Best Holiday wishes to all:
We at Red Springs & Northern Railroad are more busy this Holiday season than usual. Hurricane Matthew in November dealt Robeson County a severe blow in every category, from loss of housing to loss of crops. The railroad damage was no exception. I selected a couple of representative phots to give the reader a brief overview. So far, with only volunteer labor and our own funds, we have the line cleared of trees. It was a major operation with miles of trees, many large, down across the tracks. I would estimate that 7-8 miles out of the 14 were significantly blocked. There remains five major washouts on the line and new culverts will have to be installed where none existed before. The flooding water has sculpted our rather flat land with new water courses.
There are five wood pile bent trestles on the line. All were “overtopped” by water. It is fortunate that they were overtopped by water that was not coursing rapidly over them. They are all in place. They don’t appear to be knocked out of alignment, and hopefully are structurally sound. There is no visible structural damage. RSN had all the trestle inspected by a professional CSX bridge inspector several years ago and they were in pretty good condition. Over time they would get some new decking (ties) and stringers. We will try to get the bridge inspector back in later
There has been a core of a dozen or so active persons completing this work. Some of our members came from as far away as GA to help with tree removal. After much effort to work with FEMA and our local Congressman, David Rouzer, RSN has been told it is not eligible for any monetary relief due to its non-profit status. RSN does qualify for Small Business Loans, but that is not was is needed, a loan we cannot afford to take on. The membership that is actively working on the line is optimistic. Optimism has been the driving force since RSN gained ownership of the line. RSN is currently looking for a clinic where you can get a good dose of optimism infusions. And RSN has found just such a place.
The BOD has located a local contractor who likes trains. He is somewhat knowledgeable about track structure, but many of the core members have developed pretty good track skills. So, at the last board meeting, $20,000 was allocated for the purchase of materials and payment to the contractor to begin work on the washouts. Doing something is important to maintain enthusiasm and interest. RSN finalized the decision to run its Christmas Trains out of Red Springs the two weekends preceding Christmas. The track and ROW for the runs have been cleared and inspected. The Friday after this past Thanksgiving, volunteer work crews began grooming the Red Springs Depot lot and area. A huge new 25 ft. high Christmas tree is sitting on a trailer waiting to be set up this next week on depot grounds. It was purchased and delivered by a member family. As we get closer to the runs, RSN members will begin setting out the large blow up displays. Almost all the lights, displays and big blow up decorations are member purchased. Last year, for the first time, we had several of our big blow up displays stolen. They are expensive and are member donated. We work with the local police, but it is difficult to protect miles of line 24/7 for the 12 days they have to be up.
The depot already has Christmas lights, some of the strings of colored lights are in place in the boarding area. Tomorrow, the member who brought the tree in with his tractor trailer, is going to begin getting it up righted. The posters have been printed and are being distributed. The local police, fire and EMS are helping us again. So – this is the RSN optimism infusion clinic. If you need dose of optimism this Holiday season, think about the people trying to make some part of Christmas a little more normal in a community that is struggling to get back on its feet.
A bright spot. Tomorrow my wife and I will begin a week long construction project funded by NCDOT-RAIL, with a good railroad contractor installing two new grade crossings on the line, SR20 in Lumber Bridge and SR71 south of Parkton. Our room reservations are made for the coming week in Lumberton in a motel that was in the flood zone but has re-opened.
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers.
RSN is working its way back.
BOD – Red Springs & Northern Railroad