Tag Archives: KCI Expo Center

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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Kansas City Union Station Model Rail Experience Weekly Volume Three

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And, last but not least on this week’s agenda, last time I said we hoped to see you at the Mid-America Train And Toy Show at the KCI Expo Center. http://www.midamericatrainandtoyshow.com/ Though I hope you were able to make it, here is a short video and some pics from that.

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Well, that about wraps it up for this edition of Kansas City Union Station Model Rail Experience Weekly. I’ll see you next time, hoping that you come pay Union Station and the Model Rail Experience a visit soon, and keep coming back. It promises to be a great time for the whole family!

I’m John Losh, reminding you to keep leaving Legacies……….On The Rails!

Kansas City Union Station Model Rail Experience Weekly Volume Two

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Welcome back as we head into Kansas City Union Station Model Rail Experience Weekly Volume Two! This edition is for the week concluding on 2/28/15. I hope that since my last posting you have had the opportunity to take your family to visit all the great family activities that your Kansas City Union Station has to offer, including the Model Rail Experience! We are now proud to announce that  Discover Vintage America Magazine‘s March Edition is out and features a tow page spread on pages 14 and 15 that covers in great detail the history of the model railroading hobby as well as how Union Station has evolved to include the Model Rail Experience. You can get copies at your local antique malls, flea markets and more or view it online at http://www.discoverypub.com/feature/index.html . We at the Model Rail Experience would like to express our sincere appreciation to Larry Elmore and Discover Vintage America for doing this wonderful feature! Here is the photo of some of the MRE crew that was featured in the article.

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You hopefully know me well enough by now to know how I started off my day at Union Station last Friday. Looking for the opportunity to get pictures and video of real trains. And, as usual, I was not  disappointed as I got my first Amtrak pics since Locomotive #180 was idling on the tracks by the back lot just waiting for me to share it with you and it wasn’t long before a Union Pacific manifest (guess I said BNSF in the video….my bad) came rumbling by. I wasn’t as close as I would have liked to have been for the video-was actually hoping to get it from the warmth of the Legacies On The Rails Cruiser that you see backed in during the video but I had just come from where you pay to park. Didn’t get all of the train because it was only 10 degrees, I had no gloves with me and my fingers could only take so much.

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I was pleased to discover when I arrived inside the Model Rail Experience that Louis Seibel had just brought in a cart full of boxes…….and boxes of model rail cars, locomotives, cabooses, scenery, tracks and more that had just been donated. Remember, everything at the MRE is by donation, and I’m told there is more to come from this same donor, so we were certainly grateful! Here are the guys beginning to look over it next to the Santa Fe mural painted by Teresa Keene (artshpgrl@yahoo.com) .

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Then, after our usual lunch at the Pierpont’s Restauarant http://www.pierponts.com/ where my favorite (as it is for several others  in the MRE crew) is the Train Burger (and if you come on Fridays it’s cookie day), and I discussed the recent Johnson County Home & Garden Show with Ted, we headed to the basement of Union Station to begin really going through these wares to figure out what there was and was not immediate need for, and what items the members of the crew may want to purchase of the excess for their personal collections (all funds going to the Model Rail Experience). I picked up some HO Scale pieces myself.

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Ok, so I want to focus on a couple of things this week. Last week we focused on the HO Scale Gauge trains. This time, we will focus on the Lionel O & S Scale layout. Then I will show some of my favorite pieces we have from the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

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Here is what we have hanging on the wall near the Lionel O &S Scale layout, and an overall view of said layout.

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Here are a couple of pics from the layout, starting with something I currently love to visit in real life, a caboose display. Then there is a caboose from Kansas City Southern that my wife’s paternal grandfather worked for, as did some of his sons, One of them is still in current service with KCS. The caboose bug recently bit me as I think they are cool and now that they are rarely ever used anymore and most are just on display here around KC, around Missouri and all over the country.

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Here are some KCS box cars that are part of the Lionel S & O Gauge layout, along with a replica of the exact cable car that is on display out in the back lot of Kansas City Union Station, where I take my pics and video both before and after I come work my volunteer hours at the Model Rail Experience. Here is something from the internet about  O Gauge trains. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_scale .

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Here are some of our Chicago, Burlington & Quincy pieces. I also hope that we will see some of you at the Mid America Train & Toy Show at the KCI Expo Center tomorrow. We will not have a table there but many of the Model Rail Experience staff attend the show, both to pick up items for our own personal collections, as well as to scout potential pieces for the MRE layouts. http://www.midamericatrainandtoyshow.com/ .

Until next time, go check out KC’s Union Station and the Model Rail Experience. I’m famous for saying this during times I’ve done part time radio in the past-You’ll be glad ya’ did! I’m John Losh, reminding you to keep leaving Legacies………………..On The Rails!

