Tennessee Mountain Stories

First Diesel Truck 'Round Here: Part 3 of The Green Bean Phenomenon

                Big diesel engines have an allure to little boys.  It’s a fact science cannot explain.  Lifelong drivers have told me ‘diesel gets in your blood’.

                As the bean crop poured into the bean sheds, they had to be transported to the canneries in East Tennessee, West Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.  While some of the early beans were delivered to the bean shed in wagons, everything left on trucks for that final leg of the journey.  Trucks had been coming and going from the bean shed for several years when one sultry summer evening there was produce left unsold.

                Not wanting anyone to lose-out on all of their hard work, someone suggested Guy Beaty might buy them if they could only reach him.  Thankfully, the telephone was in place and Mr. Beaty promised to send his trucks to pick up the beans.

Young Rube & Fritz Beaty

Young Rube & Fritz Beaty

                Rube and Fritz Beaty were driving for their cousin and were leaving Jamestown with only partially loaded trucks.  They headed south as the workers anxiously awaited them at the bean shed.  In the quiet of the muggy evening, the rumble of those big trucks could be heard a mile away.  About a half-mile out, the pitch changed as Rube and Fritz started backing off the engine. 

                Hearts raced as the trucks covered the last few yards – men because their work was about to be rewarded and boys because they were about to see the source of that exciting noise.  The Beatys made their left-hand turn into the graveled parking lot, maneuvered a quick 180 degree turn and skillfully bumped the dock.  To the wide-eyed boys, it seemed magical.

                Today, our roads are crowded by shiny diesel rigs pulling long trailers, heavy equipment or pairs of smaller ‘pup’ trailers.  We still stare out our windows and marvel at their power.  But Rube and Fritz Beaty had rolled into the bean shed with the first diesel-powered trucks in the area.  It was the late 1950’s and it was still common to see mules working the fields of the Cumberland Plateau.  No one could imagine the transformation that transportation would see in the coming years.  That night, no one cared.  They were just thrilled to welcome the Beatys and their diesel-powered chariots saving the day – or at least the crop.