John Waite Stemwinder Collection
John R. Waite became interested in the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad in the early 1980s. In 1988, he established The Blue Ridge Stemwinder, a small magazine devoted to documenting the history of Southern Appalachian narrow guage railroads. A year later he organized a meeting of fellow railfans interested in the narrow gauge railroad at Boone, North Carolina. The meeting, along with the Stemwinder, were the impetus needed in the formation of the ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society.
John, along with Chris Ford, his graphics partner, produced the Stemwinder for members of the Historical Society from 1988-2007. It contained excellent stories, never-before-seen photos, detailed railroad maps, scale drawings of railroad equipment and structures, reproductions of historical railroad documents, and news about anything associated with the ET&WNC Railroad, the Historical Society and its members. In 2003, John and Chris published the highly acclaimed book The Blue Ridge Stemwinder - An Illustrated History Of The East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad And The Linville River Railway. This was John's masterwork and was the most thorough and comprehensive history of the ET&WNC Railroad ever written - the culmination of over ten years of research and writing, with almost 400 pages and over 300 photos.
John held a B.A. in History from William Jewell College in Missouri and was a former American History and Yearbook teacher, and High School Girls’ Basketball Coach. He spent the last eight years of his career as a school district Technology Coordinator. He retired from public education in 2001. John and his wife Sharon, a longtime school administrator and current Executive Director of the Show-Me Curriculum Administrators Association, lived in Jefferson City, Missouri, where John finally had the opportunity to model his beloved little railroad. John passed away after a short illness in 2012.
This collection contains PDF copies of three issues of the Stemwinder, which focus on the Shulls Mills and Boone depots of the ET&WNC, both of which were located in Watauga County.