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Railroaders' Nostalgia > The ice house murder.


Date: 01/08/20 09:36
The ice house murder.
Author: eminence_grise

Railroaders usually get along with each other, so violent acts between employees are rare.

This incident took place in the late 1960's.

A backgrounder; a yard office clerk and a switchman were both dating the same girl, and a classic love triangle had emerged.

The office clerk decided to kill the switchman.

Every day, a local freight would do extensive switching, and when the cars to be added to the train had been switched, the switch engine would back a large cut of cars to a "long joint". This was before the days of radios. The "field man" would ride the end of the cut to a joint with the train. Typically, because there was a curve near the point where the rest of the train was parked, he would give a car count signal just before he vanished from view. The switcher would slow to a crawl and make a blind joint. It would then pull gently ahead to test the joint. Often the recently switched portion would have several air hoses to be connected , so there would be no great concern if the field man took some time to re-appear.  

On the evening that this occurred, after some time the other switchman on the crew walked back to see what was happening.  He found the body of the field man beside the railroad ice house. He had been shot to death.

The police arrived and in time the body was transported. For awhile, they didn't know if this was a targeted killing or whether someone was randomly targeting railroad workers.
The car inspectors and track workers were very fearful of going out into the yard.

The surviving switchman who discovered the body of the other switchman was very scared to go to work, figuring himself a likely target for the "mad gunman".

After a couple of days, the absence of the yard office clerk was noted, and Game Wardens discovered his body on a remote logging road. He had used the same rifle to commit suicide as he had to kill the switchman.

Relieved that the culprit had been found, the railroaders who worked the yard relaxed somewhat. The surviving switchman was still a young man with many friends employed in the yard. Occasionally they would perform practical jokes on each other.

Several days after the incident, "Howie" the switchman was performing the same long joint maneuver that the deceased switchman had been doing. Needless to say he was a little bit spooked.

As the draft of cars were close to making a joint on the parked portion of the train, they ran over a series of track torpedoes. Just before that happened, a voice from the dark said "OK, Howie, I've got you now!". I think he said he soiled himself. The car inspectors played a trick on him.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/20 15:34 by eminence_grise.



Date: 01/13/20 11:19
Re: The ice house murder.
Author: Cabhop

In the SP's West Colton Yard we had a Trainman "go off the deep" end and shot an Assistant Trainmaster.  While this was a bit extreme, there were no tears shed for the ATM.  In fact the Trainman got more donations for his legal defence than the ATM got for his funeral donations.



Date: 01/20/20 19:33
Re: The ice house murder.
Author: Exlahog

Wasn't the person shot a yardmaster at West Colton and the son of an ATM? Or maybe I have it reversed, not sure now. I do remember this happening and remember the father as being a good guy but the son not so much.  Tragic incidence.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/20 19:36 by Exlahog.



Date: 01/20/20 22:22
Re: The ice house murder.
Author: ExSPCondr

The person shot was a Yardmaster who had been an ATM.  TE Williams JR.  His father, obviously TE Williams Sr. hired out the same day I did, 2/24/66.  His grandfather was GA Williams, the afternoon Bullring Yardmaster when I hired out, and the Yardmaster's Local Chairman.

A trivia question for the Ex SPers:  Who took the Ydm's Local Chairmans job after Gerry Williams retired?  Hint: he was well known on the LA Divn.
G



Date: 01/21/20 09:37
Re: The ice house murder.
Author: cewherry

ExSPCondr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> A trivia question for the Ex SPers:  Who took the
> Ydm's Local Chairmans job after Gerry Williams
> retired?  Hint: he was well known on the LA
> Divn.

A wild guess: George De Lellis?

Charlie



Date: 01/21/20 09:44
Re: The ice house murder.
Author: ExSPCondr

Hey  Charlie!
Not a wild guess at all, and I think you are only one of two current posters with enough original seniority to be able to CORRECTLY answer the question about another craft!

George was only the griever for about a year, as he twisted the LA Yard's tail so bad by making them live up to the agreement that they promoted him.
G



Date: 01/21/20 10:29
Re: The ice house murder.
Author: cewherry

ExSPCondr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> George was only the griever for about a year, as
> he twisted the LA Yard's tail so bad by making
> them live up to the agreement that they promoted
> him.

I can't count the number of times, on various railroads that I have either worked on or have knowledge of that
when upper management was faced with the task of recruiting a new member for their team; they chose an individual
from, shall we say, 'the opposition'. When you consider the logic in this it really makes sense on a couple of levels.
Obviously, who else besides a local, well seasoned, griever would know the proper application of various labor agreements
and what could and could not be upheld on appeal to higher authorities (labor boards, courts etc.).

On a more sinister level, when reaching into the 'trenches' to find candidates for promotion, management thereby creates
a vacuum of knowledge and expertise among 'the opposition' that may take years, if indeed ever, to replenish. 
But don't get me started.....

Charlie

 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/21/20 15:11 by cewherry.



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