CHAPTER XRAILROAD 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
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
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
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 stopat
Poughkeepsieand 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.
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