Extra South (Review)

Extra South (Review)

ne of the things that stuck with me in the movie The Flim Flam man (set in the “old South” at the end of the fifties) was the railroads. You saw L&N, Southern, and even Monon trains doing their small-town switching in their rural ways.

I was reminded of it in Extra South, a wonderful book by author H. Reid. Here he focuses (in anecdote and pictures) of what the mid-to-late century was like on the sleepy lines of the South. From sugar cane railroads to tiny branch lines, even the railroad that went to Virginia Tech (my Alma mater, served by The Huckleberry), it was a wonderful book of the world that has passed into the shadows.

I really liked the stories about Cy Crumley, a one-time brakeman who became a conductor on the fabled Tweetsie Railroad. That is the line that ran from Boone down the valley, past Grandfather Mountain. Tales of dealing with poor mountain people, of him being ask to shop for them, or carry them when broke or distressed, of his life as a compassionate man, were really touching., The only sad thing about it were the references to the Tweetsie living on as a tourist attraction (it isn’t, not anymore).

But yes, these are stories of the Old South, where railroading was a casual thing that got the job done. Eventually.