The Crees of Roseville

by Robert Cree

  • The Crees of Roseville

    Roy Cree. Taken in front of the family home in Roseville, Calif.

  • The Crees of Roseville

    Roseville High School Tour - alumni, students and staff.

  • The Crees of Roseville

    L-to- R Dennis Magures, senior manager - Locomotive Shop; Brad Basham, RHS principal; Anita Johnson, UP manager - Yard Operations; Lisa Stark, UP director - Public Affairs; Bob Cree, Roseville engineer

Roseville High School celebrated its 100th anniversary along with Union Pacific's 150th anniversary. RHS alumni, along with RHS students and staff, were treated to an educational tour of the Roseville yard as part of the "Reaching Out, Sharing Experiences" (R.O.S.E. Project) program, now in its 20th year. This year we decided to tour the Roseville yard to celebrate our anniversaries together, and I led the tour.

One of our celebrants was Carla LaFave, daughter of longtime SP Conductor/Brakeman Armas Sepponen. "The things that stood out for me were the excellent running narrative, sharing the experience with a student partner, walking where my Dad probably walked during his 44 years of employment, seeing how they built a train, being up close and personal with the snow removal equipment, and climbing up into the locomotive. For me, it was a step back in time, combined with a step into the future. On behalf of the Alumni Association, I would like to thank Union Pacific for allowing us to have that wonderful tour. We all enjoyed it very much!"

Roseville incorporated into a city in 1909, after the railroad decided to move its operations from Rocklin, Calif. My grandfather, Roy Cree, moved with the railroad, and became one of the first citizens of Roseville. As a brakeman, he tied handbrakes on boxcars on descending grades over Donner Pass. The last half of his career he worked mostly passenger service, and often was hand-picked for “Officer's Specials.”

Roy's son, George Cree, knocked on doors and helped call train crews at the SP clubhouse, before the telephone. George was 16 years old when he hired out in 1921. He lived in an “outfit car” on Donner Pass when he first hired out. Working mostly local freight for 52 years, he retired as No. 1 conductor in seniority. Until the day he died, his favorite conversation was the railroad.

All five of George's sons graduated from Roseville High School, and went right to work on the railroad. At one time, six Crees worked out of Roseville Yard, as conductors, switchmen and engineers. The family will have more than 260 years working in Roseville when I retire.

I remember when Roseville was a little town of 10,000 people. It was a great town to grow up in, and work for the railroad. Both have been good to my family. There aren't many jobs were you and your family can work more than 40 years for the same company and retire!

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Community, Family, Working at UP
Roseville, CA
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