Railroaders

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Railroaders
Posted by BaltACD on Friday, August 04, 2017 8:47 AM

To the Railroaders:

We have a community and culture unlike any other. We live out on the rails in a strange brotherhood. We are cobbled from every background and together we are railroaders.

Many of us grew up together out here. We became men, women, parents, spouses; all while riding the rails and moving the freight. We miss our nights and weekends, holidays and family events. We sacrifice our sleep and comfort and health to provide for those we love and to keep our country supplied.

We spend days and weeks and months and years cramped up in tiny stinking boxes hurling through the darkness and fog and rain and snow. We often share more time time together than we do with anyone else.

We share experiences that no one from outside our brotherhood could ever understand. People hurl themselves and their vehicles in front of our trains accidentally or on purpose and we are there together dealing with the nightmares and the tragedy of the sights. We know no schedule and sleep in far flung cities more than we sleep in our own beds. We drop everything to run to the train yard and disappear down the tracks. We fight the brutal fatigue. We lose the friendships with people who will never understand the life.

In the decades we share together in our tiny boxes we see marriages made and broken, children born and raised. We see each other drunkenly jolly and sternly sober. Our families spend time together because they understand that mom or dad may or may not be there and that its just the way it goes.

We constantly make fun of each other. I've seen crowded rooms of men collectively roll their eyes when the one guy that we all know "just doesn't get it" walks into our midst. We nickname ourselves and keep each other's secrets. We take care of the guy who stayed out too late or who is sick but can't cut out. We watch each others backs and cover up our mistakes.

We share the feeling of screaming through small towns in the middle of the night ringing our bells, belching our black smoke, and blowing our horns. We control thousands of horsepower on any given day and will win nearly any fight against all other machines. We know what real power and grit and grime are all about.

Over the years we've seen management come and go and we are still here. We've had contracts and elections and here we are, still alive, and still fighting. We've fought some silly rules and skirted some others, and here we thrive.  News will never travel faster than it does on the rails. We are a collection of old ladies sharing the latest gossip. In any crew room across the country the intimacies of our brotherhood are shared across battered old tables and steaming cups of coffee. Lies are told, laughs are bellowed, and age-old stories that we've all already heard are repeated again and again.

Our ranks are constantly being replenished from the bottom up. Fresh young faces wander into our yards and onto our trains looking lost and disoriented. They will become one of us. They will grow and mature into the brotherhood. I've seen meek and cowardly men join our crafts and transform, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the annoying, into the proud and the fierce. This life changes us.

We may fight and we may complain (there's no better complainer than a seasoned railroader) but we are something special that should never be underestimated or taken for granted. We have given ourselves to this thing and it means something. We are railroaders!

.....Joshua Jones (June 15 at 11:06pm · Chicago, IL)

 

Found the above on Facebook

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

RME
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Posted by RME on Friday, August 04, 2017 9:06 AM

That is a damn good find!

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, August 04, 2017 9:38 AM

Cool. So when is a railroader not a railroader? Obviously the people who work on the trains, the MOW people, the yardmasters, the mechanics, and the dispatchers are railroaders. And I guess the top brass are railroaders too as they'e the only ones ever awarded with the distinction "Railroader of the Year". But what about the administrative and sales people.. are clerks and "account executives" railroaders too? 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, August 04, 2017 10:54 AM

Ulrich

But what about the administrative and sales people.. are clerks and "account executives" railroaders too? 

For the most part, they are not railroaders, they could be doing the same type jobs at insurance companies, bank, health providers - any number of other business types and not have their jobs changed in any material way.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, August 04, 2017 11:58 AM

BaltACD

 

 
Ulrich

But what about the administrative and sales people.. are clerks and "account executives" railroaders too? 

 

For the most part, they are not railroaders, they could be doing the same type jobs at insurance companies, bank, health providers - any number of other business types and not have their jobs changed in any material way.

 

 

Yup, that makes sense..

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, August 04, 2017 12:04 PM

Not to the Railroad Retirement Board, though.  All of them are still covered for retirement by RRB.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by mudchicken on Friday, August 04, 2017 1:37 PM

Not sure I would agree with that sentiment. They know the language and they know how to manipulate the system to benefit the railroad.  (Alex/ LARams guy was a trainman, but also one of those.)

