The CB & Q Railroad in McCook, 1958

Friday, September 25, 2015

In 1958, my Dad was working for Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, driving our only car to work from Indianola to the railyards in McCook. When the rare occasion arose that mom needed the car, we would drive him to work in McCook and then go back home.

During this time, Jack Troxell was the signal department supervisor; Charles Rees was in charge of car distribution; James Mulder was the trainmaster; Harry Harris the wire chief and Merle Wallace, storekeeper for the storehouse. The McCook men I remember in train service include Chick and Ray Huffman, Joe Horacek, Bob Hassler, Homer Fisher, Neal Fidler, Russ Dowling, Con Eckhart, Adam Baker, Tore Axelson, Bill Abernathy, Dana Wilson, Del Olsson, Sonny Hughes, Charlie Koler and many, many more whose names elude me at the moment.

Most of the time, I knew only the men, not their families, and that was due to Union business (dad was an officer in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers) or from our special trips to the Elks Club for Sunday dinners. Homer is forever etched in my mind as the man who came down to our acreage to show my dad how to use a gas powered lawn mower and ended up cutting his fingertips reaching into the grass catcher chute. Lesson learned since I was standing there watching as it happened. Charlie Koler built doll furniture for me, a cupboard, bed and bed stand. Several had children my age but for the most part, since children were supposed to be seen and not heard, I met few of them during my early years, getting to know the rest when we moved to McCook in 1965.

When mom kept the car, we would drive to McCook at whatever hour of the night dad was due to be back from his run. We would park and I would stand at the base of the footbridge waiting for him to come over from the round house. If it was a special night, we would cross the street to the Bus Café, owned and operated by Ray and Irene Gibson, and have a cinnamon roll before heading back home.

In those days there were few children who did not ride a train at least once during their childhood. One of our field trips for school at Indianola was getting on the "milk train" and riding to Cambridge for a day at their museum which boasted a two-headed calf! A second trip consisted of our getting on the passenger train traveling to Denver to see the Ice Capades and boarding the train back to McCook the same day! Back then the trains ran on time and you could truly set your watch by them! Today few children will ever ride a train. With the new rules on Amtrak and considering McCook's passenger train embarkment schedule, no minor under 16 will board solo at our terminal again.

The railroad ruled in those days and the men that worked it seemed to have common goals. Most had lived through at least part of the Depression and World War II. It was a generation of men that worked hard and played hard but it was also a generation of men that opened doors for women. They may have had the most colorful language amongst themselves but women and children were not party to hearing it. It was my father's generation and C B & Q Railroad was lucky to have them.

Southwest Nebraska Genealogy Society will have a booth in the park during Heritage Days, stop by and sign up for our free membership drawings. Three of those memberships will be for students! Our next meeting will be Saturday, Oct. 3, 110 West C, Suite M-3 at 1 p.m.

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