Prior to 1972 in this history, when employee names are
listed in towns or offices, we realize that all clerks on the Colorado
Division Station roster represented by the (BRAC) Brotherhood of
Railway and Airline Clerks were eligible to qualify at any station
on the division. Most had found their niche in a certain area, or
community, and stayed there whenever possible, however their names
may appear in multiple listings.
Likewise, members of the (ORT) Order of Railroad Telegraphers
had a separate division seniority roster, and could hold telegrapher
positions anywhere on the Colorado Division.
After 1971 the BRAC clerks and the ORT telegraphers
merged, with seniority being dovetailed, into one roster.
The General Office Building clerks on the Superintendents
Operating Department roster had their own seniority district, but
were still members of BRAC. Their seniority allowed moves mostly
within the building itself.
La Junta General Office Building
Assistant General Managers
La Junta in 1941 was the headquarters for an Assistant
General Manager, who I remember as G. R. Buchanan. With the AGM
here, the Colorado Division Superintendent J. E. Lester was located
in Pueblo, and he was in office when I hired out in 1944. In later
years the AGM's office in La Junta was eliminated, and La Junta
became HQ for the division. Both of these officials had passenger
rail cars, known as "business" cars assigned to them.
I believe the AGM was numbered 4, and the Superintendent 17 (?).
When I was working for Fred Harvey in 1941-42 we provided food for
both cars when they were in town. In 1956 T. J. Anderson was AGM
in La Junta.
While I never actually worked in this 3 story brick
building, I was there frequently on errands, and later as Treasurer
of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks local, knew most of the personnel.
In each section of the building were areas set aside
for a certain department, or combination of departments, where the
non-official staff labored. The sections were: Division Superintendent;
Trainmasters; Special Service, Claim Agents; Engineering; Dispatchers,
Roadmasters, Signals, Communication, Bridge and Building, and Motor
Car Maintenance. It also housed the Chief Dispatcher, and his trick
dispatchers, and in later years the Radio department.
It was located on the corner of 4th and Santa Fe, four
blocks from the rail yard, and was staffed by the below listed roster
of BRAC clerks, that could move from office to office as vacancies
occurred and their job qualifications and seniority allowed.
The Engineering department, however, had their own staff
that were considered as officials. They were not under the clerks
schedule, and were available to work where ever needed during such
times as strikes, for example.
Colorado Division Superintendants
Of all the Superintendents, I remember Mr. C. B. Kurtz
the best. When Topeka officials chaired La Junta meetings, they
used his middle name of Burns, but I never heard anyone in La Junta
address him in any way but Mr. Kurtz, even after retirement when
familiarity seems to prevail. He stayed in La Junta, and served
on the city council and was dedicated to the community. He was a
real gentleman and fair in all his dealings, and most of all, he
remembered your name and was concerned about your welfare.
Others besides J. E. Lester, were H. A. Tice (1928)
, J. P. Spears (1956), B. O. Bernard, G. E. Young, J.K. Hastings,
D. D. Didier, and Dennis McDougal, to name a few. There may have
been a man named Agee, for we had a track by that name at Rocky
Ford that was supposed to be named for him.
I had a slight knowledge of Mr. Lester. As a Fred Harvey
worker in 1941, I knew his business car steward better, but had
a few chance meetings. In 1945, I was going with a lady telegrapher
working at Swink. She later was agent at a desolate one person agency
called Caddoa just south of the John Martin dam, and the only telegraph
office between Las Animas and Lamar.
The station, because of its desolation, had a rail owned
residence within walking distance. The area also had a terrible
rattlesnake problem. She had been raised near Hasty (north of the
dam), and was used to snakes. With a club she would kill a snake
nearly every walk she made, and sometimes several. She then would
hang the carcass over the barb wire fence. She had a lot of spunk!
I was working nights, and she was working days. With
our weird hours, my only time with her was during her work hours.
One hot Sunday, much to her concern, I took the waiting room bench
outside into the breezy shade of the depot walls to sit. She was
afraid some official might come by, but I said "what official
works on Sunday?." Shortly after, a motor car came around a
sharp bend, bearing Mr. Lester and the track maintainer!
With the bravado of youth I gave them a candy bar and
a cold drink that I had brought with me, and we sat on the bench
and talked railroading. He talked a bit with Mary, and went on his
way, and we never heard another word!
My only other memory of him was seeing him one evening
in a light gray suit, walking along side of the steam locomotive,
when the blow off valves blew oily steam all over him! I, and several
of my co-workers thought at the time that a certain engineer did
it on purpose, but it may have been just fate, as automatic blow
off valves were common on engines.
After I assumed the Agency at Rocky Ford, I had a run
in with a superintendent. During beet season, an seasonal employee
making a morning yard check mentioned that he had bumped his head
on the side of a car, but did not want to go to the doctor. Most
of us had done this at one time or another, so I assumed he was
OK. Later in the day, he began to complain about the injury, and
I sent him to the Santa Fe approved doctor and called the super's
A few minutes later, he exploded in my ear for nearly
15 minutes as to why I did not call him in the morning, right after
the injury. He finally hung up, and I was a mess wondering why there
was so much concern. The phone rang again, and away we went again
for another 15 minutes! It seems there was a pre-existing problem
between the employee and the carrier that I knew nothing about,
and had I known of this, as Agent I would have been more cautious.
I have been chewed out before, but nothing like this! However, once
it was over, he never mentioned it again in any of our dealings.
