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Uncle Jack Fultz’s Memories of Carter County: The railroad legacy

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Carter County has an interesting relationship with the railroads. Once the life blood of the county and her early industries, like lumber and refractories, they also helped connect the disparate communities of a large county like Carter in a way they otherwise wouldn’t have been in the days before the automobile. 

Though her communities haven’t heard a lonesome train whistle in quite some time, Carter County still bears markers of her railway heyday – from train bridges and abandoned rail beds to the Depot building in Olive Hill.

When trains were a regular part of travel through the county, though, they were also a potential danger. Throughout 1918 and 1919 the editors of the Carter County Herald railed about the need for a safe crossing and stricter enforcement of speed limits through town – seizing on an April 1919 incident where a seven-year-old girl was nearly hit by a train to support a proposed decrease of the speed limit from 12 mile per hour to 6 mile per hour. 

In the fall of 1920, after fighting “for the past seven years” the Herald and her allies were successful in convincing the Olive Hill city council to close a “Death Trap,” when that body passed an ordinance forcing the C&O Railroad to “place gates or a watchman at the main crossing in Olive Hill.” In October of that year, a month after the passage of the ordinance, the C&O began compliance. While it was too late for lives already lost, the paper praised the move as a future lifesaving change. 

Unfortunately for a certain gosling, there was no saving it from the Blue Goose, the commuter train that ran on EK Railway lines out of Grayson. In January 1922, running late and with a group of passengers wanting to catch the C&O train from Hitchins before its departure, it was speeding down the line with an inexperienced brakeman when the unfortunate gosling wandered into its path. 

“(M)other ‘Goose’ was soon hovering her beloved ‘Goslin’ under the shadow of her wing,” the paper read, in a darkly humorous, yet apt, metaphor. 

So, while the county may have lost some of the romance of the rails when the C&O and the EK pulled up tracks and left, young geese across the county can breathe easier knowing they won’t fall victim to the Blue Goose anytime soon. 

Editor’s Note: This is the 41st in a series of articles drawn from historical newspaper clippings in the collection of the late Jack Fultz.

Visit us online for a full list of reference articles. 

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