Railroad giants of times past

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Sunday, January 18, 2015

What an outpouring of great ideas to my plea (see Tell Me What to Write . . . Please!). In less than two days I've gotten 51 responses. Almost all your ideas are good, many are very good. Some are so damn good I've already written about them. Others are good but are better suited for multi-page feature stories that cannot be written on the fly. Rather, what I need to produce is a 950-wood essay that is my monthly column.

So the time comes to choose, and it is in the direction of Jeffrey Blackwood that I bow. Jeffrey wrote: "We are living in an era that Barriger, Langdon, Perlman and Bronsan dreamed about and worked for. Even though they were constrained by a regulated environment, these men showed us the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews). What would they say about the state of the industry now and those who lead it? Who are their 21st Century successors?" But Jeffrey, I would alter your second question in this manner: How would these men fare in today's railroad world? Are great leaders great in their era and time only, or in any railroad environment? Let me go to work on this.

As for you, Jeffrey, you get a one-year subscription to THE Magazine of Railroading, in your name, that of a friend or as an extension of an existing subscription. Contact me at so we can work this out.

And the rest of you, thank you so much. Meanwhile, what are YOUR thoughts on the railroad leaders of a half century ago? What would they say about the evolution of the industry, and would they find a home in today's railroad world?--Fred W. Frailey

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