The Mount Airy Public Library opened its Meet the Author luncheon series on Monday featuring local writer Tom Perry, who spoke about his book, “A Dinky Railroad.” Branch Librarian Pat Gwyn characterized the luncheon offerings as an adult component of the children’s summer literacy program.
Gwyn said the luncheons will be held every Monday in July at noon in the library’s multipurpose room. There is no charge for the events and registration is not required.
“We have always thought it was important to offer something for those who’re interested in books as well as those who are interested in being a writer and talking with an established writer. We feel they can benefit from sharing the experiences of established writers. These luncheons are open to everyone and we’d love for people to come by and join us.”
The next scheduled luncheon author is Sheri Haymore, who grew up in Mount Airy. She is a graduate of High Point University and her first job was as a writer for a marketing firm. She is slated to discuss her first book, “A Higher Voice” at the luncheon on July 14.
In Haymore’s book, “A Higher Voice,” central character Britt Jordan is a rock singer at the pinnacle of his career struggling with a failing voice. A chance meeting with a woman inspires the hopeless singer to create a new life. Mystery writer Jane Tesh will be featured on July 21 and historical fiction author Laura Wharton is set to be featured on July 28.
Perry’s presentation centered on he and Kenny Kirkman of Collinsville, Virginia, who teamed up to produce the book about the Mount Airy Eastern Railroad. He said he initially became interested in the project when his friend Anthony Terry uncovered a portion of the small gauge railroad’s tracks.
He said the railroad was established primarily to transport timber from Kibler Valley to Mount Airy’s furniture plants or for transport elsewhere. Perry explained the roughly nineteen and a quarter miles of the “Dinky” Railroad (an industry term referring to the smaller size of the tracks compared to the standard gauge rails) started on Riverside Drive in Mount Airy and continued to Kibler Valley from 1899 to 1916.
Perry told the group retracing the route of the Dinky Railroad took he and Kirkman, who is a railroad enthusiast, over three winters. He said the railroad also carried people, many of which were interested in “taking the waters” at White Sulphur Springs in the 1850s in the area.
He pointed out the line followed the Ararat River and other local creeks because of the necessity for the steam locomotive to have a water source.
“This book is not so much about the railroad as it is about the people along the way,” said Perry, who also talked about he and Kirkman interviewing and videotaping local residents who had ridden on the railroad. He said the Dinky had always struggled financially and was destroyed in 1916 in the wake of two consecutive tropical storms which flooded it out. He was also among a group informally called “Team Dinky” who later assembled 30 feet of the old track at The Hollow History Center in Ararat Virginia for display.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.