Steam engine passes through Easley
Residents gather near tracks to watch train go by.
A question passed through the lips of many residents as they drove through downtown Easley Monday afternoon.
Why are all these people waiting by the railroad tracks?
The answer is that the people, many of them train buffs, had received word that a steam engine would be passing through Easley on its way from Atlanta.
Richard Helderman of Travelers Rest came to Easley on Saturday to see if he could see the train. He had no luck that day, but returned Monday morning to begin his wait anew.
Helderman describes himself as "a big train buff."
"Oh yeah," he said. "I love them. I'll be 78 my next birthday, and I've been fooling with trains since I was a little boy. I've got toy trains that run through the house. I really enjoy them."
Helderman said he thought it was the power of trains that appealed to him.
"They're awesome," he said. "Anything that can pull 120 cars and three or four engines has got my vote."
As the day went on, Helderman was joined by others who'd heard of the train, which was making an excursion trip from Atlanta, and was slated to stop in Greenville Monday night.
The spectators kept track of the train's progress, listening to dispatches that marked its course through Central and Liberty.
Their patience was rewarded right around five o'clock, as the warning signal went off and the gates came down.
Just a minute or so later, the train pulled into view.
New Easley resident Beth Dudley said she's both a train buff and a camera buff.
Riding by around 3:30, Dudley saw some people waiting by the tracks and asked what was going on. Then she went home, grabbed her camera and came back.
"My grandfather was an engineer on a train, and I think I've had it in my blood," she said.
Her grandfather worked on a Florida to New York route.
She said she thinks her grandfather's work on trains planted a seed.
"All my kids like trains, too, so I guess it's genetic," Dudley said.
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