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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal

Date: 09/04/18 10:55
Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: mdo

When I was an Assistant Division Superintendent on SPs San Antonio Division I was assigned to North Texas first headquartered in Ennis and later in Dallas, Texas.  It was during the period that my office was located in the old passenger depot in Ennis that this story takes place.

in 1976 we were preparing for a significant new operation.  The operation of unit coal trains which would originate in the Powder River basin on the BN and interchange to the SP in Ft Worth for the rest of the move to City Public Service power plant located at Elmandorf, south of San Antonio.  This was a big deal and would be a major increase in rail traffic on the H&TC portion of the SP, and additional work fo the Ennis based train and engine crews.  I spent considerable time with both Roy Price, the local chairman for the UTU trainmen and with John Percival, local chairman of the BofLE,engineers, planning for this new operation.

On the day of the first loaded train movement, John and I were having a conference in my office in Ennis.  When that first westbound train arrived we took a break and drove over to the yard office to observe the crew change.  While the train paused there led by four BN U33C engines with four more SD40 engines as mid-train remotes, I climbed the ladder on the head end of the first car, a new black and red coal car and scooped up two hands full of Wyoming coal.  Descending to. the ground with the coal in my pockets, I handed one little pile to John and kept the other one.

I kept that coal on my desk for many years.  I still have that coal in a little wooden bowl on my kitchen window.  Last week I had
an opportunity to visit Ennis, Tx.  My former office is now part of a railroad museum which now occupies the old passenger depot.
 There in a glass display case is a small hand full of coal.  I asked the curator if she knew  anything about where that coal had come from.  Well, she said, everything in that case was donated by John Percival.  John had a major role in establishing the museum.

I then related this story to her.  Now I know where that other hand foll of coal is, too

For much more of the story refer to mdc # 101 and 103


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/04/18 19:53 by mdo.

Date: 09/04/18 11:51
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: CCDeWeese

Cool story.

Date: 09/04/18 12:38
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: CarolVoss

Great stuff, Mike!

Carol Voss
Salinas, CA

Date: 09/04/18 14:22
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: spider1319

Neat story.Thanks for posting.Bill Webb

Date: 09/04/18 19:44
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: E25

Life is full of small treasures;   Sometimes we CAN go home again.

Greg Stadter
Phoenix, AZ

Date: 09/06/18 11:05
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: Margaret_SP_fan

Mike --
Oh, that is a truly wonderful story!    I am so touched that you did something so like what anyone would do -- go get a small souvenir of something really memorable about an important event they had been involved with.  And you didn't care that you got your pockets dirty -- that is so wonderful, and not at all like the usual image of a corpporate manager.  Thank you so much for sharing this honest andsweet story.

And you still have your small pie of coal.... how touching!  And it is wonderful that John Percival's little pile of coal is still around, and that the Ennis depot is ot oly still there, but is a museum, and that John Percival's little pikle of coal is there, with his other meorabilia.  Awesome!

Some railroad execs are really railfans at heart, and you sure seem to be.  (Well -- why go work for a company whose core business was boring to you?  Helps a lot to have a deep interest in the company's core business.  :)  )

Thaks, again, for the fascinating story.

Date: 09/07/18 05:38
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: dcfbalcoS1

       Not worried about getting your pocket dirty. . .   I met a fantastic manager when I worked at Halliburton who made an unannounced visit to many of our shops. He came into my office and sat for a while as I was on the phone with a customer. We visited a little and asked if any of my guys were in the shop and if so could we go visit. We walked across the yard and he met two of the guys, stuck his hand out and shook two dirty hands. Didn't bother him a bit. As they visited that hand went right back into his pocket and he enjoyed the time. I found out later he was a VP, good man and very knowledgeable.    Thats not the way it is anymore.

Date: 09/07/18 08:01
Re: Mad Dog Chronicle # 315. Two hands full of coal
Author: bradleymckay

Great story.

The front cover of the Midyear 1977 issue of the SP Bulletin has a publicity photo of one of these coal trains...all SP locomotives of course!

I'm guessing quite a bit of MOW work was done between Ft Worth and Ennis to get the line in shape for the coal moves.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/07/18 08:03 by bradleymckay.

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