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Tales of the rails

Snoose Johnson

Jim L. Rueber

Snoose Johnson came to America from the old country to make a better life for himself and his family and what better life could a young fellow find than a job shoveling black diamonds into the hungry fireboxes of Chicago Great Western locomotives between St Paul and Oelwein. After a few years Snoose was promoted to the right hand side of the cab and one night while trying to wiggle a heavy southbound freight up Nerstrand Hill Snoose ran out of sand, slipped down and stalled.

When he got back into St Paul two days later there was a note there for him to report to the Superintendents office. Snoose went up to the Superintendents office located above the yard office there in St Paul and as soon as he was inside the office the Superintendent said I have a report here that you stalled on Nerstrand the other night because you didn't have any sand and you had to double the train into Nerstrand which not only delayed your train but several other trains. What in hell were you doing on Nerstrand Hill with no sand? Snoose replies, "Slippin."

After a few more years Snoose was able to bid in one of those passenger runs between Minneapolis and Oelwein. Shortly after going into passenger service Snoose came out of Minneapolis quite late one night and Snoose thought he would show everybody that he could keep up with the other engineers in passenger service so he opened the throttle wide every chance he got on the way to Oelwein and they came into Oelwein almost on time.

When Snoose got back to Minneapolis he had a note to report to the same Superintendent over at St Paul. Snoose drove over to the Superintendents office and the Superintendent said you made an awful fast run to Oelwein the other night. Don't you know when you run that fast your are going to turn the engine over and hurt a lot of passengers? Do you have anything to say about that? Snoose says "We made it."

Don Tolstead would add: One day when Snoose was leaving Taopi after waiting for a passenger train to pass, as he left the siding he "widened on her" and accelerated out of the passing track through a spring frog turnout. Don said that the noise was deafening, but, there wasn't any damage to the turnout.


Copyright 1998,99 Tom Tolstead
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