Aug 3 2009
07:53 am
By: WhitesCreek

By Ray Collett

Hello Readers, My column last week about the school bus-train wreck brought in some emails. Among them was this one from Rockwood City Councilman Stan Wassom. I will share Stan's email with you...
Your latest column about the school bus-train wreck in Spring City stirred my memories. I was at football practice and Coach Bill Long and Hugh Giles (both graduates of Rockwood High School) were having a team meeting on the football field. They had just started talking when the train came by and the noise made them stop their pep talk. The football field is near the train tracks. Soon after the train's engine went by we heard a noise and the train started screaming as the brakes were applied and the wheels on the cars were locked up. Just a little while later there were numerous cars fire balling up the highway towards Rockwood with their horns blaring. We did not know what was going on until the parents of some of the players came to get their sons who were on the team. We heard them tell them that their sisters or brothers were in the wreck. It was a sad situation and a gloom was cast on all of us. We were dismissed and of course many of the players went to the crash scene. It was a mess and many of the towns people were milling around. I do recall going home and then returning and the crowd was still there at the crash scene. Now the mood had changed from shock to hostile. Many were saying bad things about the school bus driver and were calling for a lynching. I could not believe what I was hearing but it caused a shiver in my spine. The crowd stayed in this state for quite awhile and did not disperse until around midnight. The whole town went into mourning afterwards and this mood continued for many days. There were many incidents of heroisms on the part of the citizens of Spring City. I remember one in particular. Craven Hinch, who was our neighbor, was getting a shave in one of the town's two barber shops. He was in the chair all lathered up ready to go when the crash occurred. When he realized what was happening he ripped off the cloth used to cover customers and went running to the crash scene soaped up and all. One thing remarkable about this is that Mr. Hinch was crippled but adrenaline has taken hold and he actually ran about a block to help. He told me and my folks that after someone handed him a third child to carry out to a car to take them to the hospital, he just lost control and cried and could not continue.

Even though it has been many years since this sad event it is burned into my memory. Thank you for resurrecting this event because we should never forget this and the out pouring of good will from all of citizens in Spring City and surrounding areas especially Rockwood.


After this tragedy, many of the mothers and citizens of the Spring City area contacted their representatives in Nashville and through their efforts all school buses were required to "Stop, Look, and Listen" at all railroad crossings. Within a year, this became law in all of the states. Sometimes it takes a happening like this to open people's eyes.
Kudos to Barbara Hicks Mayfield Loyless !!!! After our RHS Classmates Reunion meeting last Wednesday. Barbara had a scary adventure going back to Crossville. Going up Rockwood mountain, she saw a small van across the east bound lane with its nose smashed into the mountainside. As Barb pulled off the road to call 911, she saw the driver getting a baby out of the back seat. Barb ran ahead up the mountain to alert traffic, and was successful in her effort, although there were a couple of near-misses. As she looked back, the driver was taking a second small child out of the van. A second vehicle stopped to help and got the woman and her children out of harm's way..Good job Barbara......
This wraps up another "Rockwood Memories", please keep your emails coming......Until next week, Ray

Very interesting post...

Thanks so much for this history. I've always wanted to know more.


Paul - I agree!

I love to see/read stories like this. And thanks to Ray for all the work (and writing these IS hard work, make no mistake!) he pours into this for our community.

Doesn't matter if we are Kingstonians, Rockwoodians, Harrimanites, or simply Roane Countians... These stories are the warp and weft that make the fabric of our communities the marvelous places that they are. And they illustrate that we should be really careful about talking down other communities because we live or emanate from a different one. Each area of our county has its similar stories, heroes, and, yes, villains.

These stories show us, quite clearly, the human strength and vitality that makes up where we live. These hardy mountain folk survived the Depression, survived The Great War, begat and raised highly successful and nationally recognized stalwarts, while at the same time giving us gifts like the clans we learned about a couple of months ago that produced the Phillipi Primitive Baptist Church. They may not make the national news line Nancy Ann Min-Parle, but nonetheless from such folk much strength is to be found. It just doesn't get richer than that, does it?

My God! What fertile soil for strength, growth, and progress our people are!

Methinks it should make us ashamed for some of our petty pissing and moaning we do with each other at times. We are cut of better cloth than that.

Just some ruminations...


Roane Reader

has been running his columns for quite some time.His book can be bought at Rocky Top in So Harriman

That's right, Lala...

I had forgot that. Thanks for the reminder.


Rockwood Memories

Thanks a lot guys for your words of encouragement. And thanks to WC for posting my columns on his website. A great site indeed! I started "Rockwood Memories" almost five years ago upon returning to Rockwood and seeing how the area (not just Rockwood) had changed. Publishing them weekly for sometime in the Rockwood Times, I have continued to email them out, along with local happenings and news to RHS Classmates, my weekly email list is rapidly nearing 1200. As far away as Hawaii and even Turkey, some of the readers have never been to Rockwood, Roane County, or even Tennessee but have grown to know and love the area and its people. And yes, it is time consuming (Rockwood has a fantastic library) but it is very fulfilling and when I wonder what I will write next, or even if I will write again, emails come in such as ones posted above and I am grateful. Thanks again for your support....Ray
My books, "Rockwood Memories" Vol. 1 and Vol. II can be found at.."Shack's Restaurant","O'Those Were The Days Antique Mall", "Gail Score's Western Apparel" "Yonder Hollow" all in Rockwood, and David Webb's "Rocky Top General Store" in Harriman

Can we get our copies signed?

My books, "Rockwood Memories" Vol. 1 and Vol. II can be found at.."Shack's Restaurant","O'Those Were The Days Antique Mall", "Gail Score's Western Apparel" "Yonder Hollow" all in Rockwood, and David Webb's "Rocky Top General Store" in Harriman

I have a wall of signed books and I need to add "Rockwood Memories" to it. Can we bring our books to Yonder Holler and have the honors done?

Rockwood Memories

You sure can, I will be honored to sign them....Ray

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid / TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.