Ever since us kids started taking pictures of the rail scene in our area, we have always included pictures of the people who were responsible for making our experience in railroading fantastic. Sure, the engines and structures are nice, but it’s the railroad workers who make for a railroad’s reputation and for the nostalgia that exists. I keep these pictures in a special place in my collection and call it my “Rogues Gallery.” I’m not alone in keeping these type of photos — my brother Dan, my friend and co-worker Ken Bealer, as well as others keep memories alive in this manner.
In addition to being a railroad buff, I also am into history and old movies. One of my favorite movies is Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and a great supporting cast. When the Nazis looked for troublemakers, the French police captain (Claude Rains) would always round up the “usual suspects.”
ABOVE: On July 28, Dave Augsburger, Brothers Dan, Keith and myself headed north from Hoky to photograph the Hazleton Branch jobs. On the way, we passed JB-3 on the CNJ side of the Lehigh River. The train was down to a crawl and we pulled into Hazard to find out what was going on. JB-3 came to a halt and engineer “Boxy” Moyer told us that one of the C628’s had electrical problems and the 1st trick Packerton Drill was being sent to Hazard to double-head the train. What showed up was the 266 with Charlie Arndt as the engineer. Charlie said, “This is great — a pup rescuing two White Elephants!” Soon the train was on its way to Packerton. Dave took this view of “Boxy” talking to Keith, Dan and myself. Brother Keith has his foot in a cast and is using crutches after one of his motorcycle mishaps, of which there many. Notice that the Bednar boys are all practicing good railroad safety habits, as is Dave. —Kodachrome by Dave Augsburger, collection of Mike Bednar
Well, our group of railroaders and fans that were in my inner circle became the “usual suspects” in my railroad career that turned into lifelong friendships. Some early Conrail officials called them a bunch of rogues (and other names that the editor won’t let me mention) but to me, they were my heroes.
A few of them are mentioned in this article of a pivotal year in my career, 1972. I can’t believe 50 years have passed by so quickly.
That year saw tremendous upheaval in the operation of the Eastern railroads. It was a year that saw the pullout of the Jersey Central from the state of Pennsylvania and the horrendous floods of Tropical Storm Agnes, which led to the final nails in the coffin for the Northeastern lines and eventually led to Conrail. It was a year when a young man could still visit the towers, yard office and stations before they disappeared…