Bringing Them Home
In his role as president of the Cliffside Railroad, Charles H. Haynes was always on the lookout for a good deal on a used locomotive (buying a new one was practically out of the question). Locomotive manufacturers and engine brokers kept the CRR’s mailbox filled with brochures, but Mr. Charley almost never bit. Once every decade or so, though, one of the railroad’s old engines would simply wear out and have to be replaced.
And whenever a “new” engine was purchased, someone would be assigned to go wherever it was located, inspect it and arrange for it to be attached to another railroad’s train and towed to Cliffside.
In the spring of 1933 Cliffside Railroad bought engine #110 from McRae Lumber & Manufacturing Company of Cordele, Ga. Mr. Haynes wrote to Seaboard requesting a pass for “our engineer and helper” to go down to Georgia and escort the locomotive back to Cliffside.
Not one to miss a trick, he made a pitch for another freebie:
“It has been suggested [by Hollis Owens?] that you might allow this locomotive to move on its own wheels to Cliffside without charge. This locomotive will be used we hope to deliver to and receive a lot of freight from the Seaboard and if you can consistently allow the movement without charge it will be a small item as compared with the amount of freight this locomotive will handle later.” (He was absolutely right. For the next 29 years the little engine carried most of the mill’s output to the Junction, helping Seaboard’s profitability.)
But Seaboard was unmoved. After weeks of haggling over the price Cliffside ended up paying $212.80.
In 1937 another such occasion arose with engine #108. On a brittle page retrieved decades later from the CRR office, written in the fine hand of Miss Una Edwards, is a note to herself, a reminder to make an expense entry in the books:
“Shirley White and John Padgett to Atlanta Ga and return to accompany Locomotive 108 to Cliffside N.C. Period Monday Dec 27 to Dec 31st 1937.
“Meals, taxi, hotel, boarding house at Abbeville, SC. $23.05.”
It’s not clear if the $23.05 was just for the boarding house, or for the entire list. Whatever, you can’t beat the price. On another note, let’s assume John and Shirley took a train or bus to Atlanta. What, then, were they doing in Abbeville, SC?
A decade later, in 1947, John Padgett had the honor of being sent to bring home another “new” engine. This one was #40, the last steam locomotive CRR would ever buy. It would serve Cliffside until the end of the days of steam, in 1962.
A condensed version of this article appeared in the Jul-Aug 2007 issue of the Cliffside Historical Society newsletter.