The Cy Crumley Scrapbook
ET&WNC Railroad

Tour 3a: Cranberry, North Carolina


Your host and narrator for this tour is Ken Riddle, close personal friend of Cy Crumley, legendary conductor of this great railroad. From 1906 until 1960, Cy worked on the ET&WNC as Brakeman and Conductor. This is his scrapbook of those years and his story.


Click on each photo to see a larger view.

Cranberry Mines
Date: 1923

At this point in the tour, let's visit Cranberry, NC. Here is a distance view of the Cranberry Mines around 1923, according to Mr. Crumley. Cranberry and Elk Park grew significantly with the completion of the railroad with the company mining town of Cranberry reaching about 2,000 in population by 1900. Company-owned houses, a store, and recreational amenities were established for employees and their families. Cranberry was an important stop along the ET&WNC as the transfer point between the Tennessee and North Carolina portions of the route.

The 1896 view below offers an earlier view of the mines and vicinity. Courtesy of the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library.


Cranberry Mines
Date: 1896

Help Wanted
Date: 1886



Vance and Lawton
Date: 1900
ET&WNC long-time financial officer J.E. Vance (standing) poses with Superintendent James Lawton at the Cranberry Depot around 1900.  Vance was later Vice-President of the railroad. Shown above are passenger tickets bearing printed signatures of the two men.




Date: 1911
Chester Ford on his bicycle in Cranberry, 1911.  Cranberry, North Carolina sure has changed in the last hundred years! Cranberry is fascinating as it represents the classic boom and bust history similar to the western ghost towns. After the mines were shut down in the 1930s, most of the mining town gradually disappeared and is represented today by scattered abandoned buildings and only traces of its former glory days as a mining center. Below the town has a forlorn look on an icy winter day around 1910.

Date: 1910




Tennis Time
Date: 1911
In another view from Mrs. Corrie Ford's Kodak, here is a tennis game in Cranberry next door to the store.  I suspect this photo was taken in 1911, as it was grouped with the 1911 pictures she had at their home on Maple and Spring Street in Johnson City.



Cranberry Extra
Date: 1920s
The 11 sports a passenger extra at the Cranberry, NC depot in the 1920s.  This may be the annual Board of Directors inspection train.



Cranberry Depot
Date: 1926

Straight from the scrapbook, the Cranberry station. Dallas Mackie was also the agent there for many years.   After he retired, Mr. Crumley was given an old typewriter by the ET&WNC as well as all the envelopes and stationary he wanted. General Manager Whisman loved him and told him he could come back to work any time he wanted to! You can see Mr. Crumley typed on little bits of paper and then stuck the labels to the pictures with scotch tape.

Johnny Graybeal has authored a great volume in his "Along the ET&WNC" book series titled The Depots which covers extensively each depot along the fabled railway line.


Cranberry Water Tank
Date: 1939
Nice photo made on the hill above Cranberry, next to the water tank.

Below wood is piled up at Cranberry for shipment to either Tennessee Eastman or Mead Paper in Kingsport, probably in the late 1940s.

Logs at Cranberry
Date: Late 1940s




Cranberry Church
Date: 2003
Here is the Cranberry Church.  It was built by the efforts of Mrs. George Hardin, who moved to Cranberry from Johnson City in 1901.  There was no church there at the time and Mr and Mrs Hardin worked with the railroad and the Christian Church in Johnson City to get this church built.  There is a picture in the Mary Hardin McCown items in the Archives of Appalachia of the Sunday School here in 1902, and Mrs McCown was just a little girl with her Mom and Dad.



Cranberry Cemetery    

Walter Phillips
1843 - 1887
In memory of Walter Phillips, born at St. Blazey, Cornwall England. Died at Cranberry. N. C. Nov 1, 1887, aged 44 years.  Erected by the employees of the Cranberry Iron and Coal Company.
I bet this guy was a great story.  Cornwall is a big iron center in England and I bet Walter was an iron man that came to Cranberry bringing his iron making smarts.  He had to have been very well thought of, as the employees bought this fine tombstone.  That would have put him born in 1843.  That was only thirty years after Old Hickory ran the British out of New Orleans.  Thirty years back from today was 1976.  A lot of you remember the Bicentennial - not that long ago - to me anyway. I think we ought to note Walter as he likely was a key person in the history of the Cranberry Mines and possibly our favorite railroad.

Descendant Elizabeth Phillips has added the following information: "Walter was my great-great grandfather and, yes, there is a good story behind his connection with the Cranberry Iron & Coal Co. His son, Thomas Phillips wrote a memoir while in his late 80s and in it he describes how Walter met with "financiers from New York" (presumably Ario Pardee among them) to talk about building a railroad and developing the iron ore mine down in Cranberry. At the time (1880) Walter and his family were living in Jefferson Township New Jersey. Walter had first emigrated there from St. Blazy Cornwall and worked as a miner in the iron ore mines of western New Jersey . The family moved to Cranberry around 1881. Walter was the supervisor of the Cranberry Iron & Coal Co. until his death in 1887." Read the stirring account of the Walter Phillips family authored by Thomas Phillips. (courtesy of Elizabeth Phillips).

