There was fog in the low places and out of the blackness overhead fell a fine, steady rain. It made little ponds of the ruts in the lonely country road. Hugged by scrub pines, vines and underbrush the road straggled for perhaps a hundred yards. Then the woods stopped abruptly and there lay the wet softly gleaming rails at Maco Station.
Maco lies fourteen miles west of Wilmington on the Wilmington-Florence-Augusta line of what is now the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. It is today much as it must have looked to Joe Baldwin more than one hundred years ago.
Joe was conductor of a train headed toward Wilmington that rainy spring night of 1867. Just fourteen miles from home his thoughts turned to his family. Would his wife be up to greet him? Even his train sounded as if it were glad to be on the home stretch. There was something comforting about the chugging noise of its wood-burning engine. For the moment Joe forgot his shower of soot and sparks which he battled daily to keep his coaches clean.
It was time now to go through the cars ahead and call out the station. He glanced proudly at his gold railroad man's watch. The hands of the watch read three minutes 'til midnight. Just about on time.