Monthly Archives: March 2017

Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten: Conducting Family Legacies…On The Rails!

Legacies…On The Rails Volume 17-011

Welcome back to another 2017 Blog Edition Of Legacies…On The Rails! Today, I have another awesome family story to share and want to thank my new friend Lee Witten that I just connected with via You Tube this week, for graciously allowing us to share in his Father’s Legacies…On The Rails and for his expedient response to my inquiry as I send out nearly daily invites via Facebook, Linked-In, You-Tube, Twitter and more and sadly only a few respond here and there, but I figure those that the Lord wants to have the stories shared of, he will prompt the right folks to respond, so I’m ok with that.

So, I won’t waste any more time but let me introduce you to Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten:


Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten, was a Union Pacific Railroad Employee for 30 years. He was born in Ogden, Utah, June 5, 1914 and became a Union Pacific Brakeman on the Wyoming Division, 8th subdivision on August 14, 1936. He made Conductor on November 10, 1943. He was 19th in seniority at the time of his death October 15, 1974.

I had inherited his final Freight Conductors Train Book covering the 6 month period of April 17 to October 14, 1974.


Seeing that it contained specific data for each trip, I decided to do an interpretation of these last 6 months by transcribing the information into a computer data base and augmenting with what supplemental material that related to this time period as a snapshot of his career on the railroad. I have endeavored to find as many photographs of the cabooses he worked on as well as the head end power on each trip.

The locomotive and caboose numbers were critical in identifying the type of locomotives and cabooses on each trip. By researching books, railroad museum archives and the internet, I was able to find many of them though not all. However, there is enough representatives to give a good idea of their physical appearance.

A copy of this material has been donated to the Utah State Railroad Museum archives so that future generations can have a record of the work of a railroad trainman during the era just prior to the end of the use of cabooses on major railroads.

In 1945 a Union Pacific photo journalist did a story about a day in the life of an engineer named E. H. Cook. Dad happened to be part of the story as Cooks Conductor. Two photos included dad as seen here giving engineer Cook his orders in front of Big Boy #4020 and with his brakeman on the caboose leaving the Riverdale Yard for Green River, Wyoming.


After my fathers death, my mother passed on to me his final Conductors log book, one of the few pieces of memorabilia that she had. I was given his last railroad pocket watch as well.

I didnt understand some of the data such as the codes for the train types, but other railroaders at the museum including a fellow who actually worked with dad, filled me in. One thing led to another and I began to create a computer database of the information in his log book.

From the caboose and locomotive numbers I searched through our library and the internet trying to find photos to include in my computer transcriptions. Then I found ARCHES, an organization devoted just to cabooses! I quickly joined up and received the Captive Cabeese publication. What a great resource to help me locate any still existing cabeesethat dad had worked on during those last 6 months of his life. Then Don Strack came out with his book on The Union Pacific Caboose and I gleaned more information including a few photos.

In the summer of 2003 I was able to visit 3 of dads former cabooses. I visited two places in the Midwest that were identified as having a caboose with my dads numbers. The first was in Falls City Nebraska. Ive never been there before so I stopped at the town hall and found a local Policeman in the hallway who told me he thought the caboose I was looking for was down by the old UP Depot on the edge of town.

I followed his directions and there it was, UP #25241 sitting on a section of display track coupled to an old flat car and box car next to the depot. The windows were boarded up, paint was peeling, rust was building up but it was still intact. Dad worked on this caboose June 18, 1974 on an east bound trip to Greenriver, 61 car Los Angeles Extra (LAX) train pulled by two UP Centennials, 6927 and 6909 with an EMD DD35B unit.

The disappointment of that experience was soon changed to elation when I reached Abilene, Kansas and found UP #25466 still in operation on the Abilene And Smokey Valley Railroad, a little tourist line that runs out of Abiliene about 10 miles.


