The Ritzman's Take A Trip

North Carolina Steam Engine men and families

On a lazy Sunday afternoon (July 24th). The Idol's entertained this group of North Carolina Steam Engine men and families. From left to right are: L. R. Powell, Mocksville; Ed Carrick, Denton; Elmer L. Ritzman, Enola, Pa.; Jack Smith, Winston-Salem; C. C.

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On the 20th day of July 1960 we started on a trip into North Carolina. We had two families we wished to visit. The Charles Idol family whose acquaintance we made at the Kinzer Reunion and the Rev. Walter Byers and family. Mr. Byers and I were in School together preparing for the ministry, we are both retired now.

As usual we got a late start. Our Volkswagen is equipped for sleeping but not for cooking. We eat in restaurants.

We pass through Gettysburg, an historic place, but it being near home (and having often been there) we stopped only for traffic signals.

Our next historic spot was Harpers Ferry. Never had been there. The scenery was wonderful. The old houses and places of business were most interesting.


We get on the Skyline Drive at Front Royal and continued until we arrived at Luray Caverns in Virginia. It was a most delightful treat to visit this underground marvel. I had only been in one other one before and then it was visited by boat instead of on foot and it was not nearly so large. The Stalacpipe organ was most interesting. All three of us were interested as we enjoy music.

After taking advantage of the very nice camp grounds there we journeyed the next morning to the Natural Bridge. It wasn't too far but very hot. Since we wished to visit the performance called 'The Dawn of Creation' at night it gave us an opportunity to find ourselves a State Park nearby in which to spend the night and rest ourselves a bit. We were not sorry we waited for evening to come to see the Bridge. I believe we all feel a bit closer to the Good Man by experiencing this beautiful organ music and lights.

The next day we had long and hard driving because we were anxious to arrive at our friend's home, the Charles Idol's near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We made it by supper time. Eudora (Mrs. Idol) was so certain she was going to make us feel at home, she was in the midst of preparing corn for the freezer, and told us we'd just have to help if we wanted any supper. (This part is not true because she didn't know when we were coming and although she was working on corn we helped very little and supper was 'on' in a hurry without too much assistance from us!)


Mr. Charles Idol, R. D. 3, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, asked me to preach at his church the 24th. We did and there were surprises! The congregation did not know they were to have a strange preacher. Then Charles had written to a number of Album Subscribers telling them of the event and invited them to worship with them that day. There were 30 or 40 who turned out. That was a surprise for me! The minister of the Church was a very kind man and had a fine sense of humor.


It seemed all we did was eat, sleep and visit -- but, oh, it was fun! Again the lady of the household had planned, well ahead, by baking a ham, preparing potatoes and cake on Saturday night and early Sunday morning she was able to feed all her hungry visitors after church in an outdoor setting under the trees. Our girls, Verda Jane and Marsha, enjoyed a lazy afternoon on a blanket reading and listening to the radio while the men gathered in one little corner of the yard talking steam engines and the ladies were a few yards away in a group exchanging their ideas of mutual interests.


Monday morning the Idols piloted us to the Powell home near Mocksville. Here we were taken in tow by their son, Bob. He has a wood sawing mill and makes crating material for furniture factories. That was interesting to me. I had never seen anything like it. He had about two acres of boards piled for drying. This takes three weeks. He saws and moves about that much every three weeks.

Bob has several engines but is a Frick lover and had two in very good condition a double and a single.

He took us to see an old Grist Mill run by water power. It was an interesting mill and a beautiful spot.


We were very disappointed that our friend, Rev. Mr. Byers, was feeling so ill that he and his wife were unable to travel with us to Cherokee (the largest Indian Reservation in the East). He was taken to the hospital next day and the reports are good. We saw the play, 'Unto These Hills'. It was not only enjoyable but educational. It was given in an outdoor theatre by the Cherokee Historical Association.

The trip through these great Smoky Mountains is undescribable. The scenery is simply beautiful and wonderful. We just journeyed over onto the other side of the mountain into Tenn. and then turned back. We hope that in the future we can take up where we left off and continue southward.


I want to tell you about 'Tweetsie'. A narrow gauge Railroad near Blowing Rock, North Carolina. A very interesting and pictorial Railroad and stock. A good sized engine highly painted. All the trainmen wore guns. If it had not been for the smile on their faces we would have been scared green! However, when we got a little ways on our ride we had an Indian raid and the guns saved the day! After going a little ways further we had a train robbery. Then the fire did fly! I shall not tell you more or I shall spoil your fun when you go there. By all means go!


Our last nightly fling -- but by no means the least was taken at Boone, North Carolina before turning homeward. Here, again in the out-of-doors, we saw the 'Horn in the West' depicting the drama of brave people in their tragedies and their laughs. A story of the movement Westward in America.

Elmer Then we headed home. Beauty abounded everywhere beautiful mountains beautiful fields beautiful homes. The South has it! We were tired and weary when we got home, but with memories we shall never forget.