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Judge Garland award presented to local author

The Unicoi County Historical Society hosted its annual Christmas Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 2.
Each December, the society holds its annual banquet to recognize the work done up to this point. The award that is presented is the Judge Walter B. Garland Award. Walter B. Garland was one of the motivating forces behind the creation of the Unicoi County Historical Society, going back to its inception in 1971. The award was started in 2006 as a form of recognition for those who have contributed to the preservation of history in Unicoi County.
The 2014 award was presented to A.J. “Alf” Peoples. Peoples is a third generation railroader who grew up in Erwin. Alf’s father, Jack, to the railroad yard and his mother took pictures of the father-son tandem aboard locomotives of the day.
In 1969, Peoples got a job with the Clinchfield Railroad and would later serve as a captain of the car marshals on the railroad excursion trains that were pulled by the iconic Clinchfield No. 1, which is now housed at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Maryland.
Peoples worked as a brakeman, crew caller, fireman and engineer for the Clinchfield and what later became CSX Transportation. Peoples was also an engineer for the famous “Santa Train” formerly run by the Clinchfield and now CSX.
Peoples retired from the railroad earlier this year. He now serves on the Board of Directors for the Unicoi County Heritage Museum and the Clinchfield Railroad Museum. He is a member of the Carolina-Clinchfield and Watauga Valley chapters of the National Railway Historical Society.
He has co-authored two successful books with former Erwin Record Publisher Mark Stevens, “The One & Only: A Pictoral History of the Clinchfield No. 1” and “The Clinchfield No. 1: Tennessee’s Legendary Steam Engine.” Back in May, Peoples and Stevens were presented with an Award of Distinction by the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Chad Bogart with “Stories and Songs of Christmas to Lighten the Heart and Lift the Spirit.” Bogart sang several tunes and told Christmas stories to the gallery following a dinner from Creekside Cafe.
Past recipients of the Judge Walter B. Garland Award are James Goforth, Hilda Padgett, William Cooper, Lou Thornberry, Mark A. Stevens, Bobby Funk, Janice Willis Barnett and Martha Erwin.
The Unicoi County Historical Society wanted to extend a special thank you to their speakers for 2014: Chris Tipton, Bill Cooper, Don Slagle, Candace St. Lawrence, Chad Bailey, George Hatcher, Richard Riggs, Lou Thornberry and Chad Bogart.