I arrived at 10 minutes to 3 and went into their little ticket/gift office in a converted box car and introduced myself. What makes this caboose extra special is that it was the last one that dad rode, October 14, 1974 and he died October 15. The train was a 63 car Los Angeles Forwarded (LAF) westbound Greenriver to Salt Lake. Head end power were two SD40s, a DD35B unit and a GP30. At Curvo they had an air hose break between cars #31 and 32 at 3:45 a.m.and were back up running at 4:10 a.m.

I showed the crew the binder with all the information Ive been compiling and the last entry with UP #25466. They seemed very pleased about this bit of history of their caboose and I was given a ride on it for their 3 p.m. run.


The emotion of being in that caboose overwhelmed me for awhile. I had a few private moments inside to collect myself then enjoyed the ride sitting up in the cupola with the conductor and trading stories. He was a retired school teacher so we had even more in common to chat about. On the way back they let me ride in the cab of their Alco S1 locomotive.


Finally on June 28, 2004 my mother and I drove the 200 plus miles from Ogden to the West Central Utah town of Lynndyl where I believed we would find UP #25280. Lynndyl is a little railroad town on Union Pacifics Los Angeles Line. We had no trouble finding the town park where UP #25280 sat next to a children’s playground.


Dad rode UP #25280 on June 5, 1974, Salt Lake City to Greenriver. The train was an ore drag with 102 cars. There were 5 SD40s on the head end.

We took some photos and found that the door had been broken open so went inside and looked around. There was some grafitti here and there but it was in pretty good shape. im worried that its not being well taken care of and just eroding away.

Here is a narrative that can be derived from the information on the log sheet to the left.

June 1, 1974, Eastbound


Joe reported for work at 3:50 a.m at the Salt Lake City Office. Picked up train LAD 31, Los Angeles to Denver. Left the station at 6:20 a.m.. Engineer was F. Hicks, Head Brakeman Regnier and Rear Brakeman, Stamey. There was no Fireman. Lead locomotive was a DDA40X #6930 Centennial. There was one second unit, Centennial #6938.

The train had 21 loaded and 35 empty cars for a total tonnage of 2830. In North Salt Lake they picked up 17 cattle cars at 952 tons at 6:25 a.m. In Ogden they picked up 18 loaded, 20 empty cars for 2247 tons between 7:20 and 9:35 a.m. At Mile Post 888 there was an air hose problem on the 49th head car RBCS 2666 X box car for Golden, Colorado. Time to repair air hose from 12:45 to 1:15 P.M. Arrived Green River at 2:35 p.m. with 55 loaded and 53 empties with total
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this trip back in time with Lee Witten‘s Dad Union Pacific Conductor Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten as much as I enjoyed being honored with the humble privilege of receiving it from Lee and sharing it with you!
Got a story of your own, or one of a loved one like this that you would like shared here on Legacies…On The Rails? Email me at and I’ll be sure to share it with all the rest of your railroad family around the world!
Today’s Railroad Equipment Profile goes to this New York Central Railroad Swift Stream car that I recently caught at the Kansas City Union Station. As you know, the New York Central Railroad is one of the most recognized and iconic railroads in history, usually in direct competition with the Pennsylvania Railroad. This post World War II model is one of an 11 car order that he NYC got from The Budd Company in 1949. But instead of indulging in too much info myself, I am going to invite you to visit this fellow WordPress Rail Blogger‘s page which at this time appears to be the most definitive source of information out there on these fabulous cars. .
For today’s Railroad Old Time Radio Feature, instead of just a solo episode, I am choosing to invite you to visit the page the features all 26 Episodes of 1930’s broadcasts of The Green Valley Line. . I’m having trouble getting You Tube Videos to post correctly, so going to forego our ending theme song and a You Tube Video the Green Valley Line I wanted to share.
But want to remind you that the most important pursuit in your life each day should be staying faithful to a walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. I finished the book of John yesterday for 2017 (reading New Testament books in reverse order) and started Luke today so I’m right in the thick of the story of John The Baptist‘s ministry, Christ‘s birth and the start of His ministry. I try to read through scripture cover to cover or find devotionals to go through for half the year, then start reading as many scripture books as the rest of the year allows and it never gets old. There will always be something new for you to learn and grow from no matter how many times in your life you read it on your own, or in church, group Bible studies, etc.
I have a weekend all to myself this week and plan to do lots of rail-fanning in it and look forward to sharing what happens in our next visit!
Well, this Sunday is the 1st of the three yearly times that the Mid America Train & Toy Show comes to the KCI Expo Center here in Kansas City, and I’ll be there, looking for good buys, covering it for the blog, recording some podcast material, and hopefully seeing some of you. Here is the link:
As always, this is John Losh, “The Losh-Man“, “Mr Legacies…On The Rails” saying may God bless and keep you and those you love until next time, and if I don’t see you here, if I don’t see you there, I hope one day I’ll see you In The Air!

