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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Mike Shanahan

Date: 12/10/16 04:21
Mike Shanahan
Author: hogheaded

I have just learned that SP/Caltrain Engineer Mike Shanahan has passed away after a losing bout with cancer. Mike, like sphogger and I, gave up our trainman's seniority to go firing at Dunsmuir in Fall, 1984.

He was a few numbers ahead of me, and I fired for him on his first road trip, to Ashland, a couple of years later. It was supposed to be cab hop (I think that Eddie Flowers was the conductor), as Mike was not yet qualified to run a train over the hump. Yet, right out of the chute at Black Butte, we were ordered to pick up a few empties. The same thing happened later on at Hornbrook, so we actually wound up with about a 35 car train. We encountered a red signal at the east end of Siskiyou, which the way that the signals were set up, all of them would be red for the remainder of the downhill trip to Ashland, not an easy thing to contend with in low-speed, 3.5%+ grade territory. Previously, he had been so nervous at Black Butte that he had forgotten to cut the brake valve back in after performing the leakage check, but he had settled down by Siskiyou and took the train down the hill in those adverse circumstances like a veteran.

In 1992, Mike and I went to work for Caltrain, where he worked out of San Francisco, and spent his final pre-retirement years as a rules officer. All that I can say is, damn.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/10/16 07:51 by hogheaded.

Date: 12/10/16 05:29
Re: Mike Shanahan
Author: sphogger

Sorry to hear about Mike.  Hope his wife and son are doing ok.  

I think he was in Dunsmuir 10 years.  A true San Franciscan, he went back to his family and The City when he got the chance. He was a lot more comfortable with the Commutes than the 8500 footers and the mountain railroading he left behind.  Lots of fun stories about him.  We were at the simulator at the same time.  He had some traits of thr quintessential Irishman his name implies.  Lol.  Good guy.  Both of us were well matched as terrible skiers, had a lot of fun with him falling down the slopes night skiing at the Ski Park.  RIP old friend.   Sphogger

Date: 12/10/16 17:11
Re: Mike Shanahan
Author: johnw

Wow that's some sad news Ed! I hate to see these much younger than me guys go way before their time. Mike was one of the many really good guys and gals at Caltrain who made it a pleasant place to work, at least in the initial decade that Amtrak had the contract (1992-2002) which were my working years there. I heard the workplace became far less pleasant in latter years. Mike and I worked the same afternoon pool out of the City for several years and it was always fun to BS with him in the change room before our shifts began and during our breaks between trains. Photo is of Mike in the San Francisco Engineers Change Room in January 2002, right before I pulled the pin, quite possibly the last time I ever saw him.  R.I.P. Engineer Mike Shanahan, condolences to his family and friends.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/10/16 20:28 by johnw.

Date: 12/11/16 05:25
Re: Mike Shanahan
Author: hogheaded

John, your photo shows "Irish" just as I remember him.


Date: 12/11/16 08:58
Re: Mike Shanahan
Author: DGS

I had the pleasure of working with Mike during his last few years at Amtrak when he served as a Senior Analyst Operating Practices (Amtrak speak for rules examiner) and as the Hearing Officer for Amtrak's Western Region.  Mike was an old school railroader with some 37 years of service on the SP and Amtrak. He was able to provide insight to some of the younger employees as to why the rules were the way they were while at the same time be able to echo some of the senior employees frustrations about modern railroading.  He always enjoyed telling stories of his experiences, some of the best came from his time in Dunsmuir. His last day on Amtrak was January 31, 2015 in Oakland.  It was a full day of visits and stories with friends and co-workers.

Mike was a railroader, a devoted family man, a San Franciscan, and a true Irishman (he was born there). I know that he will be missed by all who knew him.

Dave Sell

Date: 12/11/16 12:26
Re: Mike Shanahan
Author: spnudge

Looking back he fired for me on December 26, 1984 from Dunsmuir to Klamath Falls. Nice guy.


Date: 01/10/17 10:14
Re: Mike Shanahan
Author: CardinalFang

Thanks for sharing this with everyone.  Very sad news.

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