The engineers/architects/surveyors around me are sure I came from another world (Grand Railroad of the Holy Faith) and speak in heiroglyphics half the time (FGROW, DOT#, undercutter, frog angles, lead distance, bent stockrail, A&B blocks, cribbing, little "o" distance, bents, EE BR, spring line.....whut the?) ... But I suddenly get popular when they have to deal with a railroad because their project is "the most important ever" for a nanosecond.

Some of those account execs keep railroads alive....I don't see anybody trying to offend the beancounters, claim agents or attorneys...

(for that matter, I'm sure many of the high and mighty here have no true idea of what a surveyor does [there are 3 surveyors on Rushmore with that insignificant (?) "other guy"] besides look through an optical astronomy telescope (the damn recent History Channel docudrama on the Royal Gorge War left us in stitches . Telescopes are not vernier transits and wye/dumpy levels. Anything with tripod legs is a transit Laugh )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUFpuvh8tVw ABSOLUTE CRAP factually and visually...

Back off a little folks. think about it.

The original post is still good in trying to explain the different breed of cat.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by diningcar on Friday, August 04, 2017 2:03 PM

MC, proir to the D&RG - ATSF sitoo at the Royal Gorge the significant western gunfighter Bat Masterson was a grader as the Santa Fe built toward Dodge City. He along with a brother later became part of law enforcement in Dodge City and as Bat's reputation grew he served in similar positions throughout the west. His "loyalty" to Santa Fe placed him in the Royal Gorge situation where he never fired a shot. Railroaders come in all in stripes as you point out.

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, August 04, 2017 3:06 PM

mudchicken

Not sure I would agree with that sentiment. They know the language and they know how to manipulate the system to benefit the railroad.  (Alex/ LARams guy was a trainman, but also one of those.)

The engineers/architects/surveyors around me are sure I came from another world (Grand Railroad of the Holy Faith) and speak in heiroglyphics half the time (FGROW, DOT#, undercutter, frog angles, lead distance, bent stockrail, A&B blocks, cribbing, little "o" distance, bents, EE BR, spring line.....whut the?) ... But I suddenly get popular when they have to deal with a railroad because their project is "the most important ever" for a nanosecond.

Some of those account execs keep railroads alive....I don't see anybody trying to offend the beancounters, claim agents or attorneys...

(for that matter, I'm sure many of the high and mighty here have no true idea of what a surveyor does [there are 3 surveyors on Rushmore with that insignificant (?) "other guy"] besides look through an optical astronomy telescope (the damn recent History Channel docudrama on the Royal Gorge War left us in stitches . Telescopes are not vernier transits and wye/dumpy levels. Anything with tripod legs is a transit Laugh )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUFpuvh8tVw ABSOLUTE CRAP factually and visually...

Back off a little folks. think about it.

The original post is still good in trying to explain the different breed of cat.

 

Well, MC, if those types ever have to work with anything connected to a railroad, I'm sure you can explain matters to them in words of one syllable so they can comprehend what it is all about.

It's a shame that anyone can be so ignorant as to look at a transit and call it a "telescope."

Johnny

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Friday, August 04, 2017 6:07 PM

The part about new traveling fast got a chuckle from me. 

 

Many years ago on a WICT train to Chicago I finished the run and got cabbed to the hotel. 

We arrived at about 5 am , woke up about noonish , went outside of the hotel to smoke and promptly got arrested for robbing the gas station across the street from the hotel.

It didn't take long to get everything straightened out but.. By 9 pm when our train arrived in Fox Lake even the Metra car cleaners knew I got busted for armed robbery....

Of course every dispatcher, operator, train crew was on the radio asking how much the WICT was paying us..

 

Randy

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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, August 04, 2017 6:31 PM

There's an old blues song that goes like this and it's all that I know,

A railroad man will kill you if he can

and drink your blood like wine. 

Does anyone know the rest? I wish I could find out who did it. 

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, August 04, 2017 8:23 PM

Randy Stahl
The part about new traveling fast got a chuckle from me.

Telegraph, telephone, tellarailoader.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Friday, August 04, 2017 8:50 PM

BaltACD, that post was magnificent!

All the more reason to wave at a train's head-end crew when they pass.  Steam locomotives, cabooses, semaphores, position-light signals, all have passed, but the heroes are still out there.

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Saturday, August 05, 2017 1:13 AM

zugmann
Randy Stahl
The part about new traveling fast got a chuckle from me.

