No Greater Job

by Gary Marks

In 1929, Robert (Bob) L. Marks began his UPRR career, and until his untimely death in 1971, Bob demonstrated his profound knowledge of what was required to provide superior track maintenance. Bob realized that the days of the section gangs within the maintenance of way department were numbered as few individuals were interested in learning the profession of maintaining a rail bed that handled the freight and passengers on the main line of the UP. He also knew that impersonal machines were the wave of the future, and if he were alive today, he would miss the smell of creasote ties and men laying track by hand. Today's methods, for Bob, would be a means to an end with high efficiency, while his way developed character, bonded men together, and were an important part of the local communities.

Moving from Shelton, Neb., in 1940 to Dix, Neb., in western Nebraska, Bob was well aware of the probability of war and the importance of moving freight and troops if his country was going to defeat Hitler. The Sioux Ordinanance facility for building munitions was becoming operational outside of Sidney, Neb., and Bob knew that ordinance trains would be on the main line. He knew that his designation of essential services to the country would be taken seriously, as munitions and troops by the millions would use his portion of "his" track to safely reach their destinations.

It was during this time of war that Bob was truly able to serve his country, not only by providing a system of track and switches that met the daily needs of so many, but his position as section foreman provided him opportunities to serve those in need. Bob had a policy of employment for his local community that included hiring individuals for short periods of time so that they could provide for their family, and once this was accomplished, he would release them and bring on others to continue the process. Times were tough and for some, it was a hardship to supply heat in the cold Nebraska winters, so once again, Bob made certain that no one was without coal, especially the local school. Yes, he knew that the coal belonged to UPRR, but he also knew it was the right thing to do at the time.

Bob lived to go to work for the UPRR, but on March 27, 1971, whle showing ties to a farmer, he died of a massive heart attack. His funeral was attended by more people than populated the town as he was the person that everyone knew they could depend upon during hard times to support them with the help of the UPRR. I worked for my father for summertime employment that helped pay my way through college, and for that I will be eternally grateful. May God and the United States continue to bless the UPRR.

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Community, Family, Working at UP
Dix, NE
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