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Nostalgia & History > WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!

Date: 09/13/17 08:08
WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: santafe199

Once upon a time the Santa Fe provided switching service for numerous industrial business accounts in the Pauline area south of downtown Topeka, KS. To the casual observer one of the most visible would be Forbes Air Force Base. But in actuality by the early 1970s Santa Fe was providing only a minimum of switching service there, mainly delivering fuel and other related commodities.

Even before the advent of WWII there were detailed military plans for what was then known as the “Topeka Army Air Filed”, or TAAF for short. With the December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TAAF project at Topeka was given an immediate Congressional green light. Santa Fe was instrumental in providing material and supplies as the massive construction project preceded. In fact, there was at one time a small engine service facility south (TT west) of the Pauline depot for the switchers working TAAF. It was a mere matter of course that any job serving the many industries around Pauline -including the future Forbes AFB- took on the nick name “Pauline Bomber”. This included local trains #51 & #52, which at the time were better known as the Alma Branch Local. Even after the Alma Branch ceased to exist this nickname lasted well into the 1980s. The local was cut back to running down to Pauline & back, with the occasional extension down to Emporia & back on the main line.

On a beautiful day in November the recently retired Bill Gibson made use of the gorgeous weather by committing the 1973 version of the Pauline Bomber to Kodachrome slide film. Enjoy…

1. AT&SF 2578, power for the “Pauline Bomber” sits at the roundhouse facility along with siblings 2917 & 2758 in Topeka, KS.

2. The 2578 is now leading the Pauline Bomber over SW Topeka Boulevard in the Pauline area of Topeka, KS

3. The Pauline Bomber is stopped at the depot in Pauline. With the train order boards displaying stop in both directions the crew is most likely inside getting train orders and/or other instructions.
Three photos taken on November 21, 1973 by William A. Gibson (WAG) Sr.

Thanks for looking back!
Lance Garrels (santafe199)
Art Gibson (wag216)

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/17 08:30 by santafe199.

Date: 09/13/17 10:22
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: march_hare

There has to be a gag line in here somewhere about how "perilous" the Pauline local was. After all, it was tied to the RR tracks.

Date: 09/13/17 10:27
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: UP951West

The 3rd slide is an absolute stunner. .. calendar quality.
Great job, Art. --Kelly

Date: 09/13/17 11:56
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: LocoPilot750

Brings back the memories Lance. In the later 70's, I lived in a two story house just to the left, out of the frame on the last photo, directly across the street from the depot. Also in the 70's, I sometimes went on & off duty at the depot (still have the keys) as the one and only car inspector at Pauline. This was during the regular man's 5 week vacations. During my slack time which I had lots of, I'd ride around on the engine for hours, and was right there if I was needed for anything. When I did work, it was usually at the Del Monte warehouse, helping re-hang load dividers off their tracks, or to help open or close plug doors on box cars. If I felt like, it, I'd roam the small yard changing out worn out brake shoes, or looking for bad orders. Then, sometimes Topeka Railroad Equipment (TRE) would call, and I'd go over there to the base, and inspect any shop releasers they had. Usually DOTX flat cars, or covered hoppers & a few repaired box cars. There not there anymore of course. I was raised in Pauline, and lived there at several different addresses until I transferred to engine service at Emporia in Jan of '79.

Date: 09/13/17 12:23
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: Bob3985

I remember our trips out to Forbes Field at Pauline for Topeka Railroad Days celebrations.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY

Date: 09/13/17 20:56
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: bmarti7

Did the MOP ever access Forbes from the east side of the base. I can't remember.


Date: 09/14/17 03:48
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: LocoPilot750

They did during the 50's, maybe early 60's. There was a wye at 53rd street, from there they came in from the north end of the base, ran SW almost to highway 75, then ran south just east of the old Pauline elementery school. Santa Fe also had a short lived connection that came off  the First District a couple of blocks north of the 57th street crossing. It ran SE across Highway 75, and connected with the MOP track (or base trackage at that point) about where the north gate is presently. When they extended the run ways for B-52's. (which never were assigned to Forbes) they brought the Moline KS rock in this way for the project. Sometimes in the mid 50's, after the entension was complete, the connection was taken out.

Date: 09/14/17 07:24
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: bmarti7

Thanks - I thought so. I was raised in Topeka and I remember seeing MP locos by US-75. Another recollection of Forbes was that it was one of the first Atlas missile bases. While attending Topeka High we were let out of class to walk over to Topeka Blvd. when the first Atlas deployment convoy came through town. They stopped near the State Office Building to take official photos with the state Capital Building in the background. I think the missile was headed to the "coffin" silo near Valley Center.


Date: 09/14/17 09:35
Re: WAG Wednesday: The Pauline Bomber!
Author: LocoPilot750

I attended the Pauline Elementery School K thru 6th grade. I can only remember seeing the MOP on the base from the playground couple of times, but do I remember seeing an Alco FA one of those few times. I don't know how often they used FA's on that branch, but must have at least once. Looking the other direction, I remember vividly watching Santa Fe Alco PA's bring an eastbound freight train into the siding at Pauline. That was from my window seat in Mrs. Warren's 3rd grade class room. The next three years, I could only listen, because there were no windows facing that direction, Dammit.

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