The Cy Crumley Scrapbook
ET&WNC Railroad

Tour 7a: Sherman Pippin


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.

Lucius Beebe
Date: 1930s

That guy with the leggings in the foreground at Pardee Point is Lucius Beebe, probably the greatest railroad author in history (except for our own current authors John Waite and Johnny Graybeal).  He made several trips to the narrow gauge down thru the years sometimes with his partner Charles Clegg.  He wrote a book right after the war called "Mixed Train Daily" that has, for my money, the best ET&WNC section of any of that type of book.

He came along again in the dark days of 1946, when the hand writing was on the wall that the narrow gauge was not long for the world, and wrote "the fates of things such as Tweetsie are left to a power higher than the Interstate Commerce Commission".  You were probably right on that one, Louie. This picture is from a 1930's excursion.


Tweetsie Excursion Postcard
Date: 1930s

One of numerous postcards commemorating the excursion experience along the great ET&WNC (Tweetsie) Railroad showing the scenery of the Doe River Gorge. Postcard courtesy of Bob L. Cox.


Doe River Gorge
Date: 2005
Doe River as viewed by rail.  At this point in the tour you have to see exactly what the thousands of folks saw back in the twentieth century on the excursion trains with Sherman Pippin and Cy Crumley.


Up the Mountain
Date: Late 1930s

Old Tweetsie is puffing up the mountain with this excursion train in the late 1930s


Inside the Excursion Car
Date: 1939
Inside the excursion car on August 8, 1939 or so the back of the picture said. The excursion car shown above were open air (wrapped in a wire/mesh enclosure with benches for seating.



Passenger Coach
Date: 1930s
Here is a really really rare picture.  The young lady may be a model from the publicity train, but she is inside one of the narrow gauge coaches.  The cars came from a little railroad near Boston and were bought second hand. Johnny Graybeal has a new book out in his series that tells all about the coaches.  Everybody needs to get one if you are seriously interested in the narrow gauge Tweetsie.

Shown below are interior views of a vintage passenger car currently in service at Tweetsie Railroad. (Photos courtesy of Bart Davis).

A Peek Inside
Date: 2005

Inside View
Date: 2005




14 with Excursion
Date: 1930s

Here's the 14 with what looks like an excursion train from the 1930s.  I have no clue where this was taken.  Anybody got a guess e-mail it to





Date: 1940s
A special greets a waiting crowd at Roan Mountain. That is Mr. Crumley near the cab.




Cranberry Tank
Date: 1940s
Nice photo of Cranberry Tank with a train of company officials.




Little No.8
Date: 1920s

Sherman Pippin has his hand upon the throttle and his eye upon the camera on the first number 8 with the passenger train. This is another of the mysteriously disappearing pictures from Mr. Crumley's scrapbooks. 



Jim Carroll
Date: 1930s
This is a man named Jim Carroll at Pardee Point.  He was a guy who hung around the shops back during the heyday, and occasionally made money sweeping out the coaches, taking the trash off the train, and so forth.  He was supposed to be a lively character and loved the railroad.  He had a substance abuse issue (back then they would have called him a danged old drunk) and Sherman Pippin would give him money for food from time to time I understand.  He got drunk and passed out in the oil house at the Legion Street shop one cold night and froze to death.  I guess this is the only picture we have of him.




Sherman with the Girls
Date: 1938

Complete with Mr. Crumley's notes right from the scrapbook. Cy was sorting out his photo collection and attaching captions to his photos around 1970 as I recall.  Engineer Sherman Pippin talks it up with girls at Pardee Point (one of the Tennessee Tweetsie movie publicity shots). 


The Photo Spot
Date: 1930s
Sherman Pippin, Jim Miller, and Mr. Crumley entertain some Edith Crumley was glad to see this one. It has been a long tradition on excursions that this stop at Pardee Point serves as an opportunity for the train crew to have photos taken with pretty lady passengers.



