Stories

Family Rail Legacy, UP Town Grow Side by Side

by Timothy Dorram

  • Family Rail Legacy, UP Town Grow Side by Side

    For more than a century, Dorrams have worked on the railroad. Among those contributing to the legacy from left are Casey, Chad, Tim and Robert.

  • Family Rail Legacy, UP Town Grow Side by Side

    Jeff Weisgerber, left, and Rick Weisgerber trace their railroading roots through their mother's Dorram family tree.

The Dorram family tree's branches are filled with five generations of railroaders. The lineage begins with James Dorram, a brakeman and conductor, who began his 40-year career with Union Pacific in 1887 in North Platte, Neb.

North Platte was barely a decade old when James Dorram hired out. By that time, at age 19, he had already worked construction for the Denver Royal Gorge Railroad.

James' son Clifford joined UP in 1920, along with his brothers J.R. and C.W. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, Clifford was able to hold a regular road job. When the U.S. entered World War II, he worked as a freight conductor, transporting both soldiers and materials across the country by rail. After the war, Clifford completed his career as a passenger conductor.

In 1950, Clifford's son Robert continued the legacy joining the railroad as a crew caller. He took a leave of absence in 1951 to enter the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Cheyenne, Wyo. After completing his military service, Robert returned to North Platte as a clerk freight handler, billing clerk and timekeeper and was a yard office supervisor at the time of his 1991 retirement.

Following my father Robert, I joined UP as a North Platte clerk in 1978. Since then, I've helped implement Train Control System (TCS) and joined the Service Design team, where I work today. I met my wife, Anna Hall, who began her railroad career with the Missouri Pacific as a Memphis clerk before moving to St. Louis and Omaha.

I have two sons also working for the railroad. Casey is a foreman general in Omaha and Chad is a conductor and locomotive engineer in North Platte.

When the Dorram family gets together, there is another branch on the family tree with multiple generations working on the Union Pacific. Only the name is different.

The tradition continues with Director Train Management Rick Weisgerber's family. Rick's mother Charlotte is Clifford Dorram's daughter. Rick joined the railroad May 10, 1970, as a train order operator in Ogallala, Neb.

There was never a time when Rick didn't want to work for the Union Pacific. As a kid he hung out at the depot all the time.

Rick's son Jeff joined the railroad in 1998 as a Bailey Yard switchman. He currently works as a locomotive engineer from Council Bluffs to North Platte.

The family tree also includes Dick Shepherd, my uncle on his mother's side, who was a locomotive engineer for more than 30 years; and James Parrish, who was married to Clifford's daughter Marilyn, who was a North Platte clerk for more than 40 years.

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2
1920-2012
Community, Family, Working at UP
North Platte, NE
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Comments

  • My father's side of the family has a long history with Union Pacific and other railroads. Eastman Smith Glines hired on in North Platte in 1910 and worked as a fireman, brakeman, engineer, conductor, etc til retiring in the 1950's. He came from New Hampshire where his mother Carrie Mooney's grandfather John Mooney was a big railroad contractor and built a large part of the Boston and Maine railroad. Carrie's brothers Frank of Concord, Mass., Alvin of Salem, Mass., Perry of Lowell, Mass. and Joseph of North Platte worked for railroads.

    - Patricia Rosenthal a couple of years ago