In fact, according to his Papaw Bobby Goins, little Luke Goins always has his ears tuned for the sound of a train horn.
Luke is the official conductor of the Bank of Cleveland’s annual Christmas train holiday display, which was first set up in the lobby of the bank in 1991.
On Friday, MainStreet Cleveland officials cancelled the annual Downtown Cleveland tree lighting and other events due to heavy rain, but Luke still made his annual trek to the Bank of Cleveland to throw the switch on the scale-model train that the late Bobby Taylor proudly displayed for years prior to his death, and Taylor’s son, Scott, now oversees.
Bobby Taylor passed away in 2010.
Bobby Goins said he and Luke got a surprise a couple of weeks ago when they heard an unfamiliar, but historical call sign on the rails in Bradley County.
“It was a whistle, not a horn,” Bobby described.
The recently restored Southern Railway Locomotive 630 passed through Charleston and Cleveland.
According to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum description of the steam locomotive, it was placed in service in 1904 and taken out of service with Southern Railway in 1952.
The locomotive was sold to another rail company and used to haul freight until 1967, when Southern Railway took possession once again. It was a passenger excursion locomotive from 1968-1972, and then leased to TVRM.
In 1990, the 630 was taken out of service until 1999 when Southern Railway donated the historic locomotive.
In 2000, restoration began and in 2011, the 630 was placed back into service.
Luke was just 4 years old when he was named as the “official conductor” for the Bank of Cleveland train.
Family members and friends gathered at the bank Friday to see the 6-year-old Prospect Elementary first-grader start off the Christmas season display.
Colby Goins said his son has a collection of his own scale-model trains at home and attributes Luke’s hobby to Bobby’s doing. Bobby described taking Luke to the bank when he was very small, just to look at the train display.
Bobby was also known for telling the story of how he and Luke would sometimes go to the Cleveland Depot to sit and watch the trains and rail workers in action.
“We named Luke as conductor two years ago,” said Scott Taylor.
With fascination and a sparkle in his eyes, Luke set the Christmas train in motion … then recognized something wasn’t correct.
He had spotted the caboose, which had inadvertently been placed backward on the track.
Luke abruptly stopped the train and Taylor helped him fix the directional error, so it’s apparent Luke studies trains and how they are supposed to be set up.
On hand for the startup were his grandmother Vicki Goins, mother Emily Goins, Judge Daniel Swafford, attorney Bill Brown, other family and friends and bank employees.
“We look forward to watching Luke grow up and start our train each coming Christmas season,” Taylor said.