The Railroad Hour Takes Us Back In Time

Welcome One, Welcome All! My goodness, 10 Legacies…On The Rails postings already here in 2017 compared to only 4 for the whole year of 2016? Getcha’ Some O’ That! I am planning, likely next week to start updating some of my other blog sites here on including Sports…Live With The Losh-Man and Cool Cars USA! Since I now have an hour to kill between the time I get off on weekday afternoons and the time I walk the half a block to the garage my wife and I park her car in as we work directly across the street from each other, it should be easy to rotate blogs on a daily or every few days basis! I even have some other blog ideas in mind, but I won’t spoil the surprise, oh no, you will simply have to wait and see!

So, in my last posting, I started featuring episodes of Railroad Related Old Time Radio. Well, what we are going to discuss today was not as much radio related except for its name and who its sponsor was, but I still think even with those two things alone, and the fact that it is still Old Time Radio, one of my favorite forms of entertainment (especially if I need something soothing on those nights I may have trouble falling or getting back to sleep, or something soothing to work by.)


It’s The Railroad Hour. You can still find the 104 Episodes by checking out the link

The Railroad Hour was sponsored by the Association of American Railroads. See it at: The association was founded October 10th, 1934 (another great connection for me as my only sibling, my Sister was born in October.) and is still in existence today, headquartered in Washington, DC, which is also where my firstborn, my Son John works: not for the AAR, but in Washington DC.

The Railroad Hour first ran on CBS starting (you guessed it, October 4th,1948) with Marvin Miller as the Announcer, Warren Barker as Chief Engineer and Gordon Macrae starring in what was billed as the World’s Greatest Musical Comedies along with a host of many other well known stars of the period. It was later reduced to 30 minutes on 04/25/1949 and it continued until 09/26/1949. It was later moved to NBC on 10/3/1949 where it ran until 6/21/1954. On both CBS and NBC it had been a Monday evening headliner, from 8pm Eastern/7pm Central time.

The Railroad Hour’s theme song was :”I’ve Been Working On The Railroad“, the ever popular American folk song first published as “The Levee Song” in Calmina Princetonia an 1894 book of Princeton University songs. The song’s earliest recording was by Sandhills Sixteen by Victor Records in 1927. has a chat forum on The Railroad Hour. Martin Grams has written a book on it that can be found at his official website .The Modesto Radio Museum in Modesto,California‘s site has an article about it: . The O Gauge Railroading Online Forum has some postings about it. .Ebay offers all the episodes on an MP3 DVD. 104 or more of the episodes can be found on You Tube. Many, if not all the episodes are available from Amazon.

Altogether, what you have here between all these is enough to keep any Railfan, Old Time Radio Fan (or maybe you are both) entertained for many, many hours!

And, don’t forget to check out my many Railroad related Facebook Communities:

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (Burlington Route)

Railroad Bridges, Related Photos & Video

Fans Of The Kansas City Terminal Railway

Rail Box Freight Car Fans

Union Pacific Flag Units

Railroad Auto Racks

The Wabash Cannonball

Caterpillar Train Collectors

I continue to invite my many railfan buddies on Facebook to post their pics and videos on these pages, so I am issuing the same invitation to you. I also search You Tube on a regular basis, copying and pasting links to those videos that qualify on these pages. I always of course, let those who took the videos know that I am sharing their work on the pages as well. Stay tuned for more pages to be created in the future!

