and Lars Byrne
Well-known historian of the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) Railway, Gene Huddleston, and central
West Virginia historian and photographer, Lars Byrne, share more than a love of railroads– they
are the 'grandsons' of Peyton Byrne, one of key personages of the 2007 Byrne Family Reunion.
Actually, Eugene L. Huddleston is the grandson of James Madison McClane and Julia Ann Byrne
of Greenup, Ky., and second great-grandson of Peyton Byrne (1765-1824). Lars O. Byrne is the
son of Charles A. (Al) Byrne and Mandaine (Lady) Olson Byrne, and the third great-grandson of
Peyton Byrne. The two are fourth cousins, once removed.
Both family members have been in the railroad news of late.
Gene had his book Trackside in Appalachia with Gene Huddleston published in 2006 by
Morning Sun Books. Lars has three of his photographs in the recent (May, 2007) edition of
Trackside in Appalachia is a hardbound (all color) book that relates Gene’s Appalachian roots
and experiences on the C&O, N&W and other coal haulers in the mountains. The book is 128
pages and lists at $59.95. It was published by Morning Suns Books and can be purchased at
most railroad and railfan outlets.
The story in the May issue of Trains Magazine is on the “Mountain Railroad Empire” of John
and Kathy Smith, and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad-- the line we will be riding on
come June 9. The article is authored by Alan Byer with photography principally by Matt Reese
and Lars Byrne from the Durbin, W.Va. based company. Trains Magazine is published monthly
by Kalmbach Publishing Company and is available by subscription and at most railroad and
Gene’s book begins with a piece by Jesse Stuart, poet, novelist and essayist (1906-84) from
W-Hollow near Greenup. The 2006 family reunion visited W-Hollow and the Stuart/Byrne house.
The ‘What is Appalachia?’ Stuart introduction (Head O’ W-Hollow (1936)) follows:
“You can follow the wind, for the wind blows west from the old E-K- Railroad, where the mail
used to start out once a day and then twice a day, but if a tunnel fell in, there was no mail at all.
Or if you come from the muddy Little Sandy, where people do their fishin and their baptzin in the
springtime– come to the covered bridge, turn east and follow your nose. If one stranger comes
from the old E-K- and another comes by the covered bridge . . . let one turn west following the
wind and the other turn east followin his nose, and they’ll meet somewhere in the bread pan of
"Trackside" is more than a book on railroading in Appalachia. The beginning of the book covers
his family history as well. Eugene L. Huddleston, Ph.D., retired in 1993 as a full professor at
Michigan State University but has been writing about his favorite railroad(s) for some time now. A
couple of recent books in my own collection (and still available for purchase) by Gene include
Appalachian Conquest (2002) and Chesapeake & Ohio Super Power Steam Locomotives (2005).
However, if you want a copy of Appalachian Crossing: The Pocahontas Roads (out of print), be
prepared to pay up to $150 and up for that edition.
May 13, 2007
Check some of the railroad photography–
Be Prepared to "Refresh" this page several
times in order to get all the pictures to download.
|Scenes from Trackside in Appalachia
are used with express permission
of Eugene Huddleston
Gene is one of several in a photo line taking pictures of Western Maryland Shay No. 6 as operated by
West Virginia's Cass Scenic Railroad State Park on a former section of C&O track during a special
excursion up the Greenbrier River in July 1985. After a devastating flood in November of 1985 cut the
rail line along the Greenbrier, Cass Scenic Railroad did not reopen the line. In the 1990's the state
leased the line to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad who has fixed a portion of the line from
Durbin towards Cass. Work still remains to reconnect the line.
Below, Lars is at the same location in the spring of 2002. He captures a different type of logging
locomotive called a Climax. The Climax still wears its original number as Moore-Keppel Lumber No. 3.
Gene grew up in Russel, Ky.,
shown at the left, about 1/4 mile
from were he took this shot of a
Baldwin switcher handling a cut
of empty hoppers in December
of 1958. He lived out of sight in
the right background.
Trackside In Appalachia talks about the region as well as just showing pictures of trains he shot there.
A coal mine camp between Tams and Stotesbury, W.Va. has the Chesapeake & Ohio line at the right
and the Virginian at the left. This scene was taken in April 1958.
Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) provide passenger, express and mail service to Marrowbone Junction, KY.
in 1960. The junction is on the C&O line from Ashland to Elkhorn City along the Big Sandy.
A Norfolk and Western coal train
passes, left, through Welch, W.Va.
and the famous Pocahontas Coal
Field with mostly Alco RS-11 power.
Below, Virginian electrics await the
scrapper in March of 1960 at
Ashland, Ky. Yes, the Virginian had
electrified lines in the West Virginia
Lars captured this Elkins, W.Va. yard scene in 1984. Some 11 years later all of the tracks were gone.
Today a hotel, music hall and a discount gas station/convenience store remain in the yard. There is
still hope, however, as this past winter a railroad bridge was put back over the Tygart River, Elkins
has built a town square and track is being laid down to the former Western Maryland depot,
background left. Our Byrne Family Reunion trip aboard the New Tygart Flyer will one of the first
groups of train passengers to ride out of the old depot that will celebrate its 100 birthday next year.
The area shown to the right is the car repair shops and further to the back is the area of the engine
facility at Elkins. Chessie System Railroads controlled the yard with this shot was taken.
Just to show some kind of parallel to cousin Gene, Lars has this view of the New Tygart Flyer and
its N&W equipment during its inaugural run in 1999 at Norton, W.Va. This equipment has since been
replaced on the West Virginia Central.
Lars grew up in Philippi, W.Va. Although not a coal town in the tradition of southern West Virginia, coal
has been and still is important to the region. In the spring of 2006, an Appalachian & Ohio (A&O)
Railroad train brings coal empties up the Tygart River from Grafton and is headed into the former
central W.Va. coal fields that once was the domain of the Baltimore & Ohio, Lars' favorite road. The
scene is at Morrall, just down river from Philippi.
Some eight miles up the river from Philippi is Century Junction and Lars caught the "Century Turn"
bringing its coal train back to the Cowen Main to pick up its caboose in 1983.
In the spring of 2006 the Durbin &
Greenbrier Valley Railroad was the
contractor railroad on the Beech
Mountain R.R. assembling and
interchanging coal for Carter Roag
Mine and the A&O. The old Baldwin
switcher is shown, above, at
Lars always thought this 2006 fall
scene of Western Maryland BL2
No. 82 would make a good
magazine cover. It hasn't yet, but
one never knows.
Below a cold winter scene is
captured in 2003 at Durbin, W.Va.
and Climax No. 3.
Finally, WM 67 heads northbound
out of Tunnel No. 1 with the New
Tygart Flyer. The EMD F7A-p began
life in the early 1950's as
Clinchfield Railroad 200. Lars
figures Gene probably has this
locomotive in his files as it spent
much of its life the coal fields
where Gene spent so much of his
time photographing trains.