Mr. Keister and the Yellowstone Special

by Vern Liljenquist

Some of the fondest childhood memories I have of the Union Pacific were back in the late 1950s to early 60s in Rexburg, Idaho. Union Pacific served the communities of southeastern Idaho on its Yellowstone Branch which ran from Pocatello, Idaho, to West Yellowstone, Mont.

Back in the day, Union Pacific, along with most other American railroads, moved express packages from town to town, delivering them to the receiving customer via the Railway Express Agency, or REA. Cline Kiester was the REA agent for Rexburg and his green truck with his Irish Setter dog riding with him became an icon for the railroad in Rexburg.

Mr. Kiester would meet the northbound and southbound mixed trains (freight trains with one or two passenger cars) daily along with the Yellowstone Special passenger train during the summer months. He then would make his rounds to Rexburg businesses during the day, delivering their packages. He was a congenial man with a pipe and friendly greeting of, "Good morning, sir." The community grew to love and appreciate him as a positive representative of Union Pacific.

Unfortunately, as times were changing, the Yellowstone Special was discontinued in the early 1960s and more packages were being delivered by other means. Subsequently, the REA office was closed in Rexburg and Mr. Kiester was transferred to Pocatello. But the memory of Mr. Kiester, his lovely wife, and children Sally and Charley will forever have a permanent place in Rexburg's history.

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Rexburg, ID
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