My grandfather George Dunning McConnell

by Paul Reed

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.

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Merkel, TX
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  • Sure miss my papa!

    - Kim Mcneely a few years ago