Home  

CHAPTER X—RAILROAD RACES. GLIMPSES OF NEW YORK

A YEAR later, our road again changed hands, becoming a part of the Southern railway system, and the passenger run was shortened from Selma to Rome, a distance of one hundred and ninety-six miles. This change put an end to the races we used to have, which at times were quite exciting.

After the Western & Atlantic road was built with five miles of track parallel with the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia going out of Dalton, occasions frequently arose for a trial of speed between our engineers and those of the Western & Atlantic. I well remember one such race between Mr. Bussy and myself. He ran a "crack" engine which he claimed had never been beaten. One day we stood together in Dalton at leaving time, when I heard him say, "I'll wait till this fellow starts, and I'll pass him." After two miles he did pass, and whistled me ahead. Waiting until he was nearly by, I turned my engine loose and my whole train passed him, three quarters of a mile before our tracks diverged. He stopped talking after that.

When our road built the line from Chattanooga to Bristol, the new track was laid parallel with the old one for a mile out of Cleveland. The schedules were the same coming this way, and that mile soon became a racing ground. I was never beat out of there. One trip the General Superintendent told the Superintendent on the Knoxville Division that he was going to ride on my engine, so there would be no race that day. I heard of the remark, and sure enough he came. The other fellow got the start, and I looked neither to the right nor to the left, but let her go! We passed clear by, putting our tail lights in the other's face. The Superintendent only shook his finger at me.

Of course, we engineers take a pride in our engines, and our skill in handling them. That was all that these races meant, but they added a zest to our continual "riding on the rail."

I think it was in the fall of 1895 that I was elected Chairman of the General Committee of Adjustment of the Southern Railway in addition to the local chairmanship.

During the time of the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad the "grievance" business took us to Knoxville and Cincinnati frequently (the Queen & Crescent and East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia, being parts of the same system) and once to Atlanta.

I was again called to Atlanta in '95 on business for the Southern, and upon being detained there quite a while, sent for my wife and daughters to join me and take in the sights of the Cotton States Exposition, which was then open. I recall that the girls insisted on my taking them to the theatre one night. They well knew that their mother wouldn't go, because she considers it wrong. I fail to see any real harm in it, but such things simply bore me, and seem such a waste of time. I could never even bear to read books of fiction, knowing the characters to be "made to order," but facts and real people always interest me. Frances often reads me a story, which I like pretty well until something in it convinces me that it is all "made up," then I don't care anything more about it. Well, the girls took me to that play, Frederick Warde was the actor's name, but they have never taken me since. I told them that whenever they wanted to go I would put up the money, but they would have to do without my company.

A few days after, a friend insisted upon taking our party into Hagenbeck's Trained Animal Show at the Fair Grounds. Of course, Frances did not want to go, but hated to refuse and cause some of us to miss it on account of staying outside with her, so she went on in, but sat with her back to the performance the entire time!

Our committee was called to Washington to finish the business on hand, and since that time the General Committee of Adjustment has met there. Accordingly I have grown very familiar with our capital city during the past sixteen years, averaging three or four weeks there annually.

Several handsome structures have been erected since my first visit: The Congressional Library, Pension Building, new Art Gallery, Pennsylvania Depot, etc., but even then it was a city well worth seeing, and in my opinion, the White House of those days certainly looked more like the residence of our representative American than it does to-day. The plan on which Washington is laid out is quite simple, the idea having originated with the great man whose name it bears. The avenues radiate as the spokes of a wheel from the Capitol, which serves as the hub, while the lettered streets run east and west, and the numbered streets north and south; thus multitudinous circles, squares, and triangles are formed, which add greatly to the beauty of the city. Several times I have been in Washington, while Congress was in session, and have heard speeches delivered by our former noted senators and fellow-townsmen Generals John T. Morgan and Edmund W. Pettus. As is well known, the former was gifted with remarkable eloquence. Taking the simplest subject, he could keep his hearers deeply interested as long as he chose to speak. On one occasion, it was a bell on the desk which furnished material for an hour's discourse, and during the entire time he kept his audience spellbound with his imagery, and endless application of a wonderful store of information.

I was again elected delegate to the next Grand International Division Convention which convened in Ottawa, Ont., May 13, 1896. In addition to my wife, I took our two daughters along and we made a lively party. We started in time to give us a chance to see New York, and a pretty good idea we got of the "Empire City." Upon our arrival, while crossing on the ferry, we caught a glimpse of the Goddess of Liberty, and, of course, included that in our sightseeing list. I remember that we took a Third Avenue Elevated to the Battery, and there caught a boat to Bedloe's Island. The statue, which had looked comparatively small when viewed from the city, grew larger as we approached, and by the time we landed, presented a colossal appearance. We had no trouble in climbing the pedestal, but the narrow spiral stairway inside the statue was another matter. While making the ascent, it was interesting to examine the huge folds of the skirt and draperies, and the steel bands which held them in place. From the crown of the Goddess, we looked out upon a charming view, and the four feet of nose just below made us fully realize the immense size of the statue.

