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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Regrets?


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Date: 11/30/23 10:04
Regrets?
Author: RetiredHogger

Any regrets fellow old heads? I regret not learning more from the "oldtimers" about how things were when they started.

I appreciate the fact that when I started (1977), a lot of things were still done "the old way". But I regret not learning more about steam. I went to church for years with a man that fired steam on the Illinois Central. My brother-in-law's father fired steam on the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio. Both of these gentlemen were genuine railroad men, and good guys to boot. They'd have been happy to educate me. I just never thought about asking.

The same as I never thought to ask my Italian great-uncle about his immigrant experience.

Too late now.

 



Date: 11/30/23 10:55
Re: Regrets?
Author: wcamp1472

What kinds of questions would you have asked about railroading 
with steamers ?

Any that you're still curious about?
Stramers across the country were relatively the same.
Oil burners fired differently than maintaining a suitable coal 
firebed.

Engines built after 1930 tended to have broader, larger grate area
fireboxes, and tended to be capable of higher speeds, with longer trains.

Ask what interests you the most.  There are many steam-experienced 
guys on TO, that were around for the days of steam.
Its not too late.

W. 



Date: 11/30/23 11:08
Re: Regrets?
Author: steve4031

I am not a railroader, so maybe I should not be posting here.  But I do enjoy reading the posts of experienced railroaders.  What fascinates me is the idea of there being multiple sections of the 20th century Limited.  I understand that at times several sections were in operation on the same day.  How did the passengers know which section they were to board.  How did things work at Grand Central and LaSalle Street station in Chicago?  



Date: 11/30/23 11:30
Re: Regrets?
Author: Drknow

My dad lived in Wisconsin for about 33 years until moving back to “home” 2 years ago. He went to church with a gentleman who hired out firing on the Milwaukee in the early 30’s and this man fired the Hiawatha’s off the Xtra board and retired a engineer about 1980. Lived into his late 90’s and he always wanted to meet and talk with me, but we never did. A big regret.

Also regret not asking the Old Heads more about how things were handled back in the day.

Regards

Posted from iPhone



Date: 11/30/23 11:47
Re: Regrets?
Author: santafe199

I deeply regret not being more agressive in shooting working "portraits" of my fellow rails. Such as the engineer behind the throttle or the conductor at his desk in the waycar. I did end up with maybe 60 (rough guess) out of over 400 guys + 3 women...

Lance/199



Date: 11/30/23 12:56
Re: Regrets?
Author: RetiredHogger

wcamp1472 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What kinds of questions would you have asked about
> railroading 
> with steamers ?
>
> Any that you're still curious about?
> Stramers across the country were relatively the
> same.
> Oil burners fired differently than maintaining a
> suitable coal 
> firebed.
>
> Engines built after 1930 tended to have broader,
> larger grate area
> fireboxes, and tended to be capable of higher
> speeds, with longer trains.
>
> Ask what interests you the most.  There are many
> steam-experienced 
> guys on TO, that were around for the days of
> steam.
> Its not too late.
>
> W. 

Thanks. But this is something that I'd have to get into a conversation about, and just kind of let the questions flow. For me, it wouldn't lend itself to posting Q&A. But I appreciate the response.



Date: 11/30/23 13:49
Re: Regrets?
Author: TAW

RetiredHogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Any regrets fellow old heads?

Only not visiting and photographing more of the towers in Chicago that 'would always be there' so I could go back later - and photographing more of the ones I did visit, in and out.

TAW



Date: 11/30/23 15:09
Re: Regrets?
Author: 3rdswitch

Like Lance, I normally wouldn't even take a shot if people were in it. Big regret. And, not shooting cabooses.
JB



Date: 11/30/23 15:13
Re: Regrets?
Author: CCDeWeese

TAW Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> RetiredHogger Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Any regrets fellow old heads?
>
> Only not visiting and photographing more of the
> towers in Chicago that 'would always be there' so
> I could go back later - and photographing more of
> the ones I did visit, in and out.
>
> TAW
Agree,  I visited several, and never took a camera or tried to learn photography.  My excuse now is that film was expensive and developing more so and food, gasoline and beer were better use of my limited money.



Date: 11/30/23 16:45
Re: Regrets?
Author: ln844south

One of my biggest regret is sitting around in the lounge waiting on a call and listening to the old heads tell stories and not try to record any of them. Memories lost to time.
Steve



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/23 21:07 by ln844south.



Date: 11/30/23 17:06
Re: Regrets?
Author: PHall

ln844south Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> One of my biggest regret is setting around in the
> lounge waiting on a call and listening to the old
> heads tell stories and not try to record any of
> them. Memories lost to time.
> Steve

Of course would they have talked so freely if they knew they were being recorded? 



