Trail Marker #9
E & A Wye Train Turn Around
You are standing at the location of the Elkin & Alleghany Railroad wye. A wye is a triangular-shaped arrangement of rail track with a switch or set of points at each corner. The purpose of the wye is to allow steam engines to pass from one line to another or in this case, providing a means to turn around. This is done by performing a railway equivalent of a three-point turn. The direction of the steam engine can be swapped around, leaving it facing the direction from which it came.
At this particular wye, a storage shed housed the rail’s handcar. Adventurous children would often sneak out to the car, take a turn at pumping, and move it up the railroad. However, these children would not always return the car to its rightful location. Train engineers and foremen would often come across the abandoned car up the line four to five miles away.