Category Archives: Entertainment

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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
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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 legaciesontherails@gmail.com 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. http://nycswiftstream.com/ .
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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. https://archive.org/details/GreenValleyLine . 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: http://www.midamericatrainandtoyshow.com/
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!
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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 WordPress.com 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.)

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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:
https://www.aar.org/. 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.

Railroad.net has a chat forum on The Railroad Hour. Martin Grams has written a book on it that can be found at his official website http://martingrams.biz/books-2/the-railroad-hour/ .The Modesto Radio Museum in Modesto,California‘s site has an article about it:
http://www.modestoradiomuseum.org/railroad%20hour.html . The O Gauge Railroading Online Forum has some postings about it. http://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/old-time-radio-the-railroad-hour-1 .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

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The Missouri, Kansas, Texas Railroad Transfer Caboose #5  M930 that runs on the Midland Railway in Baldwin City, Kansas https://www.midlandrailway.org/ 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: http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/Bluford-Shops-HO-Transfer-Caboose-MKT-p/blu-35050.htm
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!