Sherman and Uncle Nat
Date: 1938
Sherman Pippin hands down a package to Uncle Nat Fletcher, probably at Newland in 1938.

Sherman was a delightful old man when I knew him.  He lived at Roan Mountain and came to see Mr Crumley regularly up until Sherman caught the westbound in 1976.  The last times I saw him he was walking with two canes, but still very sharp and driving himself.  He wrote a lot of letters, including one that Ruth had saved.  He had a beautiful handwriting, almost like he was writing with a quill pen.  He wrote to his old friend Mr. Crumley "Ruth is a gem of the rarest kind and you, my old friend, are very lucky to have her to care for you." 

Sherman was well educated and a big wheel in the Shriners and Master Masons.  He made it to Old Timers' Day one year by driving all night from Norfolk where he had made a speech to the Masons on Friday night.  He hopped in his car and drove straight through to Tweetsie Railroad to be there Saturday morning.  He was well past eighty when he did that.


Big John Retires
Date: 1950s

Above, my uncle Big John Lewis (second from right) is shown in his retirement photo. From left to right in the photo are: D. B. Marion, Sherman Pippin, Fred Helton, Raymond McCoury, Uncle John, and Monk Bayless. Sherman was three hours older than Uncle John on the seniority list.  When they cut off the daily trip to Cranberry after the war, Sherman kicked Uncle John off the yard engineer day shift job he held for so long.  Rather than work at night Uncle John kicked Walt Allison off the day shift fireman job and went back to the scoop.  He lasted a couple weeks and then just retired. He said he would just go home and farm rather than fire.

Just a very short time after that Sherman retired as well and the two yard jobs went to Walt Allison and Fred Helton running and Brownie Allison and Earl Vest firing.  The second shift yard job (Brownie and Earl) usually ran the extras on the narrow gauge to Cranberry two or three times a week.  There were no regular narrow gauge trains after the mail contract went away other than the labor trains that I know of.



Tweetsie takes off
Date: 1940s

The engineer pulls the throttle, the fireman rings the bell, the conductor has just thrown the signal, and wherever he was on that rainy day during World War II Clint Cox was catching hell as Tweetsie hauls the labor train westbound out of Shell Creek destined for Bemberg. Actually Clint Cox was working at Bemberg during World War II.


Sherman Pippin
Date: 1938
  Sherman Pippin Figurine

Sherman Pippin Model
Date: 2007
Sherman Pippin Color Model

Here is a great shot of Sherman Pippin (which has inspired a figure available for model railroaders shown above).  I am pretty sure this photo was made with the publicity shots in 1938 for the movie Tennessee Tweetsie. Sherman was a really great guy and one of the best storytellers I ever saw.  He had a big farm up at Shell Creek and he could tell you how many trips he made as engineer on the passenger train to pay for it.  His mother, Ma Pippin, would come out at her house in Roan Mountain and hand him a box full of food and clean clothes every day.

His wife and he divorced way back years ago.  He had a constant companion, Miss Julie, from Roan Mountain.  After he retired he stayed around with Miss Julie about all the time, but she would not marry him because he had a living wife.  He might as well have been married to her.

There was an old lady that lived in a ramshackle house near White Rock.  There is a long curve on old Railroad Grade Road that you can see real well from Highway 19-E today.  It has a mobile home sitting there now.  In that house lived an old lady named Granny Alice Miller.  She thought that Sherman was her boyfriend and when the train would pass she would come out on the porch and wave at Sherman then turn around and pat her rear end at him.  He would climb down on the deck and pat his lap back at her.  This went on for years.

"Oh, girls beware of the railroad men.
They've got a girl on every line.
They'll toot on the whistle as the train rolls down
and come up and see you some time"

Oh Yeah!

Continue to the Next Page in this tour.
Back to the Previous Page

Feel free to copy and use these photos.


Kenneth Riddle
Johnson City, Tennessee
November 2005