By Michael Beadle
Take to the rails through Western North Carolina, and you’re bound to hear some history.
In the late 19th century, tracks were being laid from Asheville to Murphy by a group of convicts working on a portion of the railroad at the mouth of a tunnel at the Tuckasegee River. When a barge carrying these prisoners tipped over, 19 convicts weighed down by their iron shackles drowned. Today, when the tunnel drips, folks like to say it’s the tears of those convicts — just one part of the long history of railroads in Western North Carolina.