Telegraph, telephone, tellarailoader.

Several times I have seen jokes told at the home terminal arrive at the AFHT well before the person who told them.

Great post Balt, really sums up reality neatly.

And I will always consider the clerks, sectionmen and others to be railroaders.  It just wouldn't be a railroad without track, customers and (above all) paperwork. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by NKP guy on Saturday, August 05, 2017 8:03 AM

   Thanks, Balt, for the nice piece on railroaders.

   Not to put too fine a point on it, in my opinion the people who don't work on trains are "railroad employees" or "work for the railroad."  I had an uncle who worked in the NKP's real estate department; suffice it to say no one ever considered him a "railroader."

   "Railroaders" are, I think, just as Balt's essay described them: the guys who work on the trains, but the other folks are vital, too, of course.

   In that essay, Balt, I thought the most vivid paragraph was the part about engineers.  "We share the feeling of screaming through small towns in the middle of the night ringing our bells, belching black smoke and blowing our horns."  Great image!  Some engineers who roar through our town at those hours blow their horns for the crossing as if they realize thousands of people are trying to sleep; others seem to feel it their duty to make horn-blowing last as long as possible.

   In the middle of the night I love hearing fast-moving trains, operated by railroaders, blowing those horns and ringing those bells.  

   

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 05, 2017 8:35 AM

NKP guy
Some engineers who roar through our town blow at their hours for the crossing as if they realize thousands of people are trying to sleep; others seem to feel it their duty to make horn-blowing last as long as possible.

I blow in accordance to federal regulation.  If I hit someone and wasn't blowing the proper amount, then it's my ass on the line.  Can't be nice out here anymore.  It is what it is.  Heaven help you if you only blew for 13 seconds.

 

As for as the term "railroader":  I really don't care.  It's just a term.  Most of us are out here for a paycheck - not some higher calling*.  There's some 'railroaders' out there (and probably here, too) that wouldn't consider me a 'railroader' because I don't currently run road trains or stay in dirtbag motels.  I don't lose sleep over it. 

* I had a trainmaster that once said "brotherhood ends where the wallet begins".  I don't know if truer words were ever spoken.

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Posted by coborn35 on Saturday, August 05, 2017 9:55 AM

*Sigh* Yet another piece of work that reinforces the notion that the railroad only runs with engineers and conductors. Also, to whomever said clerks are not railroaders, what a foolish statement.

Mechanical Department  "No no that's fine shove that 20 pound set all around the yard... those shoes aren't hell and a half to change..."

The Missabe Road: Safety First

 

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 05, 2017 10:02 AM

What's a clerk?

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, August 05, 2017 10:09 AM

zugmann

What's a clerk?

 

It's those folk all bottled up in an office tower in Atlanta.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 05, 2017 10:11 AM

The magical people of RITland?

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Posted by DSchmitt on Saturday, August 05, 2017 10:27 AM

54light15

There's an old blues song that goes like this and it's all that I know,

A railroad man will kill you if he can

and drink your blood like wine. 

Does anyone know the rest? I wish I could find out who did it. 

 

https://genius.com/Dirk-powell-mole-in-the-ground-lyrics

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AwjzzuT0Rw Read the analysis of the song 

 

http://jkadcock.blogspot.com/2013/10/railroad-man-will-kill-you-when-he-can.html

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bascom_Lamar_Lunsford

 

https://www.loc.gov/folklife/LP/SongsandBalladsAFS_L21.pdf

 

 

 

 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, August 05, 2017 7:40 PM

Watched the You Tube video.

Wow.  Wasn't that a laugh riot?

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Saturday, August 05, 2017 7:52 PM

Balt and his words of wisdom with a few changes could also be applied to the OTR industry.  Think about it many of them are gone from their homes for weeks sometimes months at a time sleeping in a different state each night eating who knows what from where loading up all over the place going to customers that may or may not give a crap if they even have access to a restroom.  Yes that one happens more often than you realize still.  They deal with weather extremes from -40 below in North Dakota with -80 below windchill to 120 degrees in the shade in the deserts across AZ in the summer.  Yet they do it for the most part hidden no one knows who they are unless they screw up and someone gets hurt in an accident then everything they have ever done is put under the microscope for all to see and they all pray this prayer Lord please help me get thru this day safe and may all those that I interact with on the road also be safe around me in their actions. 

