October 11, 2001 - Old Hickory Railroad

   What captures the imagination -- or the wanderlust -- better that the whistle of a steam locomotive?  The sound has all but vanished from the American landscape, but folks around Jackson, Louisiana, hear it all the time.  "Tumey's Travels" takes us down the track on the "Old Hickory Railroad."  Named after the man that the town was named after -- it meanders through six miles of scenery in and around Jackson, Louisiana.  Engineer Earl Smith tells me, "This is the toy train that I never had as a boy.  It just got bigger as I got older -- and somebody else is paying the bills."  Smith says the locomotive talks to him.  He knows when she's feeling good -- or not.  T.W. Prewitt is the conductor.  He talks to the passengers.  And they come from far and near.  "They were all pleased with it and pleased that they could ride an old steam engine.  It's hard to find a railroad that's still in operation", says Prewitt.  It's really a replica of an 1860s era train.  But even the reproduction is a genuine antique.  They haven't built these things for 50 years.  But it plays the music of history -- the lonesome sound of the steam whistle.  The Old Hickory departs every Saturday and Sunday at 3:00, weather permitting.  The fare is $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for kids.  Special excursions are available.