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Here's a Memory. Should be in Model Trains-But I don't subscribe to them!

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Here's a Memory. Should be in Model Trains-But I don't subscribe to them!
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:54 AM

Again with the -- It was a cold morning and the sun wasn't up yet!

       My age ? Just turned Ten this morning. Dad says get up . Grandpa is coming to pick me up. Grandpa? He works for New York Central ! He's an engineer! Grandpa arrives just as the sun starts to peek above the horizon.

        He's old world German, But I won't try the Accent in print! He grabs me in a bear hug-grandpa style and says "Are you ready Young one? Sure! Then lets go!" We go to his car. You wouldn't believe this car. It's a Silver and Blue Hudson Hornet! Low, Wide and Fast! Yeah, Grandpa is a leadfoot!

      We arrive about fifteen minutes later, at of all places the Railyard and Repair shop. We go inside the ready office and there's a bunch of young and old Rail guys standing around. They catch me offguard by singing " Happy Birthday" They actually didn't sing to bad!

 The Conductor for Grandpa's train takes me aside. "You cannot board that way", he says. And promptly gets a box and hands it to me. "Come on and get ready we've only got fifteen minutes" and then he leaves the room.

     Inside this box is a pair of Engineer coveralls my size, and an Engineer's hat and scarf! Suited up, I step out to cheers?

     Why? Well it seems the Rail Union and New York Central Railroad gave permission for me to ride grandpa's train to Pittsburg, In The Cab! This would never happen today with all the safety and insurance regulations.

       Why? Well, Grandpa's train was pulled by what is called a J-4 Hudson, Steam Locomotive, and they'd fixed it up for me to be the Engineer for that trip with Grandpa along to make sure it was done right!

     If you have ever gone to a Train Museum and have seen what a Steam Locomotive of that type was, size wise, you would say, like me " Holy Cow". Grandpa had to boost me up while the Fireman reached down and took my hand to help me up into the cab!

     I sat in Grandpa's seat( He stood right behind me ) and did what he told me to , Reacting to signals from the Conductor and pulling up to the station. The passengers boarded and we were off. Slowly at first but we gained speed till we were on time headed from Buffalo N.Y. to Albany,N.Y. then to the next stop, ending in Pittsburg,P.A.

    I can still close my eyes and hear the sounds from that day and if I am careful I can almost smell it! I sometimes wonder if children, when they grow old will be able to reminisce like this. Maybe, maybe not.

     That's why I consider myself one of the most fortunate old men in my town. Look what I've done as a child. Children can't get that today. Why? Well, there's all the safety rules, and insurance rules and lastly, all the Security protocols in place. The world today is actually a wilder place than it was in my childhood.

       I can still remember a neighbor lady calling my name and telling me to hurry on home, My mom's got dinner on the table! This doesn't happen anymore either. We hardly know our neighbors and vice-versa . Oh Well, Enjoy this little missive too. T.B.

  • Member since
    March 2017
  • From: Chambersburg, PA
Posted by dlh on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 11:03 AM

What a great memory.  I've always wanted to ride in a locomotive.  I had a friend who worked as a brakeman for Chessie.  We talked about a ride, but times changed and it never happened.


  • Member since
    July 2014
  • From: Boise ID area
Posted by modelcrazy on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 11:11 AM

Well TB, while I've seen plenty old steam in museums and rode behind one on some Califorina special tour train. The only trains I rode on (not including Amtrack) was the Santa Fe Chief. Not steam, but and old E8 loco, from Dallas to Kansas City where my grandmother meet me and drove me back to Clinton MO for the summer. . I usually flew Braniff,

A few years back I worked for a company, Motive Power, that made locomotives here in Boise, recently moved to Pennsylvania or some such. They would'nt even let us be in the cab while it was on a run up and locked down, and me made th D^%n things.

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 11:31 AM

That's a good story! I never had a chance to ride in the cab of a locomotive. There's a railroad near me, the Roaring Camp and Big Trees, that operates a Heisler. I think you can ride in the cab on Father's Day if you book way ahead.

Now there's the 4294 in Sacramento at the State Railroad Museum.

Years back there would be a docent who was a retired seatbox hero who could tell a good story or two about running over Donner Pass.


  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 6:45 PM

Tanker Builder said, "Here's a Memory. Should be in Model Trains-But I don't subscribe to them!" 

And what a memory! A train is basically an airplane with a long, articulating fuselage without wings, so your post is fine!

It's true that experiences such as yours are no longer possible, which is perhaps OK. Several years ago, a Russian Boeing 747 crashed because the pilot let his young son handle the controls, and the kid actually overpowered the automatic pilot!

I had an experience similar to yours when I was in the American Navy. I was flying in a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) Lockheed Constellation, from Travis Air Force Base to Japan, where I would work in the Navy hospital at Yokosuka. The Constellation — the "Connie" — was one of my favourite planes, and I asked the steward if I could see the cockpit:

Steward: No problem. Just go knock on the door. (The door was just a sheet of plywood without a lock.)

I knocked on the door. The co-pilot opened the door.

Co-Pilot: Can I help you?

Me: I just wanted to see the cockpit.

Co-Pilot: No problem! I was just going for a cup of coffee. Pointing to his seat, he said, Have a seat.

He went for his coffee, and I sat down in his seat. He didn't come back for perhaps 45 minutes. I spotted the coast of Oahu before the pilot did.




Almost finished: Airfix 1/72 HP.52 Hampden bomber & Minicraft 1/48 T-34 Mentor trainer. Starting to work on Italeri 1/72 UH-34 Seahorse helicopter & Academy 1/72 F-86F Sabre.

  • Member since
    February 2011
  • From: AZ,USA
Posted by GreySnake on Friday, February 28, 2020 9:45 AM
Great story TB! Never got a chance to ride in a locomotive just seen a few in museums. My uncle used to work for CSX and always wanted to try to get me on an engine but by late 1990’s things had changed.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • From: Franklin Wi
Posted by Bakster on Sunday, March 1, 2020 9:57 AM

You are a lucky dude, TB.

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, March 1, 2020 10:14 AM


    Tell you what, I realize that. It seems if it is a piece of history of some sort I have been there, done that. Why? Who Knows?

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Sunday, March 1, 2020 10:19 AM

That's a great memory, and a very nice story, TB.

It is good that you realize what a treat that was back then and that now, sadly, it would be unheard of.


Now there's the 4294 in Sacramento at the State Railroad Museum.


And thanks for reminding me of one of my good memories, Bill. Several years back my sister took me the the Sacramento Railroad Museum and I got to see 'ol Cab Forward 4294 in person. You mentioned a docent there. The docents were amazing.



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