The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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John P. Wilson - Station Agent, Tip Top, Virginia

By John P. Wilson
Preserved By Sue Collins © 1990

Issue: March, 1990

John P. Wilson, Station Agent, Tip Top, Virginia, 1920.John P. Wilson, Station Agent, Tip Top, Virginia, 1920.The following is a letter printed in the Norfolk and Western Magazine, December, 1927. It was written by John P. Wilson, who was the station agent in Tip Top, Virginia (Tazwell County) and retired to live there. He was born August 8, 1853, retired August 8, 1923 on his 70th birthday and died July 29, 1938 at the age of 84. He began working for Norfolk and Western Railroad when he was 28 years old at Monvale, Virginia, where John N. Wells taught him telegraphy. In 1906 he worked at Coeburn or Toms Creek, Virginia. Our thanks to his granddaughter, Sue Collins of Roanoke, Virginia, who submitted it. The BACKROAD tour in the December, 1989 Mountain Laurel went through Tip Top.

As an old retired veteran of the Norfolk & Western Railway, I have thought for some time I would give you a little write up of our town and village but being no expert at such business I have hesitated, hoping to see the place represented by some of your more accomplished writers. But up to this date I have failed to see any notice given whatever and for fear we might be overlooked and forgotten entirely I submit a partial write-up of our little town, Tip Top, Virginia.

We enjoy an altitude of between 2,800 and 3,000 feet which gives us a most enjoyable summer season, both bracing and invigorating. No night so sultry but what we have to sleep under a cover of substantial weight and can rise in the morning feeling perfectly rested and in fine spirits for another day's work. Such a blessing is worthy to be coveted by the residents of a warmer country for I have tried both and I know the difference.

We have fine mineral water near to us and while the springs have failed to open up for a year or two, yet people come to the springs every year and take up light housekeeping and spend the summer months in this remote, quiet resort invigorating and building up their health for another season of winter work. In general, Tip Top and community have a hospitable, kind and generous class of people.

A View of Tip Top, Virginia as seen from railroad, taken circa 1930. The Wilson house is in the center of the photograph.A View of Tip Top, Virginia as seen from railroad, taken circa 1930. The Wilson house is in the center of the photograph.We will now take notice of our railroad service as rendered at Tip Top. Our esteemed agent, W. R. Witt, as mediator between the public and corporation, seems to be entirely satisfactory to both sides and renders a high efficient and impartial service to all with whom he has to deal. He is a good moral and Christian gentleman of high aspirations. We hope we can keep him indefinitely. He also has a very interesting family (a wife and four children) of which the wife is a great worker for the moral and spiritual uplift of the community, a commendable disposition, reverenced by nearly all persons and the husband joins hand in hand with her work as far as he is able to do so. We will not forget to mention our second trick man, F. L. Hoops, who commenced his service with the company in August of 1924, and so far as we can see or know a model young man. We speak for him a happy and prosperous life.

We now come to our very commendable and efficient section foreman, J. C. Johnson, with his force of laborers. Mr. Johnson has been at Tip Top since March 4, 1912, and since I have been here I have never heard a complaint against him either from the company or the public. Both himself and family are indeed very acceptable citizens and worthy of a most prosperous and happy life.

Mr. Johnson also has a most commendable and efficient force of laborers, that I do not believe can be excelled by any on the line or road. Always on hand at toll call and ready to go out and perform their duties as presented to them in the most honorable way to promote peace, comfort and satisfaction to themselves and families and all with whom they have to do. We are all rejoicing in the latest improvement the company has made to their line of road - the new automatic signals are a most gratifying experience.

I will say as an old man I am feeling fairly well. Keep going and able to knock my allowance at the dining table. This should represent my general condition. Hope it may be your pleasure to find space for this poorly written contribution and if I should come again will try to improve.