Dillsboro will welcome railroad back

To the Editor:

There seems to be some confusion as to the withdrawal of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad from the town of Dillsboro, so let me try and set the record straight.

Back a few years ago the railway lost a tank mounted below one of its passenger cars on a return trip from Bryson City. The tank fell off the car as it passed a street crossing in Dills-boro that had been recently repaired. The immediate conclusion of the railroad was that it was the fault of the repaired roadway surface. Demands were made for repayment from the town for damages. The town promptly turned the matter over to its insurance company, whose adjuster came immediately and made a complete survey and report of the crossing and the damaged equipment. 

The insurance company determined that there was considerable doubt as to what caused the tank’s damage. The railroad then filed a lawsuit for the claimed damages. After following all legal procedures, including a session with a mediator, the case went to court in Asheville. 

On the day the judge was to enter his decision, the railroad withdrew the case. Last-minute evidence indicated the tank’s valve had been torn off in Whittier and the tank likely drug along, partly torn loose, and finally fell off at the Dillsboro Street crossing.

Shortly thereafter, the railroad announced it was closing its Dillsboro operation, stating it was due to a lack of business. If action by Dillsboro to protect taxpayer funds was driving the railway out of town, the town can hardly be blamed. 

The town would welcome the train back, and have done so during the recent times when the railroad has brought some excursions for short layovers, allowing folks to shop or refresh themselves. Dillsboro never held any ill will, having been falsely accused of having caused damage to the railroad’s equipment.

Herb Nolan

retired town clerk, Dillsboro

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