Throwback Thursday: Railroad Career in Bruceton Remembered

This week’s throwback Thursday looks back at the July 17, 1996 edition of the Carroll County News-Leader. Garland Enloe McClure, then a resident of Life Care in Bruceton, gave an interview recalling his railroad career in the area.

Resident Recalls Railroad Career; Employed For Over 40 Years

By Shirley Nanney

A railroader from the past, Garland Enloe McClure, when he was a resident in Life Care of Bruceton in 1996.

Garland Enloe McClure remembers when railroading was in its heyday in Bruceton.

He was a part of the action himself as he repaired and inspected train cars for the North Carolina & St. Louis Railway.

The 90-year-old man now makes his home at Life Care in Bruceton, where he’s been since March 28, 1994.

“I got a job with the railroad shop when I was 15,” McClure said. “I worked 42 years and six months.”

The kindly gentleman has lived all of his life but two years in the Hollow Rock/Bruceton area. During those two years he was in the U.S. Army, where he was stationed in India when Japan was trying to overrun China. There he was in the Railway Operating Battalion and helped operate the railroad.

The train hauled supplies and machinery to China. It started in Calcutta, India and crossed to the Himalayan Mountains. The supplies were then flown to their destination in China.

“I wasn’t in battle and I appreciated that,” McClure said. “I lived just like at home.”

He remembered building a camp out of bamboo.

“The camp burned and we had to set up four-man camps.”

McClure said during his service time that he went completely around the world.

McClure married Suzanna Delaby in 1942. He met her when she came to Bruceton to train employees at the Henry I. Siegel plant.

Garland Enloe McClure and his wife, Suzanne, who died in 1988. They married in 1942 when she came to work at H.I.S. to train employees.

He and his wife resided on S. Carroll Street. She died in 1988.

They had no children but he has one niece, Martha Jo Freeland.

McClure said he enjoyed working for the railroad.

“If I hadn’t enjoyed railroad work, I wouldn’t have stayed 42 years,” he smiled.

He’s seen both Hollow Rock and Bruceton grow over the years.

“It was called Hollow Rock Junction back then,” he said.

When trains came into the station, he and another inspector would walk down each side of the train cars and check the wheels and undercarriage for any type of defect.

“If we found something wrong, we’d mark the car so it could go to the shop for repairs,” he said.

Back then he recalled that the freight trains hauled a lot of machinery and fruit. During the 1930s he also read meters in Bruceton.

He was born October 14, 1905 around Hollow Rock to Elvis Enloe and Flora Duncan McClure. His father died when he was two-years-old. He had one half brother, Joe Neal Prince, who is now deceased.

McClure’s cousins, Hazel Wright of Camden and Ina Billingsley of Waverly, remembered that he was a handsome man.

“He didn’t marry until he was 37,” said Wright. “I don’t know how he escaped that long.”

Bruceton, he remembered, was one of the first towns in Carroll County to have electricity since the electric current was furnished by a steam generator that was fired by coal through a service offered by the railroad.

He said it was 11¢ a kilowatt and that the minimum fee was $1 per month.

McClure says he enjoys living at Life Care.

“If I can’t be at home, it’s the next best place,” he smiled.

He says if he had his life to live over, he probably wouldn’t do anything any differently.

“I’ve had some hard times, but the good always outweighed the bad,” he said.

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