Note: The Superintendent of the Cranberry Iron and Coal Company and ET&WNC Railroad during the late 1890s was Charles H. Nimson who replaced Thomas Matson. Nimson and other company employees provided assistance to the Phillips family.

Thomas Phillips
in 1895
Thomas Phillips
in 1909
Cranberry Depot

Scott Dean
1857 - 1915
Here lies Scott Dean, one of the very first engineers the ET&WNC ever had.  He was running the "Watauga" in the Abraham Jobe picture seen on Tour 2 according to Mr. Crumley.  He is in that Pardee Point picture somewhere.  Looks like he caught the westbound in 1915.  B.L.E. is Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

Horton Geouge
1914 - 1918
Cranberry was devastated by the Swine flu in 1918-19.  Tighteye Simerly told me there were 17 people dead at one time--too many to bury.  And a lot of them were kids, like four-year-old Horton Geouge.  "Darling we miss thee" is inscribed on the stone.
Think about what his Mom and Dad felt like that day in 1918, four days before the "war to end all wars" was over.  The Cranberry graveyard has probably sixty of these children that died with the flu. Our friends Chet and Corrie, lost their only child here as previously noted.

Albert Walser
1882 - 1919
This tombstone records a tragic act perpetrated in 1919.  Albert Walser 1882-1919. Murdered by George Hartley"No better man ever died for a more unjust cause."
That is my friend Keith Holley's great-grandpa.  He was a logger and had a fine team of Belgian draft horses.  Hartley was working for him and got drunk on the job and was abusing these fine animals.  Walser fired him on the spot.  That night, when Walser was driving the team back home, Hartley shot him in the back and killed him.  Hartley will be remembered as a murderer as long as this stone stands.

Postscript - A Hartley descendant e-mailed this postscript to the Walser murder story: "
My grandfather--George Hartley's son--was named Paul, and he didn't share any of George's-- they called him Pa--story with his family (my dad Roland and daddy's brother Jimmie) until many years later. One reason was because of the shame and embarrassment regarding his dad's crime, the other because he had learned to be very cautious and wary of providing any kind of personal information because Pa lived most of his life looking over his shoulder waiting to be caught by the authorities. The information I have is sketchy at best. I thought Pa aka George had actually been convicted and sent to prison then escaped, but my mom seems to think he was never captured after the crime. This is what I know of the story. I'll try
to identify the parts that seem to come from a less than certain memory... George works with Walser at the livery stable. Walser tells George to stop riding the horses so hard. George, who is rumored to have already been drinking at this point, become angry and he and Walser had words in front of several people while still 'in town. George goes home, gets his gun, hides behind some trees or something and shoots Walser and the horse. There wasn't anything in my recollection of the event that said anything about it being a shot to the back, but I don't know for sure. George was apprehended and there was some call for a hanging, but because George's father (?) was a well-known minister in the community, the decision was made to sentence George to prison instead. I'm pretty sure the prison was in eastern TN. He escaped and hid out in the mountains close to the home of some family members who helped to take care of him on the sly, as the authorities were searching for him. At some point the family saved enough money to send him by train out west. He ended up in Arkansas clearing timber on Crowley's Ridge, changed his name to Charles Smith (how original is that), and lived the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. At some point he sent for his wife and son(s?) Paul, my grandfather. I've heard a variety of add-ons to the story, but I think this is the general idea.




Old Railroad Bed
Date: 2003
That road ahead on the right is the old Tweetsie railroad bed that ran past the Cranberry Hotel stop toward the mines and depot.  There is a postcard in the Mary Hardin McCown Collection that talks about her and some friends having a picnic under the "shelter in the rain" in 1909.  That shelter was right in this curve.





Superintendent's House
Date: 2003
Here is the "Superintendent's House" in Cranberry.  This is barely still standing, and I am not sure what it was, but that is what is is called.  It is in the long curve between Elk Park and Cranberry, near where the shed was for passengers getting off at the Cranberry Hotel.  That was way back in the late 1800s and the mining was pretty much over by 1930.  I have heard that the company had official gatherings here from time to time and it is a really cool old building and goes all the way back to the heyday of the Cranberry Mine and furnace.



General Store
Date: 1940s

A really good photo of the Cranberry General Store in the 1940s. Looks like a pretty summer day in the mountains.




Official Train
Date: 1950

Looks like it has been raining up at Cranberry when the 1950 official train got there.  Some of the folks are walking up to the General Store to get a coke I bet.



Cranberry Mine
Date: 2005

In June 2005 the East Tennessee and North Carolina Railroad Historical Society toured the Cranberry Iron Mine as part of its annual convention. Consider joining the group - dues are only $15 per year and whether you are a veteran railroad enthusiast or a person catching "railroad fever" for the first time - come join in on the fun and learning experience. Photo by Chris Bryant.


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Kenneth Riddle
Johnson City, Tennessee
November 2005