The Cy Crumley Scrapbook
ET&WNC Railroad

Tour 7: The End is Near for the Narrow Gauge


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.

The Gorge in Color
Date: 1950

A color photo from the September 1950 official train at Doe River Gorge.


Linville Gap Crew
Date: 1936
Fred Helton, Walter Allison, Charlie Carver, Monk Bayless, and Cy Crumley with a 1936 excursion at Linville gap, NC. Monk was also a musician and played the harmonica. He worked late some nights playing music and one morning was dragging around while the crew was putting sand in the engine. Cap Allison told him he "better quit music-an around all the time." Monk replied to him, "Cap, I'm a-gettin so good on this thang I can play it with my nose!"



The Final Washout
Date: 1940
Photos from August 1940, before and after the massive flood that spelled the end of the Linville River Railway. The damage was so extensive it was deemed not economically feasible to rebuild the railroad. This location is in Avery County, North Carolina.




Covered Bridge
Date: 1948

Caboose 505 and the Upside Down covered bridge between Valley Forge and Hampton both could use a little attention in this picture, made after World War II. Tweetsie had really unique bridge structures and some of the wooden ones had occasional fires thought to be caused by sparks from the train. Read Article on ET&WNC during World War II.




Combine Car 15
Date: 1945
Combine car 15.  This car had sections for baggage, US Mail, local freight, and passengers.  This was probably the most used car on the railroad, either it or caboose 505.


Caboose 505
Date: 1941

Here's Caboose 505 at Cranberry in 1941 so the picture says. The caboose was where the rear end brakeman and conductor rode the train.  It was the place that the rear end of the train was watched, and the rear emergency air brake valve was located.  Remember, this was before 2-way radios. Now the conductor rides in the engine with the rest of the crew and there is a "Japanese conductor" or FRED (flashing rear end device) that is on the rear and monitors the air brake line pressure and sends readings to the cab via radio. 

Nowadays on the mainline the train crew is only two or three people.  In the narrow gauge days it was at least four.



505 in
Johnson City
Date: Unknown

505 Model

Caboose 505 in Johnson City is shown in top photo above. This caboose has been recreated in amazing detail by Tweetsie model railroaders. Bob Martin's model as shown above is from the Tweetsie Yahoo News Group. Join the Yahoo group to share items with Tweetsie fans and historians.


Linville Gap
Date: 1930s

The 12 tops Linville Gap westbound with three coaches and an excursion car sometime in the 1930's.  Notice the 12 has a "sparkless" stack different from the fancy capstack they usually had.


14 at Linville
Date: 1933
The 14 with the 50th anniversary excursion at Linville Gap in 1933.




Boone Depot
Date: 1939

Here's a good one of the passenger train and the Queen City Coach Company (Trailways) bus at Boone.  Mr. Crumley and Sherman Pippin are in the photo.  I don't know the bus driver but I think that is Herman Wilcox in the suit.  This photo was taken at the Boone depot in 1939.

Note: Correction by Vern Tyler of Bel Air, MD:

The awaiting coach is NOT Queen City Trailways! It is, in fact, an Atlantic Greyhound (AGL) unit! The line was no stranger to the parts!
AGL held rights serving Boone via USH-221, and Independence, VA. it alo held USH-421 authority serving Boone, and North Wilkesboro, NC. Besides, the coach clearly displays the entirely proprietary, "running dog" logo...

Check out this vintage Boone, North Carolina panoramic photo from 1939.

Below is a photo of Engineer Jim Miller in Boone.


Boone, North Carolina
Date: 1938

Boone Depot Model
Model Available from
KingMill Enterprises
Date: 2006





Legion Street
Date: 1930's

Number 12 in the Johnson City yard. The ET&WNC was one of the last railroads in the United States to switch from steam to diesel locomotives.



Legion Street Shop
Date: 1940

The 10 peeps out on track three and the 12 holds down number two about 1940 at the Legion Street shop.




Date: 1920s
Above is a dandy picture of the all-steel baggage car.  Built in the Johnson City car shops, it was a fine piece of work all but for one thing.  The first time they put it on the train to Boone it fell over on Love's road crossing between Montezuma and Pineola.  It was so top heavy they could not use it.  Looked good while it lasted.

Shown below is what was definitely a dud experiment by the ET&WNC. The railroad took an old Johnson City streetcar body and mated it to a White truck running gear to make a jitney to run back and forth to Elizabethton and the new rayon plants.  Well, it refused to stay on the track.  Somebody sold it to the East Broad Top Railroad up in Pennsylvania (which still exists) and they had the same results.  Mr. Crumley says that Clarence Hobbs, Hugh Saylor, Steve Staten, and Ike Ray are in the photo.  Ike was the trainmaster at that time.  Mr. Hobbs was over in the flash and you can't see him.  The original of this photo is no longer in the collection. Second view of the jitney.


The "Jitney"
Date: 1920s




Roan Mountain
Date: 1940s

Number 11 runs around a cut of boxcars at Roan Mountain during or after the war.  The last customer the narrow gauge had was the Graybeal Flooring plant at Roan Mountain.  I bet that is what the empties are for.  The location for this photo is right in the middle of the Highway 19-E now.


Bemberg Tank
Date: 1940s
In another shot that vanished from Mr. Crumley's scrapbooks, Engine 11 smokes up Elizabethton as she pulls up to the Bemberg water tank for a drink.  This old tank was built for use in downtown Elizabethton and later moved west across from the Bemberg rayon factories.  It stayed there until 1968, when it was moved to Doe River Gorge.  It is still there today.  If you look over toward the Elizabethton High School as you pass the Bemberg Depot you can still see the footings for the tank.  Note the presence of the three rails at this location to accommodate both narrow gauge and standard gauge steam engines.

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Feel free to copy and use these photos.


Kenneth Riddle
Johnson City, Tennessee
November 2005