I have always loved trains. I was lucky enough to ride in several different railroad passenger trains on family vacations when I was a boy. I remember wonderful employees, great service and fantastic scenery on these trips. I was already into model railroading during this time, so I would pay attention to the locomotives pulling our trains before we would board. F7s, E8s and 9s are what I remember riding behind, and the conductors would always talk to me and give me more information about them. It was great.
Decades later I was hit with cancer. I was incorrectly diagnosed at first, so I didn’t get treatment until after it had spread significantly. It took a long time, but after several rounds of chemo, and several surgeries, I began to recover, but I had no endurance. My doctor said I should travel a bit, to build endurance and get out of the house.
My wife and I packed the car and went to see family in Colorado and Wyoming. My wife’s uncle in Wyoming is also a model railroader, and he and his wife called the Union Pacific Steam Program in Cheyenne to see if we could visit (a surprise for me) and the Union Pacific Steam Program said yes.
Wow, what a day! We got there early, and the employees let me wander the roundhouse by myself. Then we got a tour of the roundhouse, engine house, turntable, some of the yard, and all that fantastic equipment. I was like a kid in a candy store. I didn’t have any problems with endurance that day!
I realized that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The folks working there were wonderful, and proud of their railroad and equipment. They were just like the railroaders I met 40 years before. It’s true what they say, “Railroaders are a special breed”.