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Nostalgia & History > The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS


Date: 03/31/10 08:39
The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: JoCoLB

The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad had a major importance to the town of Herington, KS. For 93 years, the Rock Island line was the largest employer in the town, which presently has a population of 2,600 but had as many as 4,000-plus residents in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

When the Rock Island officially folded as an operating railroad on March 31, 1980, it was a sad, sad day in the Herington community. At that point, the railroad had about 250 employees. About 200 jobs were tied to train operations, but another 50 jobs were at the old R.I. roundhouse where track maintenance equipment was repaired or received major servicing. Beginning April 1, 1980, there were 250 households in the Herington community who had wage earners without jobs. It was a scary time for those folks, many of whom wound up moving away to find work elsewhere. The railroad shutdown also meant the eventual demise of several businesses in Herington, due to the severe downturn in the local economy.

Some railroad employment eventually returned to Herington with the St. Louis Southwestern Railway taking over the Golden State Route and the startup Oklahoma-Kansas-Texas Railroad taking over former R.I. train operations from Salina, KS, south through Wichita into Oklahoma and Texas. Later coming to town following mergers was the Union Pacific. Total employment by the U.P. in Herington now stands about 225-plus. But it took more than 20 years for the town to regain at least 200 railroad jobs.

I've attached some pictures of the last Rock Island train to arrive in Herington on the night of March 31, 1980. It was a northbound train that had been taken over by a Herington-based crew at Caldwell, KS. several hours earlier. I'm sorry, but I didn't take down any details on engine numbers, car counts or the number of loads/empties. That all seemed unimportant at the time. The only thing I knew is that I wanted to record some history by photographing the last R.I. train.

Picture One shows engine 4461 on the point of the inbound train, shown just south of the yard office. Only myself and one other guy were on hand to greet the train's arrival about 10 p.m. The photographer shown in the picture is Larry Bettles, an acquaintance of mine who had worked for a few years for the Rock Island as a brakeman, but eventually left the railroad in the mid-1970s to join his father in a family business.

Picture Two shows the three-man crew on the head-end of the train posing for a picture after the train halted. From left, are: Engineer F. S. Megenity, fireman E.L. Kolling and head brakeman G.F. Price.

Picture Three shows rear brakeman J.O. Lee preparing to leave the front steps of the rear caboose.

Picture Four shows photographer Bettles greeting brakeman Lee as he stepped to the ground, ending his long railroad career with The Rock.

Picture Five shows conductor L.D. "Archie" Gardner as he also prepared to step off the last Rock Island train in Herington.

All five of the trainmen on that last train to Herington were all residents of Herington. A couple of them are now deceased.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/31/10 16:36 by thtinc41ed.








Date: 03/31/10 08:40
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: JoCoLB

Pictures four and five...






Date: 03/31/10 10:02
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: goneon66

what a great post.......

66



Date: 03/31/10 10:09
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: njmidland

The Oklahoma-Kansas-Texas Railroad was an M-K-T subsidiary, not Frisco.



Date: 03/31/10 10:22
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: Atomicpunk

Did all these guys end up working for the Cotton Belt once they took over operations?

Mike



Date: 03/31/10 11:06
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: switchlock

If E.L. Kolling is the same E. that I know, he went on to the Katy or OKT and then retired from UP. I work with him every now and then at Abilene on tourist train.



Date: 03/31/10 13:34
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: PRose

Both Everett Kolling and Francis Megenity were ex UP Salina enginemen. Cut off when they
did away with firemen on every job, they went to
work for the Rock Island at Herington.
Here's where they were working at Salina on July 5,
1962.

1) Francis Megenity was on the fireman's extra board.
On this day, he deadheaded to Ellis on #9 to protect
the hostler swing job there. He will be there for 5 days.

2) Everett Kolling was firing in the West Freight Pool. He
caught Mixed train #369 to Ellis.

Everett went with the OKT and Francis went with the SSW/SP.

Bob Helling
PRose






Date: 03/31/10 13:45
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: WAF

Atomicpunk Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Did all these guys end up working for the Cotton
> Belt once they took over operations?
>
> Mike

Some did



Date: 03/31/10 15:59
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: JoCoLB

Everett had quite a varied career --- from U.P. to R.I. to OKT and then ended up with U.P. But I also think he had a fifth railroad position somewhere with another line at some point.

Everett is a volunteer for the A&SV excursion line at Abilene. He also serves a member of the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners and is known as an active community volunteer. Since retiring from railroading, I think he made a point of visiting every major league baseball park in the U.S. He is a nice man, who has lots and lots of friends.



Date: 03/31/10 18:07
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: dcfbalcoS1

Where is the mention of the 'Frisco' in here, I can't find it.



Date: 03/31/10 18:42
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: JoCoLB

Everett Kolling once told me his first job with the U.P. was serving as a fireman on steam locomotives at Salina. Among the engines that he shoveled coal on was the old U.P. engine that is on display in a Salina park just west of the Bicentennial Center. If you want to talk about a train service worker who has seen so much change in railroading in the past 55-plus years, visit with Everett Kolling of Herington, KS.



Date: 04/01/10 09:37
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: wag216

And he helps Santa Claus every year as the little folks enjoy their gifts.
wag216



Date: 04/01/10 09:54
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: ddg

Do you see Sam Stitt anywhere on the registers? He finished up on the UP. He was an Engineer out of Herington, to KC I believe. He retired about ten years ago, He's one of our renters, I need to ask him about his last days on the R.I. I guess. I think he was from Alma, Ks. and went to work firing in 1956, right out of school.



Date: 04/01/10 12:12
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: aussiehinz

Certainly did enjoy that story and those pics. Reminds me a little of Marion Ohio, a major division point on the Erie Lackawanna, which was basically abandoned on April 1, 1976 (ironically, 34 years ago today!), when Conrail was formed. Operations on the EL main line west of Marion were not a part of Conrail's plans, and that once busy main line was silenced, other than a few disjointed stretches still operated by short lines. Thanks much for posting and sharing.

Aussiehinz



Date: 04/01/10 19:41
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: upkpfan

Anybody recall a Samuel Wiley Higgins or he might have went by Wiley Samuel Higgins that worked for the Rock Island Lines? upkpfan



Date: 05/02/13 18:04
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: Miles

I think Sammy retired at Wichita Ks. in the old Mop yard which u.p. got in the merger there was Pete and Connie also they were all top engineers and good people to work with.



Date: 03/11/19 14:50
Re: The last Rock Island train to Herington, KS
Author: sfbrkmn

Stitt was from Topeka and but worked in Wichita on the Cline yd job. At some unknown time following the merger, he took a buyout w/UP.
Kolling floated around the road @ Herington and Cline yd in Wichita. My guess this was an extra bd position, but he worked Sa-Sun on the Cline job often. After the merger, he was awarded the UP Wichita-Ark City LVB59 local. That became his retirement job until pulling the pin in 1997.



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