Oh, this weekend I am actually getting an 8X8 HO Scale layout. I am buying it from my longtime friend, brother in Christ and up the street neighbor Will James. He has had it a few years but never did anything with it, so I get to take a shot at it. I admit I have zero clue what I am doing, but have some folks I can likely call for help. I will post pics next time and keep you posted. But in the interim, here is a video of it that I took when he first got it:

This Edition’s Railroad Equipment Profile is


The Missouri, Kansas, Texas Railroad Transfer Caboose #5  M930 that runs on the Midland Railway in Baldwin City, Kansas that my girls and I rode last Fall. I just now found am HO Scale version of it with Bluford Shops that I eventually HAVE to have. I don’t find equipment I have either  photographed, had in my videos or even been on, at such a reasonable price. Check out the following link at:
But I hope that the most important thing in your life remains pursuing a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He has been and will always be the only way to have a secure eternity. John 14:6 says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” If you have not accepted Him as your personal Lord & Savior, don’t let this train leave the station without you! He is the only way to truly stay “on track”!

Until next time, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails! And if I don’t see you out railfanning, if I don’t see you here, I hope I will see you….In The Air!

Revisiting History: Trains Of The Civil War

Welcome back to Legacies…On The Rails! This is my 9th installment for 2017 as we keep rolling down the tracks toward Spring! Today, we will be discussing trains and railroads of the American Civil War. First let me say that these days, I know some find it offensive to discuss any part of our nation’s history that they find suddenly uncomfortable. Well, I find that fact offensive because those who deny, try to blot out or do not understand or learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I will not apologize for visiting this topic and as a matter of a fact, the phrase I personally coined some time ago is: If you don’t understand where you’ve been, you do not truly understand where you are, or where you are going, or why.

I will never dishonor the memory of my ancestors (or yours) that put themselves in harm’s way or even lost their lives generally serving in our armed forces or fighting in any of the battles that have made our nation what it is, by avoiding study of, or discussion of these periods.Denial cannot erase historical facts. I actually make it a daily point to go out of my way to approach and thank any of our active duty military or those wearing their Veteran caps, jackets, etc. Have you thanked a Veteran today? The freedoms we enjoy as Americans are not free. I love the saying these days that only two have offered, or died for you, Jesus Christ, and our American Military! May God continue to bless and keep our Heroes! And though it may be your “right”, those who are choosing not to stand for the presentation of our Nation’s Flag and the National Anthem……you are dishonoring those who have or are currently fighting for your protection, and spitting on the graves of those that have died fighting for you. You disgust me!

Some do not realize just how vital the railroads were in the tumultuous years of the Civil War. Not only in the transportation of men and goods, but in the eventual defeat of the South. The Confederacy simply did not have the financial or material means to adequately maintain the railroads in their area. They only controlled 9,000 miles of trackage, while the North controlled 20,000 miles.

It also did not help that Northern troops were in the regular habit of burning or otherwise destroying rail bridges, (which, though I certainly do not condone slavery then or now, and understand the necessity, as the creator of the Facebook page Railroad Bridges, Related Photos & Video is kind of sad for me to think about). They were also in the habit of pulling up tracks, heating them until they would bend and tying them around trees, creating what was known as “Sherman’s Neckties“. The Union blockades of sea routes also kept the South from being able to obtain vital supplies to maintain the railroads. This all combined to keep Confederates from being able to ship their cotton crop, so they could not woo the help of European nations.

Unemployment rose in southern states as they had to let go of so many railroad workers. Confederates also usually destroyed as much of a town’s rail equipment as possible before retreats were done. I was actually shocked to see that in the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederacy actually controlled 135 railroads. But also in the beginning, in both southern and northern areas, most railroads were short lines that did not connect with continuing tracks, which made truly long distance rail transport difficult.

The Civil War was also the first time that a train mounted gun was ever created and employed, and the first time that train cars were used as makeshift hospitals. Both would continue into the two World Wars.

