Above is George W. Hardin, Superintendent of the ET&WNC on his railroad bicycle at Pardee Point in 1901. There had been a big flood that washed away a lot of the railroad and he supervised the reconstruction. You can see the bridge behind him that was filled in and retaining walls built. He must have known what he was doing, because it is still right there today even after numerous other big floods. An 1882 graduate of Milligan College, George Hardin began working for the railroad in 1886 and was promoted step by step to being General Manager over the whole operation at the time of his death in 1922. Hardin was a major benefactor of Milligan College and a Johnson City civic leader. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Johnson City. Read the obituary for George W. Hardin. Photo and obituary courtesy of Mike Hardin.
George Hardin hired Cy Crumley in 1906. Hardin appeared to be the exact opposite of the jovial, fun-loving Mr. Crumley. I am quite sure Hardin gave Cy a bad time once in a while because of stories I heard from some of the boys who were there. Cy must have had a lot of respect for Mr. Hardin, either that or gratitude for a lifetime position/career. He kept a portrait of Mr. Hardin hanging on the wall of his Johnson City home at 1003 Buffalo Street as long as he lived. Ruth hated the picture and seeing George's face frowning at her every time she went into Mr. Crumley's room and after Mr. Crumley was gone she gave Mr. Hardin's photo to the Tweetsie Railroad.
I can recount one intriguing story related to these two men. Evidently by 1922, Mr. Hardin had had enough of "Mr. Crumley being Mr. Crumley" on George Hardin's railroad. Cy was on the passenger train from Johnson City to and from Boone since 1919 and he lived in Boone through the week. Admittedly, Mr. Crumley was an independent operator, a very good hearted soul, but a man who occasionally bent rules as he saw fit. As Hardin was going on vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas, he told Cap Allison (who told his son Brownie, who told me) that as soon as he got back from Hot Springs he was going to fire Cy Crumley. Well Mr. Hardin came back from Hot Springs all right but he came back in a box at room temperature. George Hardin died while on vacation in Arkansas. Cy Crumley worked until 1960 and lived to be 91 years old, smiling all the time. I think the moral of the story might be that having a little fun and not taking yourself too seriously might be more healthy for you than frowning all the time. A cigar every now and then probably doesn't hurt either.
Actually to be fair to George Hardin, I never heard anyone say anything but that he was hardnosed, an honorable man to deal with, and a really good manager for the little ET&WNC railroad. Part of his stress likely was having to compete for employees with 2 large mainline railways in Johnson City - the Clinchfield and Southern and supervising the rambunctious collection of individuals working on the ET&WNC. My good friends from the railroad may not have considered Mr. Hardin as "fun" but without question he managed a top quality railroad operation for its era and had the respect of employees as a "railroad man" who knew the business inside out. George Hardin had every opportunity to know the railroad. His father, Jordan C. Hardin, was a former owner of the Cranberry Mines, and founder of the ET&WNC Railroad. Jordan managed operations around Johnson City including the Depot until his death in 1898.
Shown below is a postcard view of Milligan College. The Milligan campus is located 4 miles east of Johnson City and was the first eastbound stop for the ET&WNC Railroad. Milligan College might not exist today without the benevolence of ET&WNC Vice-President and alumnus George W. Hardin.