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Edition #55, June 1, 2007

All About The Horns

Photographer: Mike Mullins

                                                        Photo by Mike Mullins

All About The Horns

Pulling into some farmer’s field and hopping out of Astro to check out the location, my friend and fellow horn collector Eric Marks heard way off in the distance the beginning of the first of four Oak Ridge "Blair-Trains".

Once every year a good-sized group of people get together on a shortline called the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum, or SARM. We'll rent out a section of the railroad and one or two locomotives to mount our horns on to do a few run-bys with. But come around 6:00PM or so, once we've gotten everyone's horn mounted for a run-by, we'll get a short train of 2-3 coaches and one locomotive on each end and head up to the NS Interchange at Blair, Tennessee and back. Hence the Oak Ridge Blair-Trains.

To us horn collectors and audio recorder guys it's more than just an evening train ride from here to there and back. We'll all get together before the train departs from where we do our run-bys and auction off the opportunity for two lucky people to have their horns mounted for the Blair-Train; their horns heard echoing off the vast mountain ranges between Blair and Oak Ridge.

Walking back across the farmers field with our recorders sitting off beside a bail of hay recording every second of the sound all of us railroaders consider our own version of music. By the time Eric and I got back to the Astro the warm and yellowish glow from the headlight of Charlie's GP30 starts to illuminate the trees on the sides of the hollow.

Air-Tone H-5 Horn on a Blair Train

My ears ringing as Charlie taps the horn on the GP30 at us a little, slowly passing us up and the rest of the horn fanatics waving from the coaches as Eric and I take in a sound that he and I both could listen to for countless hours.

All about the horns…

Mike Mullins

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