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By Marshall McClung
The recent opening of Tapoco Lodge by the Codys brought to mind an individual from the past who was associated with Tapoco Lodge and indeed was a part of it for many years.
Eli "Trixie" Williams was a one armed black man who first came to Tapoco in 1915 to work on a railroad when the Aluminum Company of America first started construction on a series of dams and powerhouses on the Little Tennessee River. Trixie was born May 1, 1878. His parents were John and Nancy Williams.
Although there were several blacks employed in the construction of the Cheoah Dam and powerhouse, they all left when the job was completed except Trixie. He started doing odd jobs around the boarding house such as making beds, etc. The boarding house was replaced by the hotel and Trixie's duties turned into a full time job covering janitor and porter duties.
Trixie continued to work at his job until 1946 when he retired from all but the duties of a porter. He continued on as porter until 1951. Although he was officially retired, Trixie continued to live at Tapoco. He was never married and had no home to call his own.
Trixie continued to ring the dinner bell for which he had a special touch. The dinner bell is still standing on its frame at the edge of the parking lot for the Lodge. Trixie ringing the bell caught people's attention and he often posed for photographs for the guests.
Trixie was asked about his missing arm at times and would give different answers such as " I wore it off picking the banjo, lost it in the Spanish-American War, or a grasshopper bit it off."
In 1954, Trixie went to Shelby, N.C. to be near relatives due to failing health. He stayed with his niece Mrs. Joshua Roberts until his death in February 1955.
Trixie had an easy going manner and was well liked. He would be pleased to know that Tapoco Lodge is open and operating again. He would be pleased with the appearance. Although the lodge had been closed for years it has been kept in good condition and has a pleasant atmosphere about it. The sound of the nearby Cheoah River adds its touch. The food is good. Trixie would feel right at home.
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For additional information on Graham County Adventures
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This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina