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This website has been archived from to TrainWeb.US/ucgw.

Tales of the rails

The switch key

Jim L. Rueber

Rex Beach was a long time CGW employee working in train service between St Paul and Oelwein. One day about 1955 he was called with Conductor Brinkman to work as head brakeman on a Troop Train handling the Iowa National Guard returning from Camp Rippley, Minnesota enroute to Des Moines, Iowa. They picked up 2 "F" units at State Street Yard and went over to the St Paul Union Depot to connect with the 8 car Pullman train coming in on the Northern Pacific. At the Union Depot CGW Business Car 99 with then Vice President E. T. Reidy and party was added to the rear end of the train to be set out at Oelwein. It was agreed that rear brakeman Len Morrill would ride in the rear Pullman car and Conductor Brinkman and Rex Beach would ride in the head Pullman car right behind the engine. Conductor Brinkman called the train dispatcher in Oelwein from the Union Depot and told him where the crew would be riding and to have the operators hand up 3 sets of all train orders.

Rex was down on the steps of the head Pullman when they went by South St Paul but the operator never handed up any orders to him. When Rex went back into the car and told Conductor Brinkman he told him to go back to the rear car and get the orders from Lennie Morrill. Rex started back through the cars but the National Guard guys were stretched out in the aisles and some had make shift tables set up playing cards so it took Rex a long time to get back to the rear Pullman and back up to the head end. Their train was already by Randolph by the time he got back. At Dodge Center the board was out and the operator was there to hand up orders but again he never held up any for Rex standing on the steps of the head Pullman. Conductor Brinkman said to forget it as it was too much trouble to try to go back through the cars again.

At Elkton, Minnesota they had to take siding for freight train No 42. The siding at Elkton at that time was not very long and so was seldom used. They decided they would pull in far enough to clear the main line and then back out as the south end of the siding was overgrown with tall weeds. Soon No 42 went flying by and they saw brakeman Morrill with his lantern go back to line the switch for the siding so they could back out. They never received a back up signal and soon saw brakeman Morrill walking back to the train and then after a few minutes he went walking back to the switch and the block signal changed to green and he gave them a back up sign. When they got to Oelwein and brakeman Morrill joined them in the Yard Office Conductor Brinkman asked Morrill what the hell was going on back there at Elkton. Brakeman Morrill said "I forgot my switch key when I left home and I went back to the car 99 to see if anybody had a switch key and Ed Reidy loaned me his key so I could unlock the switch".


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.