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This story will be written in 1981 terms of names and places.
In the northern area of Oklahoma City the crossing of Western Avenue and Britton Road is also crossed at an approximate 30 degree angle by Uncle John Santa Fe. I was hired as a brakeman/switchman on the Frisco railroad in August of 1981. (yes, I know it was BN, Inc by then but Frisco corporate culture was/is indelible). The Frisco East yard office is in the southeast area of OKC but I chose to live up north near the town of Edmond. As someone who had never spent time in this town I decided to cruise around and see what this area had to offer. In the dark of night while travelling westward on Britton Road I came to the intersection of Western Avenue and noticed there are railroad crossing gates across all four sides of the intersection. I thought this was fantastic! As I approached the traffic signals suddenly all of the crossing gates lit up and all arms started down. I saw in front of me a Volkswagen whose driver had been caught near the center of the crossing just before the railroad signals activated. I am not sure of the direction the Volkswagen intended to go next, but with all crossing arms going down the Bug did a full 450 degrees of circling in the street before they decided to go left and get out of danger.  Then !!   A southbound AT&SF freight comes roaring through the crossing at track speed which later research proved to be 50 mph. That was exciting, and the train missed the Bug by only a second or two.  It was at that point I determined the Santa Fe told the city at what speed they would travel through town rather than the other way around.

Included is a screenshot of a "street level view" of the crossing which appears to be slightly different than it was 40+ years ago with the addition of barriers between the lanes of traffic.  Publication1It is otherwise the same view I had in 1981.


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My three sons work for the railroad in different places, and they often run into people who know me or who know people I know.  So, the middle son, who works in Denver, encountered somebody who knows a retired railroader from Sweetwater, Texas, and he asked if the name was familiar to me.  It reminded me of this story about him.

When I was Assistant Superintendent for Santa Fe, at Sweetwater, I was in my office one morning and I answered the telephone.  "Boss, I'm turning myself in," the caller informed me.  He was an Engineer in the freight pool to Temple, Texas, and lived on acreage, outside town.  "For what?" I asked.  "Well, I thought it was too good of a morning not to hunt, and I was out on my property and had just shot a deer, when my beeper vibrated in my pocket.  I had to make a decision whether to field strip that deer or to miss a call, and I have to tell ya that I decided not to leave that deer in the field.  I'll sign for any discipline you want to give me."

"Well," I replied, "You turned yourself in, and admitted what you did.  I can't see how formal discipline could fix this.  Just give me your word that you won't hunt ever again when you are first or second out."  "I can do that, Boss.  It'll never happen again."

In 22 years as an Official it was my experience that discipline was only necessary if behaviors could not be corrected with a handshake.  Some employees have enough credibility for that, while others require discipline for every infraction, in order to get their cooperation.   Of course. there are some very serious things, such as passing a Stop signal, that always require formal discipline, but there was no need to clutter up this man's record with unnecessary discipline for what he did.  Good employees, when you give them a break, will be even better employees from then on.  This fellow even started changing brake shoes and adjusting the brake rigging whenever he would be called for our switcher after that.  "Just payin' ya back for that deer, Boss."

And the reason I had that attitude about discipline is that, years earlier, I had been the Engineer on a crew which included a Conductor who was a bad actor and was leading the crew into doing something that could have resulted in all of us being fired.  A Trainmaster met me at the roundhouse when I was signing out, took me aside, and informed me that the behavior must never happen again, and, further, the only reason we were keeping our jobs is that my record was spotless and he was sure that I would prevent any future behavior of that type from any crew of which I was a part.  I got his message loud and clear.

Last edited by Number 90

I’m not a professional railroader. The following memory is simply from the young railfan point of view. It is an anecdote which has stuck in my mind all my life and I’m sure will continue to be there until I die, or maybe even after!?!

I grew up In Erie, PA during NKP steam days with the mainline about 265 feet from the back of our house. Frequent trips on my bicycle to pester the railroad crews included going to NKP’s “Dean Yard” on Erie’s east side, adjacent to the GE locomotive plant. Eastbound NKP freights pulled by Berkshires would very often stop at Dean Yard to drop off cars. Engine crews were very friendly so often get up in the cab while they were doing the switching moves. It got so some of the crews recognized me.

