After the shocking revelation that CSX would shut down the Erwin Terminal for a host of railroad traffic on Thursday, Oct. 15, town officials took a moment to remember an individual that played a key role in the early success of the tracks.
Members of the community and the local and state governments joined at the Main Avenue intersection in town on Friday, Oct. 16, to officially name the recently built $10 million railroad overpass project by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) after the late Pat E. Brown. The overpass was finished in the summer for use, while a ribbon cutting ceremony for the overpass was held on August 10.
This is a momentous day for us, Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley said following the ceremony. There were a lot of names that were suggested to us about naming the bridge, but the Brown family, and Mr. Brown, when he was still with us, were so responsive to the needs of the town and the county. He had a good business here and ran a good economy for Erwin and it was just fitting for us to memorialize him with this bridge.
Fridays event was led in prayer by Pastor Noah Taylor of Evergreen Free Will Baptist Church, mentioning the 300 workers and their families who had jobs affected by CSXs decision on Thursday to reduce operations in town.
Mayor Hensley led the ceremony and thanked Browns family for Pat selling the land in town that would play part in the creation of the overpass along with a portion of the Erwin Linear Trail.
After comments from State Senator Rusty Crowe and Representative John Holsclaw Jr., family friend Bill Lawson represented the family and spoke of more happier times in Erwin in a moment of remembering Brown.
Lawson spoke of Browns tour in the Pacific from 1944-45, serving in the military during World War II before coming back to the states and getting a job with the Clinchfield Railroad. Lawson added that Browns economic prowess helped the town with Erwin Salvage, which was later sold to Progress Railroad, a community still going to this day.
Following the conclusion of the event, members of Browns family took part in unveiling the new sign that at the Main Avenue portion of the overpass, which stretches to Second Street, that will serve as a deterrent for the remaining amount of train traffic that will resume through town.