The Blue Goose

February 11, 2020

Although primarily timber and coal hauling railroad, The Morehead & North Fork also provided passenger service. Early in the 20th century there simply were no established roads and no automobiles in Rowan County. A few horse-drawn wagon trails and some cow paths were the main avenues of travel. Often creeks were not only forded but many times the wagon or horse would actually travel in the creek for long distances before finding the path again. A little rain meant you stayed home. 

Then The Morehead & North Fork Railroad arrives and now you can travel in relative` comfort and make the trip from Redwine to Morehead (about 26 miles) or via versa in about an hour and a half as opposed to taking all day by horseback, buggy or wagon. It wasn’t long before the M&NF was offering, in addition to its timber and coal traffic, regular passenger service.

Passenger service was popular but by 1926 the automobile was beginning to offer competition and the cost of pulling a passenger car with a locomotive was getting more expensive. So an Edwards M-200 railcar (self-propelled) was purchased and in the early fall of 1926 began two daily roundtrips from Morehead to Redwine. 

The rail-car was 43 feet long and seated 36 in comfort. It operated at less than half the cost of a locomotive, was quieter and averaged a slightly higher speed. It acquired the name “Blue Goose” not because of its color, erroneously thought to be blue, but the rail car, purchased new, was a bright green; rather the name came from the whistle which generated a low moan which some said sounded like a sad, or blue, goose. Below is a mid-20s photo of the M&NF “Blue Goose.” 

The anticipated increase in passenger service did not materialize however and late in the year service was cut back to one trip per day. As timber, coal and passenger service waned and the line became unprofitable, the M&NF requested in 1933 to discontinue service from Clack Mountain to Redwine, keeping the last four miles from Clack Mountain to Clearfield so clay could be hauled to the Lee Clay kilns in Clearfield. Permission was granted, and the rails were pulled. In 1934 The “Blue Goose” was sold to the California Western Railroad, a heritage railroad headquartered in Mendocino County, California where years later it still makes occasional tourist runs.