Your most memorable railroader

Rule 281 Oct 11, 2001

  1. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    At one time or another, all of us have encountered a railroader who left a lasting impression, either good or bad. For lots of us in the 'business', it was the first engineer you rode with or the conductor who took you under his wing on your first day for pay. For those who man the cameras or wave as we pass, maybe it was an agent who showed you around or a yardmaster who let you sit in while he worked his trick or a train crew that took you for a spin. Or maybe it was the police officer who chased you off the property or the guy who blistered your ears when you took his picture.
    Leave out the names if it's appropriate but tell us about someone (or group of someones) that comes to mind whenever you think about the railroad. We've heard 'Tales From the Cab', now fill the cabs with people. Wanna go first Watash? :cool:
     
  2. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    OK, the first one that ALWAYS comes to mind was a guy as big as my dad that reached down and hauled me up into the cab of his engine one day at the roundhouse at Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had a black mustache and a red handkerchief around his neck. He introduced dad and me to the Fireman, and they showed us everything on the backhead. I got to see into the firebox, and nearly wet my pants when the Fireman started the stoker! I remember it sounded like the end of the world, louder and faster than thunder, but then I was just eight years old too. The Engineer (Hostler) had me stand in front of him, and told me to pull back on that big long lever (Throttle) but I couldn't move it. He showed me how to grip it to release the set-ratchet teeth. He said to pull it back about a foot, wait half a second then shove it all the way foreward. He said that was to fill the steam chest, then I was to pull it back only a couple or three notches and wait for it to start moving. I did as told, and there was a loud CHUFF, then another! He told my dad he was going to let me run the engine down to the coaling tower (about a 1/4 mile)! Dad said OK. He set the Johnson Bar, and told me to take her down to the tower, so I got to run us down there! When we got moving, he sat me up on his lap and let me lean out the window. As we started getting close, he had me pull the whistle cord one short toot to alert anyone down there that we were coming. That whistle was some LOUD, a sort of low sorrowful moan. Then he had me get down and stand in the isleway with dad, while he lined up the tender to fill with coal. As soon as we stopped, he had the Fireman let us out on that side and take us across the tracks so we wouldn't get covered up in coal dust. I looked back and they both waved out the Fireman's side of that brand new shiney Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy #4002, the first one I had ever seen! There were three of them scattered among the Challengers which we had seen the year before. No, I don't remember his name, but I would know him anywhere, and will never forget that day and how much I loved my dad for taking me all the way up there to see the new engines! I miss times like that with my dad most of all!

    [ 12 October 2001: Message edited by: watash ]</p>
     
  3. fitz

    fitz TrainBoard Member

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    Watash left out this photo of himself and all the rest of the crew on UP4002. My favorite old hogger was "Molly" Long who hogged for the New York Central, lived across the street, and always shared his "Railroad" magazines with me, a little shaver. [​IMG]
     
  4. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What a great photograph it really shows what monsters these locomotives were compared to the crew :D . Thanks fitz keep them coming
     
  5. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Thanks Oodles and Gobs Fitz, that is exactly how I remember it! That is why I never "weather" my engines. Most I was close to were fresh out of the shop with all new shiney paint. This must have been taken about the time we up there. The guy on the left could very well be the hostler signing the engine over to the road Hog. I would go back to those days in a heart beat! Thanks again!
     
  6. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

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    My most memorable Model railroader would have to be my dad, and the Little Golden Books "Tootle" and "Pano the Train."
     
  7. braska

    braska TrainBoard Member

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    Me I'm my most favorite railroader lol :D
     
  8. Johnny Trains

    Johnny Trains Passed away April 29, 2004 In Memoriam

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    Wow.
    There are so many mostly one time encounters with engineers, brakemen and others who invited me into an engine or some other facility.
    Here's a few experiences I remember:

    GROWING UP BY THE NEW YORK CENTRAL YARD ON THE UPPER WESTSIDE OF MANHATTAN AND GOING FOR COKES IN THE RR YMCA UNDER THE WESTSIDE HIGHWAY. I'D BE FASCINATED BY THE OLD RR GUYS WORKING AROUND THE YARD OR RUNNING THE LITTLE OLD DIESEL SWITCHERS AROUND. SOMETIMES THEY WOULD TALK TO US AT THE Y.

    THE PENN CENTRAL COP WHO ESCORTED MY FRIEND PETE AND I OUT OF THE YARD IN HIS CAR. (WE WERE ABOUT 15 THEN). THERE WAS SNOW ON THE GROUND AND HE NEARLY SKIDDED US INTO THE HUDSON RIVER.

