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Edition #194  March 15, 2013

Murphy Branch, Misty Morning

Photographer: Richard Hayes

                                                                      Photo by Richard Hayes

Murphy Branch, Misty Morning

The day was October 19, 2012, the occasion my birthday, the surprise a train excursion that I had hinted about to my wife for some time. As my best friend and partner in life, she could not have been more accommodating. She loves trains and railroad history as much as I do; of course, it helps that she comes from a three generation railroad family who worked for the Atlantic Coast Line.

We arrived in Bryson City, N.C. for our half-day excursion on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad which operates a branch of the Murphy line which was established in 1891 allowing access to one of the most remote and beautiful places in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina and the present-day Smoky Mountain National Park. GSMR was formed in 1988 when the Norfolk Southern closed the Andrews to Murphy leg of the Murphy Branch.

We arrived around 7:30 a.m. for our 9 a.m. scheduled departure. Always curious to explore rail yards and the equipment, I pulled up my jacket hood to keep out the bone chilling misty rain. I left the other passengers and my wife at the station, huddled together trackside. I walked down the track “a right far piece” as we say around here. And what to my wandering (and wondering) eyes should appear: a gorgeous, fabulously restored Santa Fe caboose sitting on a siding. To make the scene complete, far off in the mist I heard the distant growl and saw the shrouded head end diesels which would power our excursion.

Like most of you, nothing is more thrilling than to have my camera at the ready and be challenged with a scene that badly needs recording at that moment, in its own unique way. As a wannabe professional photographer, I am always searching for that scene and impressionistic photo statement for which my friends and your readers will hopefully render a collective sigh and “ahh!” I like to call it a “railroad rush” that most of us experience when we reenter the world of youth or make believe or whatever comes first!

So I hope that I have not disappointed anyone. Like so many of your great archived photos, I hope that this one stands up and speaks well of at least two great Fallen Flags; that by almost closing ones eyes, holding ones breath, crossing ones fingers and wishing very hard, the sight and sound encompassing this scene, which too few younger folks may be able to appreciate unless they catch the wave now, will remain for us a special time and place that we share.

Richard Hayes

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