Trainmasters were one step below a superintendent, and
was the official that a station agent usually had to deal with.
I have worked under several, but the one I most remember was Delbert
Miller out of Pueblo. He was a real gentleman. He would come to
Rocky Ford occasionally, but never with a chip on his shoulder.
If I had messed up, we talked it over and he was always amicable.
There was a trainmaster assigned to a certain railroad
area, and in some cases there might be two trainmasters with offices
in the GOB. They were usually the ones who notified the agent of
an impending change in office staff, usually a job abolishment,
but sometimes a new position when business was good enough. When
a trainmaster came to your office, we were always apprehensive as
to why he came!
We had a dread about getting your depot painted. In
later years it seemed like a depot painting crew would come in,
and a few months later they would close the depot for good. It seemed
like the trainmaster was usually the bearer of those bad tidings!
However, my personal opinion is, this trend was part
of someone's master plan. A case in point is the General Office
Building itself. Just a few short years before they closed the building,
a major overhauling took place costing what was rumored to be about
$300,000.00. It stands to reason, if a rail building showed more
expense than the income it was supposed to generate, it would be
grounds for closure. The old adage is, you have to spend money to
make money, so if you spend a bunch on a building that you want
to close, you will save a lot of money in the long run!
Some trainmaster names I remember are H. J. Briscoe,
W. R. Henry, E. B. Jones, M. E. Shewmake (Pueblo), B. Y. Steele,
L. P. Heath, W. R. Hopper, and T. E. Auge.
I do not remember if there were Chief Clerks in all
the offices. If there were, they were probably considered to be
officials. I know those in the Superintendent's office were officials,
and included Bill Bidall, Clarence Cox, and Barry Henry to name
The BRC clerks that were listed on the Superintendent's
Operating Department seniority roster in 1980 included: Dean Sommers;
Bernie Carroll; Frank Bissey (Pueblo); Marge Sommers; A. L. Moore
(Amarillo) Lois Springer; Burch Ritter; Lloyd Hinderliter; Richard
Hinderliter (Chicago) ; Elsie Horn (a classmate from Lamar Colo.
H.S.); A. G. "Brownie" Wynne; Connie Rogers; Judy Karney;
Linda Hinderliter, (Chicago) ; C. A. Barnhart; Dorothy Schultz;
Marilyn Ritter; Nell Morgan; Charlene Sims (Pueblo); Andy Amparan
(Agent when I retired); Muriel Brown; J. L. Clark (Raton); Sachi
Fujimoto; E. Jo Foste; Bonnie Carlile; Tammy Davis; Jeanine La Fever;
Linda (Lowman) Smith; Duranna Crosswhite; K. C. Melchoir; Bob Buller;
H. L. Verne, and Jody Hansen.
Prior to 1980 were Trudy O'Leary, Hiawatha Griffith,
Fern Bell, Frank Wyowadzic, and John Bickel to name a few retirees.
Charles Fitzpatrick seemed to be always on the go, investigating
the many different accidents or claims made against the carrier.
These ranged from livestock deaths to rail and auto accidents to
personal injury problems, and everything in between!
In 1956 W. R. Rees was District Engineer. Later members
of the Engineering department that I knew from my job distributing
paychecks were J. B. Miller, Don McClure, R. E. McIntyre, Larry
Stotts, Chuck Moore, Charlie Tucker, Mike Berry, and Dan Duff.
Being a clerk from the beginning, I was not acquainted
with the dispatching department until later in my career. When I
passed the rule book to become agent at Rocky Ford, the Chief Dispatcher
was W. N. Willis, and later Jack McAtee. Another earlier man was
Trick Dispatchers as of 1985
Les Anderson, Leonard Stephan, Gene Spoonemore, Don
Deaton, Bill Abel, Randy Holiman, Ron Yergert, Doug Harrison, Sherril
Taylor, Lyle Japhet, J. J. Garza, Doyle Elyea, and Ron Hiner.
T. G. Corbin, and Dick Weakley
John Bagwell, Supervisor (1971), G. H. Sette and J.
F. Sulier, Assistant Supervisors (1971), and in 1986 Paul Barnes,
Supervisor; Mert Turner, Assistant Supervisor; and Signal Inspectors
King Bullard, and Jerry Sitton. Maintainers Ralph Prather, Paul
Fritz, Howard Norris, Bob Malden, Bruce Baublits, Mike Casper, Bill
Blecha, and (Bill?) Mitchell, to name a few.
In 1971, C. C. Garret Jr was Assistant Engineer. When
I retired Howard Luehring and John Mullaly were Radio men, and in
the Telephone Department was Gary Hines.
Bridge and Building
Albert Matt, was the head of the department. He was
a WW 2, refugee from Europe, and had been an apprentice to a carpenter
since his childhood days. He was a master carpenter and builder.
Tom Coffield was the B&B foreman. Bridge Inspector was Dee Quicksall
(after retirement, Federal Bridge Inspector)
Clyde L. Conley was the first I remember, in 1944. His
son Frank was one of my best friends in La Junta high school. M.
C. Pannell and W. C. Popham Jr were roadmasters in 1971. I
cannot seem to remember who else were roadmasters.
I am sure that I have missed some names in this article,
and probably will come to mind in the days ahead. My apologies to
anyone I have slighted. If I hear from anyone with changes of spelling,
or additions or subtractions, to this story, I will be glad to submit
an addendum, probably by the end of the year.