Adventures in railroading - A Life Chasing Trains

Adventures in railroading

My interest in trains followed a somewhat logical progression: Lionel, HO models, and a copy of Trains magazine. However, the weekday trips with my mother to Burlingame station to fetch my father from his commute train is probably what iced it. The train ahead of his did not stop and would thunder by at 60 mph within a few feet of where I was sitting in the car and both scare and fascinate me. So the trap was set.

In 1959 the local Road Foreman of Engines for Southern Pacific was a patient in the doctor's office where my mother worked. I was in college and needed a summer job and he said SP was hiring firemen. So at age 19 on July 14, 1959 at 10:59 p.m. I made my date as a Coast Division fireman. One thing led to another and 41 years later I retired from a railroad career.

At SP I worked in the operating, cost analysis, transportation, and marketing departments over a period of 21 years. When it became clear SP would not be a merger survivor,  I left and joined GATX Capital were I worked in railroad finance for 20 years both here and in Europe. Having always been a railfan as well as a railroader, I thoroughly enjoyed my work. I described my career as  "paid to chase trains".   Being a railfan never was a professional disadvantage, although it was important to separate business from pleasure.

I'm a native San Franciscan, Cal Bear class of '62, and have spent most of my life in and around the Bay Area, punctuated by short stays in Philadelphia, Houston, Salinas, and Washington, D.C. Barbara is a Philadelphia girl but has adjusted to life in California. We have one son Andy who used to chase trains with me but now is more interested in his computer.

The greatest thing about my railroad career are the friends I have made, both professional railroaders as well as those who chased trains with me.