Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The F&P Railroad

From 1880 until 1932, the Franklin & Pittsylvania Railroad ran through what is now my front yard and slowed down at the Novelty Depot to grab a mailbag from a hook and toss off another. The narrow gauge railroad, which made its first run on April 16, 1880, ran thirty-one miles from Rocky Mount in Franklin County to Gretna (then called Franklin Junction and later Elba) in Pittsylvania County. (The railroad's timeline is here.)

The rails probably went through this section of my lawn to the Novely Depot in the distance.
The road at left was once the old Louis Island Road.

Nicknamed "the Fast and Perfect" by locals, it was neither neither fast nor perfect. Beset by many problems, it never even made a profit. But the stories about it are pretty interesting—and Tex D. Carter has done a commendable job documenting some of these stories, as well as giving a brief history of the railroad, in his 35-page self-published book, The Old Fast & Perfect. (He plans a larger book in the future.) Available from Carter when he does presentations and also from Amazon, the book gives an interesting glimpse into a part of local history. 

This page from his book features a photo of the locomotive:

. . . and pages 30-31 have photos from some of the depots along the line near where I live—the Glade Hill Depot, the Union Hall Depot, Novelty, and the Pen Hook (it used to be two words) Depot.

Carter relates some of the accidents that happened along the line. On page 12, he refences a January 1915 Lynchburg News article about wreck near Union Hall, in which the train "derailed and two passenger coaches rolled down a steep embankment. While the passengers were "shaken up," none was seriously hurt. Other accidents resulted in fatalities. Carter included a photo of a brief news article about this accident: "Frank Haley of Franklin Junction, hostler on the Franklin and Pittsylvania branch of the Southern Railway, was run over near Union Hall to-day, severing both his legs, from which he died in a few hours.He was thirty-five yers old and is survived by a wife and children." He briefly mentions another accident, in which conductor Nathan Rucker "was killed while inserting a coupling pin between two cars."

The train never ran over twenty-five miles per hour, but still had ome problems staying on track. A quote from the back cover:

Carter has used a collection of pictures, news articles, letters, and recollections to tell this interesting story of the railroad that cut through two counties. If you're from Franklin or Pittsylvania counties, you'll enjoy reading about this regional history. Even if you ain't from around here, and you're a railroad buff, you'll enjoy the book. Since Carter is planning a much more detailed book in the future, this one will give you a good preview of what to expect.

Tex D. Carter holding the proof copy.

I have enjoyed reading my copy of The Old Fast & Perfect. I think Arlo the cat did, too.

Arlo wonders how he can use a spike from the F&P as a bookmark.
At $5.00 per copy, this little book is a bargain!

Note: I mentioned Tex and the F&P in my earlier blog-post about the Penhook Pottery. Clay from Pittsville was hauled to the pottery via the F&P.
Note: On Thursday, July 13, Tex D. Carter will be doing two book signings: Carl's Place in Pen Hook at 10 AM, and the history museum in Rocky Mount from noon until 2 PM.

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Blogger Inspired Traveler said...

I love all train stories! New to me! I bet Keister's grandparents knew of it!

8:24 AM  
Blogger Sonja Ingram said...


this is great. I just recently visited the Sandy Level depot and am trying to find out which ones still stand.

Sonja Ingram
Preservation Virginia

9:40 AM  

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