Chloe just might be the Kanawha River Railroad’s biggest fan. Chloe also happens to be a border collie/spaniel mix.
“We walk about a mile down the hill to the tracks. It gets her a pretty good walk, but she just loves trains,” said Dave Thomas, Chloe’s owner. “We usually know what time they’re coming through, so we try to get there in time. If we can hear them, but we aren’t there yet, she’ll turn around and look at me and it’s almost as if she could talk she’d say ‘Come on, old man!’ And she’s bounding down there. She beats me to it, but she’s safe. She knows not to get too close to the tracks, and she loves that whistle. Maybe she got that from me.”
Dave’s a big train fan as well. He’s been around trains his whole life and says railroading is in his blood. His dad worked as a ticketing agent on the B & O Railroad. His uncle, cousins, and plenty of other people he knew all worked on railroads at some point. Unfortunately, Dave was never able to due to high blood pressure. That setback didn’t take away his passion for trains, though. Now, he and Chloe are a daily fixture and a welcome sight to the Kanawha River Railroad (KNWA) team as they pass on the south side of Albany Hill in Albany, Ohio.
“I watch the trains for safety things too, whether you want me to or not,” laughed Dave. “We’re your eyes sometimes. When I was a kid, I’d watch the trains for my dad if he couldn’t make it out to the platform. I heard a squealing bearing one time and Mike (KNWA Conductor Mike Mullins) had said that if they squeal pretty loud, that’s a sign that they’re getting low on grease, so I let them know.”
Whether he’s watching for safety issues or he and Chloe are just saying hi as the train passes, they’ve left an impression on Mike and the KNWA crews.
“A lot of the public relationships between railroads and the people that live near those railroads are gone, though I like to try to keep them alive,” Mike said. “Dave and his dog Chloe have become such a welcomed, refreshing, and friendly sight along our railroad. I look forward to seeing him every trip up here.”
To show his appreciation, Mike ordered Dave a KNWA hat and jacket for the upcoming colder months. To his surprise, when the package arrived it came with an extra gift from Western Associates, the company that operates the Watco Store.
“I had a thought earlier this summer that I’d get him a nice winter jacket and another KNWA hat. I definitely want him to keep warm this winter if he’ll be out to see us,” Mike said. “To my surprise, Watco’s merchandise store saw my note about this being for an elderly gentleman and his dog that wave at our train. So, they included a chew-treat for Dave’s dog Chloe.”
The trains kept rolling through Dave’s town, but Mike got bumped to a different job while waiting for the order to arrive. Luckily, he recently had an opportunity for a trip on the north end of the line again and was able to get Dave his things.
“I saw them slowing down and thought something was wrong or that they were going to get on us for being down here all the time, but that wasn’t it,” Dave said. “Mike’s one heck of a good guy. I’m real appreciative and definitely surprised.”