    WALTER, THE CONDUCTOR ON NJT WHO WAS AN OLD ERIE MAN HIMSELF. HE TOOK ME INTO THE NOW GONE SWITCH TOWER AT HOBOKEN. THEN TOOK ME UPSTAIRS INTO THE TERMINAL TO VISIT SOME OFFICES. A GREAT PLACE!

    ANOTHER MAN WHOSE NAME I DON'T REMEMBER THAT TOOK MY BUDDY AND I INTO THE "PATH" TRAIN OPERATION ROOM. WE HAD BEEN SHOOTING PICS AT HARRISON. HE MUST HAVE SEEN US ON THE CAMERAS AND CAME TO CHECK US OUT. A NICE MAN!

    THE TOWERMAN WHO INVITED ME INTO THE TOWER ON ONE QUIET GOOD FRIDAY, AT MARION, OHIO. THE TOWER IS GONE AND I IMAGINE HE HAS LONG SINCE RETIRED.

    THE GRAND TRUNK WESTERN FREIGHT CONDUCTOR WHO INVITED ME INTO THE CAB AND GAVE ME A LANTERN AFTER I CHASED HIS WEED SPRAYING TRAIN FROM QUINCY TO SPRINGFIELD, OHIO. WE EXCHANGED HAT PINS TOO.
    THEY WERE GOING BACKWARDS TOO!

    THE GTW TRACK CREW WHO GAVE ME A RIDE OVER THE TRESTLE AT QUINCY. ON THE ROOF OF ONE OF THE MACHINES! WOW! IT WAS RAINING TOO!

    THE CONDUCTORS OF THE BLACK RIVER AND WESTERN RR IN FLEMINGTON, NJ, THE INDIANA AND OHIO AT LEBANON, OHIO, AND ALSO WATERVILLE OHIO ON THE TOLEDO, LAKE ERIE AND WESTERN WHO GAVE ME CAB RIDES!

    THE CSX BRAKEMAN IN OHIO (NO TOWN THANK YOU!) WHO TOLD ME TO JUMP UP INTO THE CAB WHILE THEY DID SOME SWITCHING AT A SIDING. (LAST YEAR).

    TO ALL THE VOLUNTERS OF THE MANY MUSEUMS, RR RIDES, HISTORIC RR SITES, TROLLEY MUSEUMS AND ALL THE OTHER RR RELATED PLACES I'VE BEEN TO IN 12 OR SO OF OUR WONDERFUL STATES.

    TO THE FOUNDERS AND KEEPERS OF THE NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT MUSEUM. IT GETS BETTER EACH YEAR!
    (THEY DO SO MUCH FOR CHILDREN TOO. GOD BLESS).

    TO THE TWO GENTLEMEN WHO OPENED UP THEIR RR CLUBS JUST FOR ME WHILE I WAS BUFFING AT MARION, AND SIDNEY, OHIO.

    AND A VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO MY FATHER-IN-LAW, FOR HIS WONDERFUL STORIES OF SEEING THE FIRST A1A BERKSHIRE COME INTO WELLESLEY, MA. WHEN HE WAS A KID.
    AND FOR ALL HIS GREAT WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE OF STEAM ENGINES AND TRAINS IN GENERAL.
    HE WAS A GREAT MAN.

    AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST.........
    MY COUSIN-IN-LAW PETE. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY MODEL RR MENTOR. A GREAT MODELER IN O SCALE.
    I COULD NEVER WALK IN HIS SHOES.

    IF I'VE FORGOTTEN ANYONE, I SHALL THINK OF YOU ONE DAY AND IT WILL MAKE ME SMILE!

    [​IMG]

    JOHN
     
  9. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

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    I am almost reluctant to post this because I have talked about my grandfather a lot in other forums here in Trainboard. But if you can imagine vacationing in the Canadian Rockies every summer as a kid, and having your grandfather be the engineer on the CN Super Continental passenger train (the pre-current VIA) in Jasper Alberta, then you can imagine how much of a hero he was to me. This would have been in the 50's to mid-60's. He took the train from Jasper to Edison and back in one day, then had the next day off. So every morning in the summer, I would walk down to the station, watch him sign in, then climb up into the (usually F7) unit, and wait until he left. I would waive good bye, then meet the train in the evening when he came back.

    I can remember rides on the turntable in Jasper. Rides to Edson and back. I can remember as a very young child, crying because it felt like the engine might fall off the mountain into a deep ravine, as it rounded a tight bend (much to the embarrasement of my grandfather). I can remember seeing just about the first ditch lights coming into service on the Super Continental and thinking they were ugly (the were ugly - the originals where attached to a triangle made out of 2 by 4's).

