"Talk 'bout railroads bein' a blessin'," said Brother Dickey, "des look at de loads an' loads er watermelons deys haulin' out de state, ter dem folks 'way up North what never done nuthin' ter deserve sich a dispensation!"
On one of the southern railroads there is a station-building that is commonly known by travelers as the smallest railroad station in America. It is of this station that the story is told that an old farmer was expecting a chicken-house to arrive there, and he sent one of his hands, a new-comer, to fetch it. Arriving there the man saw the house, loaded it on to his wagon and started for home. On the way he met a man in uniform with the words "Station Agent" on his cap.
"Say, hold on. What have you got on that wagon?" he asked.
"My chicken-house, of course," was the reply.
"Chicken-house be jiggered!" exploded the official. "That's thestation!"
"I read of the terrible vengeance inflicted upon one of their members by a band of robbers in Mississippi last week."
"What did they do? Shoot him?"
"No; they tied him upon the railroad tracks."
"Awful! And he was ground to pieces, I suppose?"
"Nothing like it. The poor fellow starved to death waiting for the nexttrain."—W. Dayton Wegefarth.
The reporter who had accompanied the special train to the scene of the wreck, hurried down the embankment and found a man who had one arm in a sling, a bandage over one eye, his front teeth gone, and his nose knocked four points to starboard, sitting on a piece of the locomotive and surveying the horrible ruin all about him.
"Can you give me some particulars of this accident?" asked the reporter, taking out his notebook.
"I haven't heard of any accident, young man," replied the disfigured party stiffly.
He was one of the directors of the railroad.
The Hon. John Sharp Williams had an engagement to speak in a small southern town. The train he was traveling on was not of the swiftest, and he lost no opportunity of keeping the conductor informed as to his opinions of that particular road.
"Well, if yer don't like it," the conductor finally blurted out, "why in thunder don't yer git out an' walk?"
"I would," Mr. Williams blandly replied, "but you see the committee doesn't expect me until this train gets in."
"We were bounding along," said a recent traveler on a local South African single-line railway, "at the rate of about seven miles an hour, and the whole train was shaking terribly. I expected every moment to see my bones protruding through my skin. Passengers were rolling from oneend of the car to the other. I held on firmly to the arms of the seat. Presently we settled down a bit quieter; at least, I could keep my hat on, and my teeth didn't chatter."There was a quiet looking man opposite me. I looked up with a ghastly smile, wishing to appear cheerful, and said:
"'We are going a bit smoother, I see.'
"'Yes,' he said, 'we're off the track now.'"
Three men were talking in rather a large way as to the excellent train service each had in his special locality: one was from the west, one from New England, and the other from New York. The former two had told of marvelous doings of trains, and it is distinctly "up" to the man from New York.
"Now in New York," he said, "we not only run our trains fast, but we also start them fast. I remember the case of a friend of mine whose wife went to see him off for the west on the Pennsylvania at Jersey City. As the train was about to start my friend said his final good-by to his wife, and leaned down from the car platform to kiss her. The train started, and, would you believe it, my friend found himself kissing a strange woman on the platform at Trenton!"
And the other men gave it up.
An express on the Long Island Railroad was tearing away at a wild and awe-inspiring rate of six miles an hour, when all of a sudden it stopped altogether. Most of the passengers did not notice the difference; but one of them happened to be somewhat anxious to reach his destination before old age claimed him for its own. He put his head through the window to find that the cause of the stop was a cow on the track. After a while they continued the journey for half an hour or so, and then—another stop.
"What's wrong now?" asked the impatient passenger of the conductor.
"A cow on the track."
"But I thought you drove it off."
"So we did," said the conductor, "but we caught up with it again."
The president of one great southern railway pulled into a southern city in his private car. It was also the terminal of a competing road, and the private car of the president of the other line was on a side track. There was great rivalry between these two lines, which extended from the president of each down to the most humble employe. In the evening the colored cook from one of the cars wandered over to pass the time of day with the cook on the other car.
One of these roads had recently had an appalling list of accidents, and the death-toll was exceptionally high. The cook from this road sauntered up to the back platform of the private car, and after an interchange of courtesies said:
"Well, how am youh ole jerkwatah railroad these days? Am you habbing prosper's times?"
"Man," said the other, "we-all am so prosperous that if we was any moah prosperous we just naturally couldn't stand hit."
"Hough!" said the other, "we-all am moah prosperous than you-all."
"Man," said the other, "we dun carry moah'n a million passengers last month."
"Foah de Lord's sake!" ejaculated the first negro. "You-all carried moah'n a million passengers? Go on with you, nigger; we dun kill moah passengers than you carry."