Wobble, Bobble, Turnover And Stop


A Thread on Railspot on Waco, Beaumont, Trinity, And Sabine Railroad in June provided numerous insights into my favorite railroad of bygone era.


Bob Smith Wrote:

>At 09:59 PM 5/9/02 -0500, you wrote:
> >
> >Taking FM356 from Trinity to Onalaska, Tx I stopped at a RV resort on
> >Lake Livingston. I mentioned I had heard of an old railroad under the
> >lake to the owners. They knew all about it. One of their parents rode
> >the train from Livingston to Trinity many years ago. Better yet seems
> >the old right of way cut right thru their little peninsula. So thanks to
> >their graciousness I was able to follow it behind the campers to a point
> >where it crossed what was once a creek. The pilings were still there
> >from a bridge, cool. It was my favorite Texas Railroad the Wobble,
> >Bobble, Turnover and Stop!! That is what the natives called it too.

Bob Smith Wrote 5-10-02

From: bulletbob53@webtv.net
>To: jpg22@cox-internet.com
>CC: railspot@yahoogroups.com (Railspot)
>Subject: Re: RS: Wobble, Bobble, Turnover, and Stop
>Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 08:24:43 -0500 (CDT)
>The Handbook Of Texas states that the WBT&S purchased 66 miles of track
>from Trinity to Colmesneil in 1924 from the MKT of Texas. Made the
>system about 114 miles. Apparently even though owner wanted to and had
>ICC approval to extend to Waco and Beaumont, it was never done.
>At church last night I was sharing my discoveries and found one of the
>member's fathers worked on the WBT&S out of Trinity (And later the MOPAC
>on the Houston - Huntsville Turn) and as a child he had rode the caboose
>and engines from Trinity East with his dad. Apparently to Wobble, Bobble
>, Turnover and Stop was an accurate assessment of the railroads
>condition as he had vivid recollection of a accident where his father's
>caboose was only thing to remain upright and when his dad got to
>locomotive which had turned over down an embankment, the crew had been
>scalded to death. Apparently he saw the last Wobble locomotive is at the
Galveston Museum some years back.

Bob Smith


Wes Carr Contributed:
In a recent Railspot digest, Jimmy Barlow wrote:
" I think Beebe and Clegg may have also included the WBTS moniker in their Mixed Train Daily, which I also don't have."

I hope I'm not too late to jump in on this thread...

I have a copy of _Mixed Train Daily_ and Beebe does not mention the WBTS moniker. Beebe did not cover the railroad as thoroughly as he covered many other lines, although he did mention it on numerous pages, and a couple of photographs were included. In a chapter on shortline railroads in Arkansas and in the south, Beebe writes:

"On the Angelina and Neches River the first section of the morning train from Prosser to Chireno is a rail motorcar, while in the second section belated or left-over voyagers can ride the caboose, and the Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine maintains only what is known as "irregular" passenger service through the rich East Texas dairy-farming regions in oversize combination caboose-coaches which might properly become permanent exhibits in the Smithsonian except that it is doubtful if they could survive the overland trip to Washington."
Classic Beebe!

From: Howard Bingham
>To: bulletbob53@webtv.net
>Subject: Re: RS: Wobble, Bobble, Turnover, and Stop

>Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 00:05:26 -0500

>Back in the late 70's I was buying a lot on the northern side of the lake &
>the real estate developer took me to the remnants of a former station on the
>line.. (I doubt it is still there, as the structure was in bad shape then &
>is likely long gone.)..
>Howard Bingham

From: Jim King

To: Railspot
Subject: Re: RS: Wobble, Bobble, Turnover, and Stop
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 00:15:39 -0500

The WBT&S junction with the I-GN at Trinity is still there.

The diamond is gone, but some heavily overgrown connecting tracks are still in place
for a short distance running southeast from the UP main. This is on the south side of downtown Trinity. Coming from Onalaska, the WBT&S crossed the I-GN in Trinity, then curved north and paralleled it through town before angling off to the northwest along the west side of the main highway for some distance.

The east end of this line was the Katy "Orphan Branch" for awhile. At the site where it terminated at the T&NO in Colmsneil, the Katy Baptist Church still operates.

Jim King

Don Harper Contributed

Donald E. Harper, Jr"
To: Railspot
Subject: Re: RS: Wobble, Bobble, Turnover, and Stop
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 13:56:27 -0500

WBTS #1, a 2-6-2 Prairie class engine, is indeed at the Museum. I don't
know if it was the last or not, though.

Don Harper
Texas A&M Marine Lab
5007 Avenue U
Galveston, TX 77551

Jimmy Barlow Contributed

Wobble Bobble...
Wobbly Bobbly...
Wobblety Bobblety...
Which is correct? Well, let's ask the "experts."
Trains magazine (April 2001, p. 90) says Wobbly Bobbly--withOUT the Turnover and Stop. BTW, the Trains piece has a great picture of the line's passenger "equipment" taken by none other than Dr. Bob Richardson of Colorado RR Museum fame, who also supplied the rr's nickname to the magazine.
The Handbook of Texas Online says Wobble, Bobble. The article was edited by noted Texas rail historian George C. Werner.
Maxwell and Baker's Sawdust Empire, which relied heavily on local interviews, says Wobblety-Bobblety, both with and without Turnover and Stop (p. 42). This book also says that sawmills were so closely spaced along the WBTS that its engineers said they were never out of the sound of a millwhistle as they traversed the line. (This was probably true only before the Great Depression closed lots of mills.)
Not having Reed's book (yet), I don't know what he said. I think Beebe and Clegg may have also included the WBTS moniker in their Mixed Train Daily, which I also don't have.
So it appears that either of the three forms of the nickname are correct. It was, after all, an informality.
With due respect to the Handbook and Mr. Werner, I had never heard Wobble, Bobble until 5 or 6 years ago when I myself used it in an as yet unpublished story. The first time I heard the company's nickname, probably in my late teens, was verbally from the late James A. "Uncle Jim" Black of Evadale (he was everybody's "uncle"). Born in 1899, he had been raised in the woods and sawmills of southeast Texas and southwest La, and was quite familiar with the tram roads and railroads of that area during the early 20th century. He lived several years at Browndell, but must have lived in Evadale quite awhile as his address was P.O. Box 1! He said Wobblety Bobblety, kinda slow and deliberately. But as I was writing my story mucho years later, I disliked the part-adjective, part-verb nickname I had heard in my youth and created the all-verb Wobble Bobble. Since the name wasn't official, I had the right to do so, I reasoned. Others have apparently done likewise.
I have since changed my mind. Whether I like it or not, when I perpetuate the nickname I perpetuate history, especially if I use the phrase, "The line WAS KNOWN AS..." (which is how you usually see it). Since the line is extinct, I feel I shouldn't say anything that might change the perception of that history. And I'm convinced that most people who lived along the line said Wobblety Bobblety or Wobbly Bobbly (it's quite conceivable that not everyone said exactly the same thing). So if my story ever makes it into print, it will be with the name I heard first and foremost: Wobblety, Bobblety, Turnover and Stop.

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