But fortunately for both sides, though the Confederacy still eventually fell, with the decline of their railroads playing such a huge role, in 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Pacific Railway Act, authorizing construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. The Union Pacific built west from Omaha, Nebraska and the Central Pacific Railroad built East from Sacramento, California. The finalization of the Transcontinental Railroad was culminated with a ceremony on May 10th, 1869 as the two lines met in the
city of Promontory, Utah. When President Lincoln drove the Golden Spike to complete the line, it was attached to a telegraph wire that sent the news from coast to coast. It was the spike that was heard around the world. Four more transcontinental roads and 174 million acres for them eventually came to be authorized as well.

Here are a couple of my current reads on this subject at the moment. Nothing Like It In The World: The Men Who Built The Transcontinental Railroad on Amazon at: and The Union Pacific: Birth Of A Railroad check it out at the link: .

Probably the most famous American Civil War related railroad story is that of the theft by Union Soldiers and Civilian Scout James J Andrews in Northern Georgia April 12, 1862 of the steam 4-4-0 locomotive known as The General. It was built by Rogers, Ketchum & Grovesner in New Jersey. Part of my personal railroads collection are items related to The General. I have also been to the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, Missouri (Disney was a huge railfan) and even have friends that are from Marceline. and other friends that have worked the railroads that pass through it. There is a room in the museum almost entirely dedicated the Disney movie The Great Locomotive Chase. I also just purchased the movie on my Google Play Movies collection.

Here is a song about the chase by Robert W Smith that I also found on You Tube:

While the Disney film that starred Fess Parker (Davey Crockett) and Jeffrey Hunter who was the Captain Christopher Pike in the very first Star Trek Pilot: The Cage, was released June 8th, 1956 (cool for me as both my Mother Maureen Losh and my Son John W Losh III were both born in June), there was an earlier version called The General that starred Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, that was released February 5th, 1927 (again cool for me, I was born in February).

I thought of posting the entire lists, but instead I am going to encourage you to do searches on Railroads Of The Civil War as well as books on the same.

I may do a later blog expanding further on this topic but I think we are off to a good start here. Hope you have enjoyed these beginning tidbits of info, and the videos I found and shared about Trains Of The Civil War.

I am going to start a couple new features that will continue from here on in the Legacies…On The Rails Blog and maybe even the Podcast.

The first is a Railroad Equipment Profile. In this feature, I will share pics I have taken of locomotives, freight cars, grain cars, tankers, cabooses, etc and their origins.


This first installment Of my new Railroad Equipment Profile features the Dome Car Prairie View (Great Northern Railroad Empire Builder #1394 that I recently caught at the Kansas City Union Station. The following information on it’s credit goes to

Prairie View” – to BN 3/70 (same number), to Amtrak 9364. Was eventually used as an Amtrak parts car and was sold 5/93 as a shell (less trucks) to the BN. Stored Springfield MO (ex Frisco shops) until sold 1994 to Holland America Westours. After putting over $1m into it, car is now in service in Alaska. It carries the name “Deshka” and entered service in 1997. In 2003 Westours put all but 3 of their Budd domes up for sale as `”excess”. They kept 1394 because it required no coupler pocket modifications for the new Colorado Railcar domes and it has Budd braked trucks (from under one of the two 1956 Budd built Santa Fe business cars that were retrucked with 4 wheel trucks in 1989). Car transferred late 2004 to a new division called Alaska Rail Tours (defunct) with the other retained cars to begin service in 2005 in a non “cruise ship” travel/tour operation in Alaska. Sold 10/09 to Iowa Pacific/San Luis & Rio Grande. Renamed back to original “Prairie View”.

The Second is Railroad Old Time Radio. Anyone that knows me knows that I love old movies, old TV shows, and the radio versions of many of them. We will begin with Episode 17 of Gunsmoke. Set in Dodge City, Kansas, it was billed as the first adult western, and its radio show that starred William Conrad as Marshall Matt Dillon first aired on CBS on April 26th, 1952. (Again, cool for me as both the first date Anniversary and Wedding Anniversary for my wife Denise and I are both in late April (25th/28th respectively). This episode aired September 27th, 1952. My daughter Cara Losh was also born on a much later September 27th. I am loving these connections as I am not a believer in coincidence! Hope you enjoy it. We may start sharing Railroad Movies as well (which I kind of already did by sharing The General with Buster Keaton above.)

