Sunburst logging town (present day Lake Logan)
I became interested in logging railroads when I worked at Lake Logan in Haywood County, NC. At the time, the lake was owned by Champion International (a paper manufacturing company). Champion used Lake Logan as a meeting facility. Folks would come for a conference or a workshop and while they were there they got to enjoy a little R&R in the form of fishing, golfing, canoeing, hiking, and party time in the bar which was called the Boojum Cave.
When I worked at the lake there were amazing photos of tough logging crews from the early 1900s enlarged to 3 or 4 feet in length. The photos showed trains hanging on to steep mountainsides, hauling logs bigger than any I’ve ever seen.
During my days of boat house attending, I was also being smitten by The Deer Hunter. We spent many days tramping through the Middle Prong Wilderness. In places you could see the remnants of the railroad, still lingering after all those years.
I’m still drawn to the picture of the railroad logging operation. At that point in history it was modern technology, it provided work for hundreds of loggers and for folks who serviced the loggers, it was loud, it drastically changed the landscape of the mountains, and a whole town sprung up around it, in other words it was the biggest thing going.
Along side the first picture is a newer one. Most of the acreage logged in that area is now protected land, the timber is once again impressive in size, the town is gone. All that’s left of the railroad are a few pictures and a few memories. Small fragments from a time in history.
The forests are now silent except for the occasional hunter, fisherman, or hiker. It’s almost like the logging railroad at Sunburst never existed.
The comparison between the two pictures is why I find history so fascinating. What once was in now gone, but sometimes if you look closely you can still see the imprint of it.
For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot I’ve got a train song for you- Gordon Lightfoot’s Big Steel Rail Blues. A song about a man wanting the big steel rail to carry him home to the one he loves.
Hope you enjoyed the song!
This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in January of 2009.