Moss, is humor writer from Tennessee. She writes a
weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny
things that happen to everyone.
She has written for the Daily News of Kingsport, Griffin Journal,
Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton
Advocate, and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News
Journal. She has been
published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks
at Guidepost Books. Her articles have appeared in
numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.
She is a
former board member and past Editor of the Columnists.com, website of the National Society of Newspaper
oldest and largest professional organization
for columnists. She is the Web Editor of
Humorists.com and a founder of the Southern Humorists writers'
organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com.
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Online Since 1999
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
was a weekend morning, and I flipped on the TV hoping to watch
"Tennessee Crossroads," one of my favorite programs on
local public television. Instead, the channel was having a fund
raiser and showing a program about trains.
"Um, this is kind of interesting. I might as well watch
Honey was snoring away blissfully still asleep and unaware that the
program was convincing me that we should ride a train. The trains on
the program were not ordinary trains, of course. These trains were
steam locomotives, puffing, coal-eating, smoke-belching locomotives.
Although steam locomotives were retired and sent to rail yards to
rust years ago, some survived. Train enthusiasts loved the old
engines and a few have been restored to become popular tourist
attractions. In Tennessee some train-lovers believed that trains
were not only to look at, but also to ride.
"How can you learn about trains unless you can ride one, see
the steam and feel the clackity-clack of the rails sliding beneath
you?" they reasoned.
I woke Honey up early the following week to drive the 150 miles to
Chattanooga. I chose a one hour train trip as I was not quite ready
to commit to six hours on the rails. Once we left the interstate in
Chattanooga to look for the attraction, the roads became small and
narrow and led us to an industrial area. It seems that train yards
are not necessarily in the best part of town.
The old train depot had been restored to its former glory, however,
and was a sight to behold, as were the sidetracked black engines and
bright red cabooses in the rail yard. Inside the depot we bought our
tickets and waited on the long wooden refinished benches, while
watching the old antique clock tick. The old ticket booth was fully
restored and looking through the bars on the ticket window, I could
see an old manual typewriter, just like the movies.
Finally, the train arrived with much whistle blowing and steam
hissing. The passengers from the first trip departed and we boarded
the train. I had forgotten that conductors punch your tickets after
you get on the train instead of at the steps. Speaking of steps, I
had also forgotten how steep and high they were.
"All aboard" yelled the conductor. We were off on our
adventure to nowhere.
Our tickets were finally punched and the train ride was pretty much
as I remember trains, though it didn't shake quite as much since the
train moved rather slowly instead of at the tooth-rattling speed of
a diesel train that I once rode from St. Louis to Washington, D.C.
The main attraction of this particular tour was a long tunnel under
a mountain ridge, dug by hand back prior to the Civil War. Unlike in
olden times, we were not robbed by outlaws or attacked by savage
In case you are wondering, this train is not the infamous
Chattanooga Choo-Choo, which has been permanently de-railed and
turned into a commercial hotel, inviting guests to spend the night
in luxurious sleeping cars, which include modern amenities, even
free Wi-Fi. It is rather sad that the Choo-Choo train no longer
Our tour guide, who looked like Santa in a conductor's uniform,
lamented the fact that we had missed the six-hour train to Georgia,
which has a dining car. I have dined on trains before, though, and
remember that eating on a train involves dishes vibrating on a white
tablecloth while you try to ignore the splashing liquids in the
glasses and eat before your plate slides off the table.
The most interesting part was watching a fireman shoveled coal into
the firebox to heat the boiler and make steam. It is not the
conductor or the engineer that makes the train run. It is the
fireman who shovels the coal that makes it go.
And this was our adventure of the week in the latest quest to do
more things that are fun.
Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss
Nashville, TN 37219
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