Tuesday, August 11, 2009
At the tenth annual L and N Railroad Day held at the historic Berea Railroad Station located in Berea, Kentucky on Broadway Street; I met and talked with some folks that were associated with the railroads of the past. Each had tales to tell about the world of "rails".
This oral history project was part of L and N days. A one-day event that included working model trains, music, food and vendor booths selling railroad memorabilia. Oral histories can be done on any subject and are helpful to future historians that want original research material.
I recorded five men and have given the tapes to the Berea Department of Tourism for their files at the Berea Railroad Station offices. These tapes will be available for listening.
I spoke with four men: Harold Jordan, William Gregory, Orville Boes, and Wayne and Robert Denny.
Previously, I wrote a post on the Denny family and their involvement with the railroads. Click here to read, Kentucky Railroad Family, and view Mr Denny and his son Robert. Read about their fascinating family involvement with railroads through several generations.
William Gregory's photo unfortunately, did not turn out so I am unable to post his picture. However his fascinating comments about his father are included here.
Following are some of the comments made by the participants:
Three generations of my family worked for L and N railroad. My grandfather on my mother's side, my father during WWll and myself in the summer while I was attending college.
My father was a school teacher but worked for the L and N during the war years. His job was to guard one of the many train tunnels found in Rockcastle Countyin Kentucky. He would sit at one end and another employee would sit at the other end. They would sit there at night with a shotgun across their laps listening for any noise that might be a saboteur trying to blow up the tunnel. Trains were crucial to the war effort as they many times were loaded with troops and ammunitions. Every rail tunnel was protected in such a manner.
The present Berea train station was doomed several years ago. It sat vacant and derelict, a true eye sore. And like so many buildings that reach this state of degradation it became a focus of possible demolition. A Miss Moore of Berea then led the fight to save the building and of course was successful as one can see today. Unfortunately many of the historic train stations have met their demise over time due to vacancy and abuse by vandals.
My Uncle Butch worked for the L and N in Winchester, Kentucky for 42 years. Harold Jordan told how he would often visit his uncle at the Winchester station when he was young. At that time he was given the opportunity to help give messages to passing trains. He wanted to work for the railroad when he got older however he ended up working in the automotive industry and also served time with the navy during the Vietnam war. To this day he still likes to ride trains and hear the whistle blow.
The above comments are just introductions of the interviews they were given that day. If you are a railroad buff or a historian or are simply interested in what else was said that day about the railroads -- contact the Berea Tourism Council at (800) 598-5263.