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Tuesday October 24th 2017Tim Candler9

 

     OK chaps, Saint Barbara! What is it, where is it, why is it? All very good questions, some answers to which will of course be lost to time and a degenerating memory. Other answers will be far too crack-pot to even begin to take seriously. So, while there is a possibility that in due course your N scale enthusiast might remember where the name Saint Barbara came from, probably better to try to recall why on earth the County has a very, very difficult to clean and incredible awkward railway cutting called, The Said Tunnel. Years and years ago, when things like carbon emissions, belching chimneys and unnecessarily loud noises were given the title progress the youngest son of a Sultan of Oman chose to forsake his duties as royal thorn in the underbelly of Expanding Foreign Empires so that he and his entourage could engage in very important things like eating different kinds of picnic lunches and collecting fossils. He'd heard through the fossil collecting grapevine, that one of the hallmarks of progress was earth moving, reshaping the land and whole bunch of activities that often dragged extraordinarily rare fossils out of the earth. Nor was the Sultan, his father, that interested in doing anything as radical as sending teams of laborers into Omani territories to do anything that even sounded like progress. And it's also the case that just like today, the world back then was full of shady characters many of whom had a strong understanding of how profit and political advantage could be had from the more gullible by setting grapevines on fire with innuendo and down right lies.

 

Past

     Meanwhile, a small, less hardy group of pioneering types had lost their enthusiasm for this whole bossy-boots and cowboy hat  organized effort of "go west young man" and they'd settled for life in a pretty if somewhat rocky, middle of nowhere, isolated, part of the Eastern Appalachians where they fully intended to do all kinds of stuff without being bogged down by rules, regulations and peer pressure. It was like Eden in those early days, everyone was happy, there was good fishing, a couple of cows, barn dances in the evenings, poetry readings, all kinds of beverages, pot-luck lunches, hand crafts, it was the whole heaven on earth thing. And then on a brisk winter morning, as if out of nowhere, a man with a briefcase and technical looking devices appeared and he started taking notes. Turned out he'd been sent by what in the old days was given the title Industrial Magnet, none of this insipid modern day spotty faced, tee-shirt wearing through geriatric billionaire nonsense, who wanted to build a railway line. One of the potential major investors in the railway line project was the Sultan of Oman who was looking to move his dwindling wealth out of slave trading and into something more progress related. The Sultan really had far too many enemies to leave his gated community, so in order to get a reliable sense of what a railway line was, what it did, how it might behave, he directed his youngest and least important son to "Go seartheth thou the railway in Eastern Appalachia, and reporteth back." Or words to that effect. It took a while for young Saeed bin Saeed, who was quite used to being cursed out by his father, to realize that Eastern Appalachia, however dreadful it sounded, was actual a place that engaged in progress, and the old man was serious.

 

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