So, on one such occasion, we had coupled back up to the train, the head brakeman climbs back up in the cab, the fireman is checking what is a good hot fire, and the engineer is charging the brake line. So here I am, I was 13 or 14 at the time, standing in the cab of a live NKP S3 Berkshire which is sizzling at the pops, when the engineer turns to me and says, “well Jimmie, unless you want to go to Buffalo, you better get off.” I looked at my bicycle leaning up against a fence and thought of my dad drop-kicking my butt halfway down the block as he explains to me how, “I scared the crap out of mom”, so I chuckled and climbed down from the cab. As I had done many times before, I watched the engineer yank that throttle out, once everything was moving, as he prepared for the race to Buffalo.  

What haunts me to this day is if I said, “let’s go”, would he have taken me? The crew might have helped me throw my bicycle up on the tender deck?

In retrospect, dad worked for the NKP so the railroad could have contacted him and told him where I was. I know what dad would have said, “Well you got yourself up there, now get yourself back!”

Jim Kreider

Nelson street in Quanah Texas runs due east and west where it crossed the QA&P mainline between our yard and the connection to the FW&D (BN,inc at the time of this scenario).

Our switcher typically began service in the wee hours upon the arrival of inbound Frisco 537 and ran until we tied up which was usually around sunrise. There was an old man late for work headed east on Nelson (into the sunrise) just as we were headed across Nelson to deliver a cut to the FW&D. We were only going about 5 mph and blowing the crossing as the old guy approached at a high rate of speed. He hit his brakes and skidded to a stop directly over our tracks. Of course, we hit him squarely, and could see his horrified expression as we pushed his car about 20 feet before we came to a stop.  It might have taken us further to stop were it not for the fact that we switched with air, which enabled us to stop quicker.  The local deputy arrived to write up the incident. He said the skid marks he measured were the longest ones he ever recorded.  Being railroaders, the question raised was, “were they on the pavement or somewhere else!”.

Delete this if it is deemed inappropriate.



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Best Christmas ever had or will ever have.

I was seven.  Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, we had Higbees, May co and Halley’s down town department stores.  After Thanksgiving, each would have an entire floor full of toys.  Of course the best was the train area where there was Lionel and American Flyer layouts set up.  I’d stay there for hours watching them run and, of course, there were free catalogs.

Mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I pointed to the Lionel SF diesel A-A and 4 beautiful aluminum passenger cars and said ‘that’.  At 90 bucks, mom said we can’t afford that.  Dad worked at Midland Ross steel and, if he made that in a week, he was lucky!

$90 in 1953 is over $1,000 in 2022: imagine spending that much on a seven year old, today, for one present!

I remember getting up that Christmas morning and seeing the large rectangular box all wrapped and knew exactly what it was.

As in ‘Christmas story’, that was the best Christmas I ever had, or ever will.

And it still runs great!

Lionel original 01


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A few years ago I was out railfanning with a conductor for a regional railroad.  We had stopped by the trainmaster on duty's office to get a line up and say howdy.  There was a w/b coming we could easily catch.  I was taking night shots so I went to a location that had a tied down e/b and set up some flash.  And we waited.  Train came, I popped the flash.  A minute later the crew called into the trainmaster on the radio and claimed there was someone inside the parked train and they took their photo.  My friend and I looked at each other.  Huh?  The trainmaster told the crew to wait at the Hwy 19 crossing for the deputy sheriff to arrive and give him the report.  The crew acknowledged.  I told my buddy, "Those guys are freaking liars.  Call (trainmaster) and tell him we were nowhere near the parked train.  So, he called.  Trainmaster replied, "I know you guys weren't in the cab.  Those two are always telling me wild stories.  No deputy is coming."  I said, "What? They'll be sitting there waiting for a deputy that's never going to come?  For how long?"  The trainmaster replied, "They waste my time, I'll waste theirs.  I'm going to let them sit until they get some sense."  I told him that could be until past dawn.   I told my buddy that if it wasn't so late and I was so tired I'd beat them to the Hwy 19 crossing, set up the flash, and do it again.

Kent in SD

Middle trick, hostler moving a double header F-40PH, to outbound track, made the move from the rear cab. Know where this is going (?) went through the switch, got down to throw the switch and realized the front unit wasn't coupled. Climbed back in the cab and gave chase, calling the tower to tell them they had a 'runaway', headlight on dim, and 'low idle',3mi to station down hill, tried to couple up, but the couplers were closed, which only made it go faster, all the time running every 'red' signal. The tower 'lined' up the switches, sent her through the low level, through the trunnel and onto bridge into RF&P yard. It rolled to a stop on the bridge, and he was able to couple up, and drag her back. Didn't hit anyone, anything, just scared the hostler to death. When they ask him how far he was going to chase it, he said till he caught it. He worked till he retired, but he never lived it down, and never made a move again from the trailing unit! True story!

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