Support this website by joining the Silver Rails TrainWeb Club for as little as $1 per month. Click here for info.

This website has been archived from to TrainWeb.US/ucgw.

Issued by the Chicago Great Western Railway Co.

Oelwein, Iowa

Vol. 12 Nos. 1 and 2 V. Allan Vaughn, Editor G.L. Vargason, Ass't Editor

January & February 1966

Clarence Haugh

The gentleman at the left is a railroad man with a one-track mind�he's Clarence Haugh of New Hampton, CGW Audigauge Operator.

His job is hiking 1,364 miles a year checking tracks for the CGW with the detector mentioned above looking for defects in the steel rails.

Haugh has walked a 341-mile stretch of track for the past 10 years but has been a CGW man for the past 47 years. "There's no secret to being able to walk so far," said the 65-year-old father of nine "All you have to do is take big steps and lots of them."

During his "walk" between Chicago and St. Paul, Haugh makes his "home" in many lineside towns and he was interviewed by the DUBUQUE TELEGRAPH HERALD when he passed through Dubuque in recent months. SAFETY NEWS wishes to thank the newspaper for the photos of Mr. Haugh.

As he works, Haugh wears a set of earphones to hear the tone from the crystal passing over the rail. He can hold a conversation while wearing them if there is no wind interference. Engineers usually spot his white hat quite some distance away and sound the air horn in warning � although a horn once Jammed and Haugh, walking against a bitter wind, became in his words "weak in the knees" when he turned around and saw a road diesel towering behind him a few yards!

Last summer a stubborn bull on the track near Hampton. Iowa refused to let him pass. "The bull started charging at me. I let out a good war whoop and suddenly the bull charged off to my right. Must have been the hand of God," Haugh remarked.

As he rolls the crystal along the rail, Haugh listens for the tone in the earphone. He also carries an oil can to oil the rail joints before testing them. The crystal does not produce a sound when the track is dry or when there is a crack in the rail structure. He then tags the spot and adds it to a daily report for repair without delay.

"My greatest satisfaction is knowing that I have probably averted thousands of delays and wrecks," Haugh said.

"Of course, I enjoy watching a deer swim in the Cannon River in Minnesota � and all the people along the way are friendly."

Audigauge testing

He has never seen a rattlesnake on the rails but has encountered many harmless bull snakes. Bulls in pastures follow him along the right-of-way but are fortunately on their own side of the fence!

Haugh's pattern of working is to park his car and test one rail for about four miles, then test the other rail back to his parked car.

Haugh doesn't find working alone very boring. His conversation labels him an observer of nature, peacemaker with those who oppose railroads, policeman to vandals, and a student of electrical power.

"I have passed only one power plant that I haven't toured," he said, "the big one at Dubuque."

During intervals he did not work for the CGW. Haugh worked in power plants. "I still wonder sometimes as I walk along if I should have stayed in the power plant. Steam and electricity-�that's what I like to talk about, especially people who work with it."

Regarding retirement, Haugh smiles and says "I will keep on walking until I have to quit. I pass the annual physical, so I keep walking."

Copyright 1998,99 Tom Tolstead
ad pos61 ad pos63
ad pos62 ad pos64

Support this website by joining the Silver Rails TrainWeb Club for as little as $1 per month. Click here for info.