Johnson City, giving the back of its hand to the tied up motor traffic.
Yet if the Clinchfield is a coal line it has its moments. You should see it chi chi in lime yellow and purple gray. They look as if they were designed by Schapiarelli. I rode a yard diesel No. 352, engineered by C. C. Stallard, with C. T. Jenkins on the fireman's seat. They really gave me a great welcome at the Clinchfield, for not only did Agent C. N. Turbyfill take time off to give me an airing, but D. H. Hendrix relaxed his tern duties as yardmaster to travel with me.
Later I visited the shops and roundhouse at Erwin Tenn.,16 miles south of Johnson City. There an old timer round house man sadly pointed out 150 steam locomotives, they had in a dismal horseshoe, waiting to be scrapped. They'll be boiled down like old junk.
Going To Bone Yard
Here they were big mallets, with their double sets of wheels, bought from the Rio Grande and not so far from the scrap heap. Here were ancient moguls, not so ancient mikados, a sprinkling of ten wheelers. But since there was never much emphasis on passengers, I saw no Pacifics. Well, they are all going to the boneyard. Going, going, gone, is the hoarse blast of the decapod in the mountain pass, and in its place is the moan, moan of the lime and gray diesel, as snake-like it sneaks silently through the hills, rolling coal to Cotton.
I rode the Clinchfield first and so it became the 150th railway I wrote. I started on the second half of my second hundred when I boarded number 205 of the Tweetsie. Total to date, 151 railways ridden.