Appalachian Curves




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Appalachian Curves

Virginia authorities had recently assisted the Federal Revenuers from the U.S. Treasury Department in breaking up a moonshine still. They put another one of their local distillers out of business. Sheriff Dan Patch knew they had a large quantity of moonshine on hand but had no idea where they were storing it. He had a few spies out searching the area for clues. Everyone was very tight-lipped about anything to do with moonshine. After the last still had been destroyed by the Revenuers, several people went missing. Dan knew they would be running low on funds, they had to move some of their shine to keep up their cash flow. They were no doubt already planning on putting up another still at a different location.

It was around midnight when the sheriff’s phone rang, the person on the other end of the line had a tip. You are not going to believe this, they store moonshine right here in town, at a local gas station. There is a tank out back for keeping the moonshine. The word is out, about a couple new young fellows making a run tonight about 2 AM, full moon. It will be really bright, they’ll be planning on running all the way to Tennessee with no headlights on. Trouble is, we have no idea what road through the Appalachians they will use. I imagine it will be the main highway if they meet a car they can just turn lights on. Sheriff “thanks, you will be rewarded for your work.” He would be rewarded, “that is if he didn’t disappear somewhere out in the woods coon hunting.”

The sheriff and his deputy were waiting in the squad car, in town behind some bushes, well off the road. No one would see them, at about 1 AM they heard a car approaching on its way out of town. The moon was bright enough to see the car a mile down the road. They started following it, but to their surprise, it did not take the main highway.

Dan commented to his deputy, I don’t believe they will take the back road all the way to Tennessee. There are so many curves on that road, can’t imagine being desperate enough to take that route. I’ve heard they have a hundred gallon moonshine tank in the trunk. That old Hot Rod Lincoln will be awful hard to handle when we start the chase. This will be a fun night, ‘I do have a feeling commented  his deputy.’

I do not expect them to just pull over and have a chat with us, they will have the pedal to the metal on that old Lincoln, they will have the ride of their lives. The sheriff started closing in on the Lincoln as it came to the first curve, the Lincoln took off like it was rocket propelled. It made the first curve fine and started pulling away. On the next two curves, a lot of gravel was flying off their tires. They got way out on the shoulder, there were no guard rails on this crooked mountain road. If you left the road, “You did some up close sightseeing in the canyon.”

The Hot Rod Lincoln kept picking up speed. Sheriff Dan felt they were going to get away, a couple greenhorns had beat him. Then the unexpected happened. With their low budget money, the moonshine boys cut back in the worst possible place, tires. They put recap tires on the back of that heavy old Lincoln, one of those recaps started coming apart, rubber was flying all over the place. Sheriff commented, ‘I do believe our boys are in big trouble now.’ There is no way they can make the curve at the bottom of this hill. They were doing about 90 miles an hour when the Lincoln left the road.

Well, deputy, we didn’t catch our moonshine runners but I do believe the boys made it all the way to Tennessee. Parts of them are scattered all over down there, somewhere at the bottom is a tank of moonshine, never heard it explode. We will have to go down that mountain and drain it out on the ground. I can’t trust anyone else to do it. There might be a few wily coyotes acting strange for a while. We better call for a wrecker and ambulance to pick up the body parts, what a mess for somebody to clean

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious way.

Unsafe On 18 Wheels

Dec 21, 2015
Safety First
Share the story of a time you felt unsafe.

Mountain road.jpg
I drove truck cross-country for many years, we pulled 40 foot refrigerated trailers from Sioux Falls South Dakota loaded with meat. We delivered the meat to Tucson and Phoenix Arizona one week, possibly the next week it was a straight load of hams or sow bellies going to Los Angeles to John Morrels smoke house. I felt unsafe a few times in Los Angeles traffic, everyone travelling 70 MPH in dense fog. You can’t just pull over until they go past.

We always hauled produce back, you loaded produce all along the West Coast. It might be vegetables, fruit, mixed loads of this and that but usually by the time you got loaded you were up near San Francisco. So you came back through Sacramento, the northern way through the mountains.You take the interstate from Sacramento going up over Donner Pass, through Reno and back through Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, and back to Minnesota and South Dakota where you would unload your eastbound load. We usually checked tires before starting any long downgrade. Donner Summit was a place for that. I blew out a new front tire once just as I started a down grade, so I got stopped quick. Didn’t feel unsafe until I thought about it later, it could have blown half way down.

You learn one thing in mountain driving when your on a long downhill grade such as the Grapevine between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. You always try to keep your speed at maybe 10-15 MPH and just two or three pounds of pressure constantly on your brakes as you come down. You could drive down the longest mountain in the world this way without overheating your brakes. We were always very conscious of watching those brake pressures. Every time you made the trip somebody would come past you at warp speed, smoke and fire pouring off all their brakes. They started down too fast, got excited and started pumping them, when they came down. They always had a few highway patrolman, every light flashing guiding them in and out of traffic, so they wouldn’t run right over a car. I must admit there were times I felt unsafe coming down the Grapevine.

We had a load one time that called for taking some back roads through Arizona on a old two-lane highway that was full of switchbacks. I believe it was called Yarnell Hill “some hill.” You always felt unsafe on that road. With a 40 foot trailer behind, you could almost see your license plates on the back of the trailer, going around a curve.’almost’ Some switch backs were so sharp you almost had to come to a stop as you made the turn. This one stretch of highway had a runaway ramp in case you lost your brakes. A runaway ramp was a long area cut out into the next mountain and it was filled with deep blow sand. The whole idea was a truck losing its brakes would take that runaway ramp and it would plow into that soft sand, only going so far before the truck bogged down and was stuck in the sand, this was a great idea and it worked well.

We always checked our brake lines being conscious of properly working brakes. When talking about feeling unsafe the only time I didn’t feel safe is coming down Yarnell Hill. Something failed in my brakes one trip, I must have been going 70 or 80 miles an hour when I got to the runaway ramp. I wasn’t sinking into the damn sand! There had been freezing rain and that sand was frozen over on top I was headed straight toward a rock wall probably at 60 miles an hour not slowing down a bit. That solid rock wall kept getting bigger, and it was getting closer and closer. Finally that big old heavy truck broke through the frozen sand and I sunk down and stopped just short of slamming into a solid rock wall. My radiator was almost touching the wall. Any clogged heart valves got immediate relief. I will have to admit that is one time when I really felt unsafe.