My grandfather was George Dunning McConnell. He was born in 1911 and died in 1994. At age 15, (back in the days of not so much legal paperwork), he looked like a full grown man...standing at 6'4" and weighing about 230....solid muscle.
He started his railroad career at that age as a piledriver, working his way to brakeman, switchman and sometime conductor. He used to tell me stories of strikes, unions and how dangerous the job was - stories of jumping from car to car applying brakes. He started with Texas Pacific, then Missouri Pacific when T&P was bought out.
He was a serious man when he sat me down the day I got my driver's license saying, "Grade crossing equipment is there to save your life boy! Obey them and never try to beat the train. Never!"
The old man lies in a cemetary in Merkel Texas, about 100 yards from the East/West tracks of the UP. That is a fitting memorial to the man. I have many items he gave to me years ago (timetables, union membership cards, even an old red lantern with "T & P" etched into the glass. There is a siding there at Merkel and I would love to see the day that a sign is erected saying, "G.D.McConnell Siding." I hope that is something UP would consider, to honor the man who loved his craft.