    I can remember him hitting a cabose left out on the tracks and rushing down to make sure he was okay. But he was a humble man, and I didn't learn until 30 years latter, what status it was in Jasper in those days, to be the "lead" engineer of the prime passenger service of CN.

    Needless to say, passenger service is still my favourite railfan and modeling choice. And my interest in modeling and railfanning is a tribute to him.
     
  10. dmurphy

    dmurphy TrainBoard Member

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    Mr. Becker, ticket agent at the ex-C&NW, now UP Metra passenger station in Crystal Lake, IL, is the friendliest railroad man I have met. He's made a point to know my name and greet me when I show up to purchase a ticket or shoot the infrequent UP freights that come through. He's the one that told me I could shoot pictures of the small UP yard legally from the adjacent Metra parking lot.

    Doug Murphy
     
  11. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    Since I started this, I'd better get my 2 cents in. The guy I think of first when I think of the RR is an ex-Lehigh conductor who took a couple of hours out one day to sit down and chat with me about all the pros and cons of working as a railroader. I was stuck in a rut trying to decide if I should leave my job and start all over again in a profession I knew nothing about or sit tight and let the interview go. He was the only one I'd met who told it like it was, the good and the bad, no nonsense, just facts. It was better to hear from a career man, instead of an official or a recruiter what it was probably going to be like in the real world and in most respects, he was pretty close to getting it right. I wound up taking the interview and hiring out and he turned out to be a great help again as I fumbled my way through engineer school and On-the-job training. I think he kept me from quitting about twice a week for a while when none of it seemed to make any sense and it seemed like I'd never get through it. After I got out on my own, I was lucky enough to be able to hold as his engineer for a few months on his regular job. I don't know if or when we'll be able to work together again but we still know where to find a good breakfast and get together to shoot the breeze once in a while. Thanks DC! :D :D :D
     
  12. trainbooks@hotmail.com

    trainbooks@hotmail.com TrainBoard Member

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    We haven't posted any good "sore head" stories, yet, so here goes:
    When I hired out on the Frisco at OKC, the first question everyone asked me was, "have you met John Smith?" (not his real name). And when I said "no" their reply would always be, "watch out!" Deep down (very deep, I guess) John was a tender guy, but his gruff exterior came to the forefront most of the time. The crew callers said that when they called him for a job and his wife answered the phone her reply was usually, "thank GOD". I never believed that, because he was always getting a bad rap. A typical call to me for a job would be, "train 30 at 11:00pm, or Fletcher turn at 9:00pm. However, when John was conductor it would always be, "train 30 at 11:00pm with John Smith!" No other conductor was accompanied with a warning like John.
    I spent alot of time with John on the road because the other brakeman could sharp shoot the call board and effectively avoid him. There was a long stretch (it seemed long) when I was catching his jobs with every call. Again, I say he was a tender man wrapped in a hydrogen bomb. As we rolled along in the caboose he would pull out a lunch and ask me why in the @#&d*& I didn't bring something to eat? But after the flames went out he would offer me part of what he brought. One extremely dark night we were eastbound taking siding, and the engineer of the opposing train radioed me asking if I would drop off and line up behind so his crew wouldn't have to slow down and throw the switch (they had a tonnage train, and wanted to get a good run at the upcoming hill). John was on the head end of our train that night. I got out on the caboose platform and searched my best for that switch stand, but somehow, I never sensed where it was. Finally I realized it was way behind me and I had botched the whole assignment. I radioed the other train and told them they would have a switch "wrong" in front of them. There was no reply from any crew. When we got to Tulsa, I received a better-than-average cuss fit from John that set the mood for several hours. However, he later mumbled something about how a good railroader would have dropped a fusee from the head end at the switch in question, so I could have found it easier. See...he was a nice guy somewhere inside.
    John was often overhearing people remark that they needed something, and John would have it with him the next time they met, and give it to them (along with a speech that could peel paint).
    I don't want to be known as a person who talks bad behind peoples' backs, so I have tried to show a good side of "John" that alot of people didn't comment on. There were actually scores of railroad men and women on the Frisco in OKC who were very memorable, and have their funny stories, as well. But without exception, nobody left an impression on that seniority district like Jim Sanders. I want to be recorded as saying he was alright with me, and the memories of those days are starting to fade in my mind, except for the trips with Jim...they are still vivid. He is surely retired by now, and I hope he is resting comfortably.

    [ 03 November 2001: Message edited by: trainbooks@hotmail.com ]</p>
     
  13. rush2ny

    rush2ny TrainBoard Member

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    My grandfather - who instantly turned into a kid at the site of any train and was sure that his favorite little engineer (me ;) ) was with him to share all the enthusiasm.

    [​IMG]

    Russ
    Hoffman Valley RR N-Scale
    [​IMG]
     

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