Passed By

Sometimes when you travel, you step out of the ordinary. Away from the highways, sometimes away from the pavement, you find places where time has seemingly passed by.

Todd, North Carolina is one of those places. A railroad line once terminated there, there were mills and shops, a growing community. Lumber fueled everything, and when the trees were all cut, the trains stopped running.

Today, there is the Todd General Store, a church, and a canoe/kayak rental shop in one of the old train buildings. The tracks are gone, a paved road now follows the old rail bed. An old caboose and a diesel locomotive sit on a tiny piece of track, faded and rusting.

We rode our bicycles for several miles along the river and stopped in the general store. A mix of old hardware and new tourist memorabilia, antiques upstairs. They sell some basic groceries and serve food from behind the old meat counter. An eclectic collection of unmatched tables and chairs fill the center of the room clustered around an old wood stove. Every Friday night they have a dinner special and live bluegrass music.

Six o’clock, baked chicken and homemade mashed potatoes, homemade soups and cake. The food was good and plentiful. By seven almost every seat was taken. Two guitars, a banjo, a bass, a mandolin, and a fiddle. They played for two hours. Old Hank Williams tunes, gospel hymns, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and Tom Dooley, all played for twenty-five people sitting in an old store.

You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person.
–Alec Waugh


6 thoughts on “Passed By

  1. I miss North Carolina. Places like that were always fun to find and seemed to be everywhere.

    Some of the nicest folks also.

    I was wandering the backroads one weekend and got completely lost. I'm talking top of the mountain, goat track remnant of the road.

    Came upon a literal tar paper shack and ask how to get back to the highway. Grand dad said that a city boy like me probably would get lost again so instead of telling me he would have grandson show me the way.

    Ask the grandson how far it was and he said about 4 miles – down the mountain.

    Told him he could just point me in the right direction and go back after just a couple hundred yards.

    Young gentleman said that Pappy would skin him if he didn't obey and make sure I got to the road.

    Think of that…a complete stranger trusted with a grandson and then the young man (about 12) willing to walk 4 miles up the mountain — just to help me find the highway.

    Really enjoyed being stationed there for 4 years; Goldsboro.

    Thanks for the memories.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful place to kill a few hours. I like music (and food) like that.

  3. Nice post. Don't know if you ever check out my blog, but my GF and I go on excursions here in NC nearly every weekend, and try to photograph what we find. We were up on the Blue Ridge Parkway two weekends ago, lucked out since it was a nice day and the last weekend with good color up there, although at the higher elevations (we went by Mt. Mitchell) the leaves were already dropped.

  4. Hmmm. That gives me fodder for another post. There's a small town not far from me whose existence at ALL is due to the railroad. It disdained the railroad so the railroad cut it out of its operations and now trains simply cruise by instead of stopping for crew change.

    In fact, ALL the towns and cities from Sacramento and on east, paralleling I-80, owe their existence to the first transcontinental railroad, the Central Pacific.


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