Thanks again for joining me! until next time, I want to again encourage you to accept the free gift of Salvation and forgiveness that the Lord Jesus Christ offers you and to follow Him each day of your life. My reading this morning with breakfast was in Romans 9-12 and the verses that stood out to me were Romans 10: 14,15 (NKJV from Bible Gateway)

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Well, if I don’t see you down the rail line, if I don’t see you here, I pray I’ll see you In The Air!

Railfan Focus: Jim Matuska: Capturing The Railroad Passion on Canvas

Welcome back! This is my 8th Edition of Legacies…On The Rails for 2017 and my 35th overall which I am very happy about as I was disappointed in only having done 8 last year!

I have another treat for you today as I have been given the privilege of sharing the story of my good friend, Facebook Friend, Brother in Christ and fellow passionate railfan, Jim Matuska! There is not a day that I don’t scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook looking to enjoy the latest railfan pics, or latest railroad artwork from Jim! We also share common ground in our health situation, and enjoying tracking our steps as part of staying healthy.

So, I will let Jim take it from here. I know you will enjoy his story as much as I have, especially since it starts out with the railroad my Grandpa John Losh and his brother Leonard Losh worked for, so it is my first favorite out of all those I have family connections to!

My passion for trains started back in the early 1960’s when my Dad held me up to the window as the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Town Job would rumble by our house on the south side of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The train usually had one SW1 Switcher and as many as twenty cars for the industries along this spur line. It ran from the CB&Q’s north La Crosse yard to CTC Herrington, which was located in the southeastern part of town. As time passed, I became friends with all the crew members on this switch job, so much so, they stopped the train and let me board the wooden CB&Q way car. I rode along as they performed their duties at the local industries. More time passed and soon I was assisting in the switch moves themselves, under the watchful eye of the Town Job’s conductor.  These experiences meant more to me than anyone could know, a young kid that liked trains, running an SW1, blowing that Blat single chime horn and ringing the bell, I was hooked for a lifetime.

This particular crew enjoyed the fruits of my Mother’s labor as I traded homemade strawberry jam for fusees and railroad chalk.  Imagine my Dad’s dismay, when he wanted fresh jelly on warm toast and all he found was a bunch of chalk and fusees! Soon enough school took me away from the Town Job and the crews retired or took different jobs, so I peddled my bike to the Northside to sit and watch the trains in and around Grand Crossing.  I hung around the now Burlington Northern roundhouse and took many photos at the time. I wish I knew now what I didn’t know then about all that first generation power, the pool power, and the different paint schemes, and so on. More time passed and I now traded my bicycle for a car and set my sights on the Grand Crossing interlocking tower; where the Milwaukee Road’s double track crossed the BN’s single track at grade with all the operations being controlled by the man in the tower.  Soon enough I was throwing the levers and bending the iron and the tower man was handling the radio work, talking to the trains and dispatchers. I was hanging orders for the Milwaukee Road trains and hooping up orders to the Chicago & North Western trains that ran between Winona and Tunnel City on the Milwaukee Road. If there were issues with the interlocking, I would walk the intended route and flag the train through, two short whistle blasts told me they saw me and they were moving. What a life for a kid that loved trains, the working man and the railroads.

I took a Watercolor class and as the teacher painted flowers, I was painting diesels.

