Central of Georgia Steam Locomotive 58 Central of Georgia Locomotive 401 Central of Georgia Locomotive 776 Central of Georgia Locomotive 486 Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Steam Train at Summerville, Georgia, Depot

Welcome to Harpswitch.com

Thank you for visiting the web site of Harpswitch.com! We are located in Walker County, nestled in the ridges between historic Chickamauga, Georgia, and Scenic Lookout Mountain. We are also located close to Chickamauga Battlefield National Military Park.

Why the name Harpswitch?

The simple answer is that I needed a domain name and I have an affinity for trains. On the property where I live there are the remnants of an old railroad, the Durham-to-Chickamauga line. The railroad was used to carry coal from the Durham mine, on nearby Lookout Mountain, to the Coke Ovens, in Chickamauga, where the coal was converted to coke. In turn, the coke was shipped to nearby Chattanooga, Tennessee, to be used as fuel for the iron and steel industry.

The use of this historic line was discontinued in the early 1950's and disassembled shortly thereafter. When the Durham line was active and carried passengers, there was a flag-station passenger stop, called Harp, that was located approximately 3.3 miles from Chickamauga, very near my home. The name, Harp, most likely came from the placement, nearby, of a three-way track switching device, called a harp switch, used by railroads (getting its name from the harp shape at its base). The harp 'switching' lever could be fastened in any of three positions and could be easily seen by the train's engineer. It is known that there was a nine car siding at the Harp flag station and, likely, a Harp Switch was in use to control the sidings. There are references on old documents and maps of the area that refer to Harpswitch, Harp Switch and Harp's Switch. In fact, one of the nearby county roads is named Harpswitch Road. No matter the spelling, the most common assumption is that, since railroad personnel commonly named areas along a railroad line by features of the railroad line itself, the name was ultimately derived from the lowly piece of railroad equipment with the angelic name.

When it came to choosing a domain name for our website it sounded like a natural, but unique fit while, at the same time, paying honor to a little bit of area history. We've been able to accumulate a small amount of historic information and photos about this railroad and we've placed that information here on our site. If you have any kind of information, stories, photographs or other memorabilia about the Durham-to-Chickamauga Railroad, please let me know and I will gladly add it to the site.

Please take a look around our site, enjoy your visit, and do come back often.

One Day While Getting the Oil Changed...

Okay, you've been to the oil change places, right? My good buddies over at East Ridge Fast Lube, in Chattanooga, has a place with two lanes that will hold two cars each. Well, today I stopped by and managed to get the spot just adjacent to the cashier's window - literally within arms reach out my driver's side window. So, the guys are working on my car and I'm sitting in the driver's seat reading a couple chapters of a good book while waiting. Someone dropped something and it made a loud noise and I turned to look out the window to see what it was and was promptly greeted by the image you see in the photo below. It was not pretty.

Now, it was a rather cool day and my first thought was that this guy must surely feel a draft. Apparently not because he stayed in that position for several minutes. After giving the guy ample time to correct the situation, which he failed to do, I finally decided to pull out the ole' Blackberry and take a photo. It was kinda like when you drive by a really gruesome traffic accident. You know you shouldn't look, and you really don't want to look, but you do it anyway. Yeah, kinda like that...

Happy Independence Day

We had some friends and relatives over for the 4th and I made this cake! It's become an Independence Day tradition around our place.

When in the course of human events.... Almost everyone knows the first line, if not the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. But how many people know the last paragraph. It is in this summary statement where the original signers put it all on the line and it is the oath, the promise, that allows our great nation to endure, even to today!

Have You Ever...

Have you ever driven past something that you drive past every day and thought afterwards that something didn't seem right? The other morning I pulled out of our neighborhood on to the main road. I had gone about 1/4 mile when I had that feeling that something in the woods beside my house didn't seem normal. It was bad enough that I turned around and went back. Here is a photo of what was wrong.

This is basically a small ravine/drainage area that is about twelve feet below the road surface. I went down to check that no one was still in the car. They weren't. There was hardly a scratch on the car and how it missed all the trees, who knows? When I got home from work that day the car was gone. I'm sure there's a good story there somewhere...

Go Rest High On That Mountain

My dear friend, Pastor Jim Sailors, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. Although the churches he pastored were not my "home" church, Jim was "my" pastor. He was a pastor for 31 years and was pastor at Resaca First Assembly of God at the time of his death. Our loss is truly Heaven's gain.

Pastor Jim was a veteran of the United States Army, and served in Vietnam handling German Shepherds that were specially trained for the military. He still had a very soft spot in his heart for German Shepherds and I know that he loved mine.

Jim had worked full time as a custodian at The Bank of LaFayette, for 18 years. Not too long before his death he was asked to make a trip to Atlanta and lead the Georgia Assembly in opening prayer before their session began. Jim could always get to the heart of the matter when he was praying and he did so that day. One senior senator came up to him afterwards and thanked him for such a beautiful prayer and asked about his position at the bank. Surely he was a vice-president or an office of the bank? Jim simply replied, "No, just the janitor". That was Jim. Always humble, always the servant.

But mostly Jim was one of the kindest, most decent people I've ever known. The picture below tells you all you need to know. What you saw was what you got.

I will miss him terribly...

See Rock City

Each Christmas season, Rock City, high atop Lookout Mountain, puts on a "Festival of Lights". Bryan and his lovely girlfriend, Nikki, came up and spent a few days with us and Bryan treated us all with tickets to the Festival. Here's the obligatory photo...

They claim to have over 1 millions twinkling lights although I could only find slightly over 943,223! False advertising? Who knows? And the lights aren't twinkling, Clark!

I Married Way Out of My League

The picture below was taken at the Walker County Chamber of Commerce Gala, held at the Fairyland Club, on Lookout Mountain.
I'm lucky to be able to say that the pretty thing in the picture is my wife, Mary. I guess I clean up pretty nice, too!

Family Resemblance

This is a picture of my nephew, Dusty, and me. Everyone says we look and act just alike. I guess I just don't see it....

Honoring A True Hero

I asked my good friend Vic, at Apollo Laser Engraving, to make this plaque for my brother-in-law, Larry Alexander.

Larry lives in Seale, Alabama, and served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. His job was to land in hot LZ's in Vietnam, with the enemy firing at him, and drop off soldiers. He would return, over and over again, to pick up the same soldiers - some wounded, some dead.
Larry is very proud of his service to his country and he spends considerable time and his hard-earned money helping to make sure that our Vietnam-era veterans are not forgotten. Each Labor Day, Larry and his wife, Carolyn, host a big barbecue on their farm and invite over 100 guests. Many are fellow Vietnam vets and many bear the scars of their service. It is an honor to be in their presence each year and I am deeply grateful for their service and sacrifice.
And thank you, Larry, for helping us not to forget!

Chattanooga's Finest?

So, I need to vent a little. Got a call from our alert system at work this morning around 1:45. It said the temperature in the computer room was high. Since there is about a half-million dollars worth of equipment in the room I got dressed and headed in to see what was the problem. Yeah, I was in a hurry, but I got a call from the guard who had managed to get the computer room door open and had strategically placed some box fans so that some cooling air would get it to the room and stabilize things.

So, I wasn't in a hurry anymore. I was making my way up S. Broad Street in Chattanooga, a nice, divided 4-lane highway. I was doing about 45 mph on a highway where normal traffic runs 50. The patrol car was parked in a dark lot and I was the only vehicle on the road at the time so when he started moving, I knew he was after me.


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