Upon returning to the Battery, we took a Broadway car for the St. Denis Hotel, as it was nearing lunch hour, and during our short ride, we saw something of the real "rush and jam" of New York business life. As we neared Wall Street, immense Exchange buildings reared themselves on every hand, while a dense throng of men surged back and forth; so great was the rush that our car made its way but slowly, until we had passed Post-Office Square and the City Hall. After "refreshing the inner man," we continued up Broadway to Central Park, where we took a carriage in order to economize time and energy. The Menagerie, mall, terrace, Cleopatra's needle, lake, reservoir, Metropolitan Art Museum, and other interesting parts of the park first claimed our attention. The combined efforts of Nature and Art have produced varied and beautiful effects in this greatest of American city parks, and that day the scenes were greatly enlivened by the presence of throngs of cyclists, for wheels had then reached the height of their popularity. Bicycles, sweaters, and bloomers! Bloomers, sweaters, and bicycles! There were single bicycles, double bicycles, and tandems for two and three. No wonder that we ended by wondering if all New York was out for a gala day on wheels!

We next drove to Riverside Park, seeing the unfinished Grant monument and enjoying the lovely view of the Hudson, along whose banks we rolled, perhaps, three miles. There again the cyclists held full sway. Turning into Fifth Avenue we drove down past blocks of New York's most costly mansions, and stopped to enter America's handsomest cathedral, St. Patrick's, which cost between fifteen and twenty millions of dollars. It occupies an entire block, and the magnificence of the interior is beyond all description. The organ cost a million dollars.

Two things especially struck me about New York, namely: the unusual size of the men on the police corps, and the extra fatigue of sightseeing there, for the noise and bustle and ceaseless activity wear upon the brain even more than the exercise upon the body. The four elevated roads are great time-savers, if they do obstruct these avenues, and detract from their appearance. That of Sixth Avenue beyond One Hundredth Street forms a double "S," while on a level with fourth-story windows, and beyond the track continues to ascend until One Hundred and Sixteenth Street is reached, access to the station being afforded by an elevator. Ordinarily, however, the height is only about sixteen feet.

Of course, we crossed Brooklyn Bridge, had a look at Greenwood Cemetery, and paid a visit to Coney Island. This done we were ready to continue our trip into Canada.

Leaving New York at 9:30 A.M., by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, we greatly enjoyed the varied scenery along the Hudson, as we skirted the eastern shore all the way to Albany. Such a placid river it is! Faithfully reflecting upon its peaceful bosom the majestic Storm King, towering palisades, and the many points and peaks that help to make up the inimitable beauty of this lordly river. Chief among the sights were the West Point Military School and General Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh, the latter being distinguished by a flag flying from a tower. The ice houses beyond the Highland Gates were of interest, and the girls greatly admired the "man" in the Catskills. During the one hundred and fifty miles, we made only one stop—at Poughkeepsie—and reached Albany at ten o'clock, where we made connection with the Delaware & Hudson Railroad and almost immediately continued our journey. While the train waited at Saratoga, we procured some of the water from that celebrated resort to see how it tasted. Only a short distance beyond, we reached the southern extremity of Lake Champlain, and travelled in sight of it as long as we were within "Uncle Sam's" domain. Gradually broadening to the width of fourteen miles, it narrows again and ends at Rouse's Point. There the Custom-House officer came aboard, and with his jabbering of French soon impressed us with the fact that we had touched Canadian soil. Just before the train stopped, we were amused by overhearing an Englishman express to his wife his mild disgust at seeing in America "only hills, rivers, and lakes, with never a cow!"

After our baggage had been searched, we found that we had ample time to get supper, and did so. The allowance was meagre, and much complaint was made by the passengers, but we got a good deal of fun out of the incident. At eight o'clock we reached Montreal, where we spent the night at the Albion Hotel, and the next morning entered upon the last stage of our journey. The country through which we passed was mostly level, and the soil appeared quite fertile, but it seemed rather odd to us that the farmers were just breaking the soil preparatory to planting, while at home vegetables had already come in. When our train stopped in the capital city of the Dominion at one o'clock, there was a great rush made for the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Convention to register and secure badges and programs. Next came dinner at a restaurant on Wellington Street, followed by arrangements for locating. After very little trouble we secured pleasant, comfortable rooms on O'Connor Street, and engaged meals next door. We could not have secured more satisfactory accommodation, and became so friendly with our "boarding mistress" and her husband, that we kept up a correspondence with them for quite a while after returning home.


Table of Contents | Next Chapter | Contents Page

Home
Do you have any information you'd like to share on this subject? Please email me!
The Catskill Archive website and all contents, unless otherwise specified,
are 1996-2010 Timothy J. Mallery