During High School, I was in the Boy Scouts and completed my Eagle Scout where you have the opportunity the spend a day with an employer of your choice, I chose the Burlington-Northern Railroad. The Boy Scouts set me up with the Road Master of Engineers and Firemen based in La Crosse. He had arranged for me to take a train from La Crosse to Prairie Du Chein and back. After introducing me to the crew, I was sat down at the controls of two SD40-2s and 120 cars and proceeded to run it to Prairie Du Chein. What a thrill! The train I was supposed to bring back was late so I had to ride in the Road Foreman’s car back to La Crosse, I really didn’t care I was in heaven! After High School I worked various odd jobs and then I received the call of a lifetime, the BN called and offered me a job as a Brakeman and the same day Dairyland Power Cooperative called and offered me a position within the utility. Talk about a difficult choice. Soon I was working in the Transmission Engineering area of Dairyland Power, enjoying the trains in the Grand Crossing Tower on the weeknights and weekends, I had the best of both worlds!

All good things slowly come to a close, the Towerman I shared my time with retired and the now Soo Line closed the Tower. It was moved to Copeland Park next the CB&Q Steam Locomotive #4000, the Aeolus, Keeper of the Winds, and a wooden Milwaukee Road caboose. While at the power utility, I used my free time to draw trains in both pencil and ink. It was then I tried my first watercolor, but decided to stick with black and white artwork for a while. I drew up a set of seven pen & ink scenes and these were so well received, I did another set of three and started the model train show scene. Soon I tried watercolors again, it wasn’t pretty. I took a watercolor class and as the teacher painted flowers, I was painting diesels. There have been so many changes in the railroad scene in the last 40 years. This explains why I paint what I do: the history, what once was common, the railroads before the mega-mergers, the depots before they were torn down, steam before diesel, and diesels that were unique all to their own.

I accept all commission work if someone has a particular scene or railroad they are fond of and would like to see as a piece of quality art that makes any railroaders or railfan’s day. I have done many retirement paintings featuring the railroad where the retiree started with, and their name on a station sign somewhere in the painting itself. Almost all of my artwork can be seen on Facebook under Matuska RailArt page, feel free to stop by and take a look, I’ve also painted trucks, cars and vintage WWII Aircraft as well.

About the Author Jim Matuska

I’ve lived in La Crosse,Wisconsin all my life and recently retired after 39 years in the Civil Engineering field, which gave me my eye for details that cover many steam and diesel locomotives. My wife, Dorothy works at a local Bank and my son, Andrew, is a Locomotive Engineer for the BNSF Railway based out of La Crosse. I’ve always thought that Andrew is living out my dreams, but I have the memories. My artwork is all original, and I don’t make prints of my work because I want the person who purchases an original to have “the original”, not a copy. I paint what I feel unless it’s a commission where then I’ll do what I am asked. I like to paint the diesels and steam locomotives of the older Fallen Flag Railroads the best as they seem to bring back the best memories. I paint on 300# Paper which stands up quite well to watercolors and depending if I use hot or cold pressed paper, the desired effect of the colors being put down.

Here is some of Jim Matuska‘s artwork for you to enjoy. God has truly gifted him as an artist, and I’m sure I speak for all railfans in saying we are thrilled that he uses that gift to capture the history, the spirit and the passion that is railroading!  I also want to express my deepest gratitude to my dear friend, for allowing me to share his story here on Legacies…On The Rails! I’m honored and humbled! Please go check out the Matuska Railart page on Facebook, send Jim a Friend Request, and maybe have him commission some artwork for you. And as I’m famous for saying (because I truly believe it), You’ll be glad ya’ did!


As always, this is John LoshThe Losh-Man” reminding you that today is the day of Salvation! Jesus Christ gave His life for you on the cross of Calvary so that all of us can be forgiven of our sins and spend a wonderful eternity with Him in Heaven. But you aren’t born with it. We are all born in sin, in need of a Savior and though the gift is free, we must ask for it. We must ask Christ to come into our hearts and let Him be the Lord of our lives.

Revelation 3:20 says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock (He won’t force His way in, but He loves you and wants to be in your life). If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will (it’s a promise) come into him and dine with him and he with Me.”

So, accept His gift if you haven’t already, follow Him each day of your life through His word, prayer and a solid, uncompromisingly Bible believing, Bible preaching, Christ exalting church, and when it comes to trains and everything that is railroading, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails! God Bless, and if I don’t see you at the railyard, if I don’t see you here…I hope Jim Matuska and I will see you In The Air!