Mid-America Train & Toy Show A Triple Treat In Kansas City

Three times a year, model train and toy collectors, that include men women and children of all ages converge on Northland Kansas City’s KCI Expo Center http://www.kciexpo.com/
for the Mid-America Train & Toy Show  http://www.midamericatrainandtoyshow.com/ .  The 2014 dates included Sunday March 30th, Sunday August 10th and this past Sunday, November 30th. I was at the March 30th show and was excited to be back again this week.

The show is put on by Silver Zephyr Productions and is a five hour home to over 200 tables ranging from those buying, selling and trading model trains, individual train cars of all gauges and various toys to those with displays, hoping to attract members to their organizations, that sometimes include running train sets of various gauges. Kathy Stitch of Silver Zephyr told me that the approximately 17,500 square foot facility had about 250 tables this time.

I met up with Shane Mason of Heartland N-Trak Of Greater Kansas City  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heartland-N-Trak-of-Greater-Kansas-City/146824552150060 that you have seen me blog about before. He was there with his girlfriend Brooke (find Shane on You-Tube at https://www.youtube.com/user/thebrakeman17 )  TrnShw1

We soon ran across Shane’s Grandfather and other members of Heartland N-Trak as well. I met great folks like Dave AntrimLionel Train collector dha@usa.net (785)-826-0015, Walt GoedeLionel Trains/WWII collector wgoede@gmail.com (816)-813-7163, and Jack Lambert-collector of fine electric trains (785)-825-5134/(785)-201-8118, just to mention a few.

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But since Shane and Brooke were moving a lot faster than me, I opted to just move around on my own. Here are some pics of various exhibits around the show. and some other videos I took as well.

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Operation Lifesaver Kansas City had a table at the show as they always do. I had my application with them approved and completed their online classroom earlier this year and am scheduled for training in North Kansas City December 9th & 10th.

And here are two that I don’t see every day. Trains based on my favorite candy and one of my all-time favorite classic movies since my childhood. If I had the kind of asking price available, I would have certainly been a buyer on one or both of these.

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Here are some of my personal finds at the show.

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The interesting thing  about the CB&Q Time-Table that I just realized right before I posted this tonight is the date on it. November 1964 to 1965. I mentioned in my very first post on this site that my paternal grandfather-a career man with CB&Q passed in 1964. Didn’t notice the date before I purchased it. Hope I can find more from his years with CB&Q!

Sherry Stitch of Silver Zephyr Productions MidAmericaTrainShow@yahoo.com wanted me to remind everyone that the next date for the Mid-America Train & Toy Show is Sunday, March 8th, 2015. I look forward to seeing you there! Want to thank Silver Zephyr Productions, the KCI Expo Center and all who attended for continuing to help us leave Legacies…….On The Rails!

Operation Lifesaver Brings Law Enforcement Along For The Ride

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When I went in to work on Sunday 9/14/14, imagine how thrilled  this rail-fan was to find this flier hanging in the kitchen of my unit, that was from the Union Pacific Railroad, inviting Law Enforcement employees for a ride with them the following morning, to take in a presentation on rail safety from Operation Lifesaver  http://oli.org/ .  I had met some of their volunteers a couple other times this year. The first was at the Midwest Toy & Train Show at the KCI Expo Center back in March. The next was meeting John Sulzer at Parkville Days about a month ago and had been tossing around the idea of becoming a volunteer.

I loved how the location the ride would start at was just minutes from my home, and was early enough on 9/15/14, I could get it in before my shift that evening. When I arrived at the 2300 Manchester site, I met up with other folks that would be going on the ride as well from MODOT, KC Scout and the Union Pacific Police.

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While we waited for our transportation to arrive, I was able to take photos like these.

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And some video like this

What I want you to notice is-these are a prime example of why responsible rail-fan behavior is an important part of overall rail safety. They were taken from a safe distance. We were even visited by an example of why it is not smart to be on railroad property where you don’t belong. Then, our train soon arrived in the form of this beautiful Locomotive Union Pacific Flag Unit straight out of GE, pulling passenger cars.

Gotta love that sound! We all soon boarded and once we found our choice of seats, we were given an Operation Lifesaver presentation by Julie Lacombe -Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver-Kansas.

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Judy Le from Fox 4 News was also on the ride with us and had this article on their site later in the day.

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http://fox4kc.com/2014/09/15/train-operators-warn-about-the-dangers-of-being-around-railroad-tracks/

I was able to take these shots (just a few of many I took along the way. I was in train heaven!

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This was 90 minutes well spent as myself and my fellow passengers not only got to enjoy all this, but I was convinced that being an Operation Lifesaver Volunteer and helping get the all-important life-saving message they share out, was definitely an immediate goal. I have since submitted and had my application approved, and completed their online classroom, and am awaiting the next step in the training process! I will keep you posted on my progress in this area! Why not join me?

Again, my thanks to the Union Pacific Railroad, Operation Lifesaver, and my employer for their cooperative efforts in making this Rail Safety Ride a reality for all of us that took part! I hope they will continue events like this in the future! They are definitely helping to leave important Legacies……On The Rails!!

Let’s finish this up with some railroad music, shall we?