 

That prayer was recited to me by my husband and several of my drivers over the last year.  Why they all know that dreaded feeling of having been in the worst accident anyone can be in were someone you were involved in with died.  Just remember while they are not railroaders they also have extreme responiblities they carry on their shoulders ever single day.  In a train your interaction with traffic is limited they are surrounded by it all day.  Their jobsite aka their truck outweighs the normal car 20 to 1 when fully loaded and takes 3 times the length to stop.  So please if you can remind your loved ones to please give them room on the roads they are mostly family men and women all doing the same thing your doing a job to support their familes.  Sorry just a few words from a trucking company worker that is married to a now disabled driver from an accident.

 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, August 05, 2017 11:01 PM

zugmann
* I had a trainmaster that once said "brotherhood ends where the wallet begins".  I don't know if truer words were ever spoken.

My Dad (who worked for the Mopac as a chief clerk) had an expression, "There is NO unselfish motive." Even Mother Teresa gets satisfaction from her choices. We choose our occupations and if it gets too unsatisfying, we quit. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Saturday, August 05, 2017 11:39 PM

NKP Guy = May I introduce you to DiningCar (REAL railroader and a R/W Agent)

Railroad or not, if you're not really into the job and learning your profession/craft, you had best not tangle with me. In recent history, I've more than annoyed several attorneys, a utility land agent, title companies and other surveyors and engineers because I didn't buy the baloney they were spouting about railroad R/W.(Guessing and/or accepting hearsay is a pretty weak excuse) A couple of our railroad clients have discovered that they unintentionally have become owners of half of houses [In one recent case 2 1/2 houses] and commercial buildings because somebody was to cheap to pay for a proper survey or dealt with a fly-by-night title company. (scary how common this is getting to be)

Concept being: It takes all kinds to make a large organization function well. Hopefully those folks are all into what they're doing.

 

 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, August 06, 2017 5:10 AM

MC,

Farnsworth?

Norm


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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, August 06, 2017 10:59 AM

Present day, yes. (oh, farnsbark!)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by NKP guy on Sunday, August 06, 2017 12:38 PM

   mudchicken:  I appreciate your railroad real estate comments, especially the foul-ups resulting from a lack of good surveying.

   When my neighbor sold his house next door (our houses date from about 1885), he found out from the surveyors that his house was on my land by 7", but Ohio has a law that after X number of years such an arrangement or situation is legal and doesn't have to be undone; it's never been a problem for me.

   My Uncle Bob, who worked in NKP's real estate department, is responsible in a way for my interest in that great railroad.  In 1951 he alerted my parents, who were renters, that the NKP was going to sell several houses next to its RoW in East Cleveland.  Although it was wrong, he told my parents how much to bid!  Guess what?  Dad & mom became first time homeowners by buying a (run-down) house for $4,000 cash.  In 1960 they sold the place (much improved) for $12,000.  Thanks to Uncle Bob and the Nickel Plate, dad & mom never had a mortgage on that or any other house.  You can guess what a financial blessing that turned out to be for our family then and since.

   As I indicated earlier, no one would ever have mistaken Uncle Bob for a railroader (at least by my definition), but he enjoyed working downtown for the NKP; it was in his house that I first saw and picked up Taylor Hampton's book on the Nickel Plate, and thanks to him my bedroom window was level with a Berkshire cab for nine years of fantastic train-watching.  

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Posted by diningcar on Sunday, August 06, 2017 3:23 PM

NKP guy, 

My career RR experience prior to becoming Right of Way Agent was 20 years in the Engineering Dept. working on an Operating Division, building 79 miles of new RR and then working for the Chief Engineer in Corporate Hqs. From that I had learned what ROW requirements a Railroad needed to operate in the ever changing world of transportation developement like TOFC and COFC or hauling new automobiles. I began as ROW Agent with the task of acquiring the property needed for two new yards that would service a new huge manufacturing plant.

So yes I had to know how railroaders worked and what "your railroaders" must have to do their work efficiently and safely. I indeed understood what happened when trains operated both in yards and on the operating lines; plus the ever present problems my company had with its existing property as times changed.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, August 06, 2017 5:52 PM

mudchicken

Present day, yes. (oh, farnsbark!)

MC,

I will not divluge the detailis. Just call me " Lt. Columbo". My deputy buddies say I am a good detectiive. LOL.

 

Norm


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