Logging Train – Photo Credit: NPS Archives
“We hadn’t been there long when a log train, going past with a loader full of logs, fell over directly in front of our house. It barely missed the house and fell over the side of the mountain. The whole thing was over before I realized what had happened. I heard the metallic, squeaky noise of the train, the thunderous boom of the logs hitting the ground, and then silence as they fell into the hollow.
Loaders are equipped with boilers of their own to produce power. Looking out the door, I saw the loader lying on its side with hot, white steam hissing. Thinking it would explode any minute, I grabbed Wilma and ran up the tracks, away from the wreck. The crew met me on their way down. They said there wasn’t any danger of explosion and I could stay in the house. Wilma, sensing my terror, was screaming at the top of her voice. Two cranes were brought up from Elkmont to pull the loader back on the tracks. A few more feet and it would have been in the deep hollow with the logs.
Fred still worked the dawn-to-dusk shift while I took care of things at home. We had four boarders, who had to be fed morning and night and have lunches packed for the job. I had to carry water from a spring about a half mile away for all our drinking, cooking, and washing. Once a week, I made out a grocery list and sent it out on the train to the company store.
After all the men were gone, Wilma and I were free to do what we wanted. Morning and evening, we climbed the mountain to milk the cow. She grazed around the house and up the mountain, always returning to her stall for milking time. She waited in the stall until we came to milk. One morning she wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Calling and looking, we went around the mountain. Wilma pointed down to the hollow below. The cow never went there, so I kept calling. “Mama,” Wilma said, “she’s down there.” I looked down. The cow was there all right-dead. She had fallen off the mountain and broken her neck.
The death of our cow was a great loss, and I didn’t know how we would replace her. I thought of the jokes Pa and Ma used to make about falling out of the cornfield. What would they say about our cow falling out of her pasture?”
Dorie: Woman of the Mountains pgs 123-124 (1912-1917)
I like this excerpt from the book because it allows your mind to visualize the steep mountains that were being logged-steep enough for a load of logs to fall off, steep enough for a cow to fall off. I also like it because you can ‘hear’ the happiness in Dorie’s voice when she says “After all the men were gone, Wilma and I were free to do what we wanted.” Her life may have been a hard one, but it was obviously one she loved and enjoyed.