Date: 11/30/23 17:18
Re: Regrets?
Author: wp1801

Not appreciating how good I had it when I hired out on the Southern Pacific in 1962. Not taking photos. Not recording the memories of all the "steam men" that I worked with. Not exploring depots that had not changed for years. Not asking "old heads" about artifacts that they had "liberated"



Date: 11/30/23 17:20
Re: Regrets?
Author: acl67-2

Regret not taking pics.  I had a Minolta SRT 101.  I just didn't think of it at the time.
An autorack toppled off the lead at the north end of Yeoman yard, (Tampa), on top 
of a crew van with a crew in it.  They bailed when they saw what was happening, all 
got out ok.  One guy went to the grround beside the van and he was the only one 
with scratches.  Company moved the van up to the yard office so all could see, it
stayed for a couple weeks.  It was pretty flat. 
Another memory, at the phosphate loading facility at Big Bend, a crew was shoving
a stub end track with a 20-25 foot dirt pile at the end.  Shoved too far, caboose
went up the dirt pile and was stuck there for about 3-4 months, like a monument. 
Went to quite a few derailments.  
An engine came into Uceta enginehouse with grapefruit all over the running boards.
They had hit a truck hauling grapefruit to Tropicana. 
Train running in heavy fog, conductor thought they were clear and gave up the
block, but they weren't clear.  Engine light crew ran into the side of their train and 
2 RS-3's went into the deep ditch.  This was before Hulcher, so the hook got called .   Max



Date: 11/30/23 20:00
Re: Regrets?
Author: cewherry

Like so many already mentioned, I failed miserably in taking opportunities to gently probe those old heads for their first-person experiences. Some of these were men who hired out back around WW I ! Imagine what I missed out on.

Charlie

Posted from iPhone



Date: 11/30/23 21:12
Re: Regrets?
Author: ln844south

Maybe they may not talk freely being recorded, but I should have taken notes. When I was part of the West Florida Railroad Museum in Milton, Fl. we tossed around the ideal to get some of the old heards together to record with their permission. They were all retired by then and could speak freely. An Ideal we failed to follow up on. Sorta like the Veterans at Railroad Historical Society Conventions telling stories. What a missed chance.

Steve
 



Date: 12/01/23 09:04
Re: Regrets?
Author: spider1319

More pictures.I took a few of my coworkers but only if the were ok with it.Some like the grandkids would ham it up and add some interest.Many rejected the idea of pictures of themselves but were accomodating on train pics.Bill Webb



Date: 12/01/23 09:08
Re: Regrets?
Author: engineerinvirginia

My only regret is that my old heads are mostly dead, and I am the old head I never wanted to be...but I am giving the new hires every shred of information and history I can. They don't know what they don't know, but I do. 



Date: 12/01/23 09:37
Re: Regrets?
Author: goldcoast

Being in the SP general office in San Francisco, I regret not taking photos of my coworkers and office events over the years.  There was so much history the final two years during the closure.
Listening to stories from various officers in the general office of their experiences out on line over the course of their careers.  I too, wish I had a tape recorder.  In any of you rails are approached
by someone seeking oral histories please do so.  Your stories will be preserved.  I did so for one of the SP groups.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/23 11:14 by goldcoast.



Date: 12/01/23 12:24
Re: Regrets?
Author: sf1010

I've never had a rail in my family, but still I regret not having more conversations with my Dad.



Date: 12/01/23 17:54
Re: Regrets?
Author: sp3204

I went into engine service in 1975. There were still a number of engineers that had worked steam, I had the pleasure to talk to them and learn some of their particular experiences. I was on the American Freedom Train and more specifically the 4449 engine crew. I eventually worked in as a fireman on the crew and growing up on the SP what could be better than firing a GS4 around the country in 1975-1976. We always had pilots on the different railroads and sometimes you could get information from their experiences that were priceless! Lots of our pilots were hand picked and ex steam guys. I was so lucky to be in that position and firing to get different points of views from other people who had fired oil burners back in the day. It was also very interesting to listen to guys who worked coal burners and the difference in those operations.

We spent a lot of miles on the Southern Pacific and I was able to get the experiences from these "Old Heads" on their experiences with different model steam steam engines. I remember an SP Coast Engineer who fired on the San Jose to San Francisco commute jobs in the mid 1950's. He told me they called the Daylight painted GS's "Yellow Jackets" and the 4300's (4-8-2 Mountains) were the best engines to handle the commutes! There were many of these types of stories that I was privileged to hear that I still remember. I was able to have my Father who was a Railfan and rode a portion of the Transcontinental Excursion in 1977 with me in the cab when I fired out of San Luis Obispo late April 1977 to the next division point of Watsonville...he got to experience it all with me in that 152 miles. I was also able to fire a section of the 1981 trip I believe between Dunsmuir and Sacramento to join in the festivities of the opening of the California Railroad Museum. My BLE Griever at that time, Henry Midkiff was an ex steam man and was retiring after a 45 year career in Engine Service. He got his rest in the Dunsmuir Mods and was going to be called as our Pilot Engineer on his last trip back home. A more gracious man you would never meet. Doyle had been running awhile and asked if he would like to run as it was his last trip. Henry refused a number of times before he said okay. He got in the seat and it was as if he had run a steam engine the day before. It was one of those magical moments and I will never forget that day. His extended family met him in Sacramento on his last trip and he even ended up doing a TV interview on a local station. He came over when we arrived in Sacramento and Doyle got back in the Engineers seat and shook my hand thanking me for a great last trip...He said good job firing on the trip.

Most of these people that told me stories and gave me tips are gone now. I regret not taking pictures of them, forgetting some of their names, but I do remember the stories. I was a steam to diesel guy myself when I went into engine service myself on the SP in 1977. My oldest Son fired for me twice on the UP, he now has 20 years of seniority in Engine Service. My youngest Son was my Conductor many times when I was still working the Pool. I guess I will miss all the great stories from the Old Heads I worked with and all of the knowledge they passed on to me from both sides of the cab...I tried to pass that on to the next generation.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/23 19:40 by sp3204.



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