Page 8 - May June 2020
P. 8

 A Low Spot Along the Way
Peter Conlon
  Special Train for AREA Members at Northtown Yard, Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 13, 1978 - photos by Peter Conlon
I joined the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Research & Test Department in Washington, D.C. just after Christmas, 1977, as an
Environmental Specialist. I was thrilled
to be there. I grew up in southern New England watching trains on the New Haven and the Boston & Albany, hanging around stations, towers, shops; anywhere there were railroaders working. Back in the late 50s and early 60s, railroads were wearing out everything: the employees, the track, the equipment, and as fascinat- ing as it was to me, I couldn’t see myself working there. Having chosen to work on environmental problems, I studied water and air pollution in school and worked for a consulting firm for several years. But, after realizing that railroads would need people who could help to deal with their pollution problems, I was fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.
Not long after I started work at the AAR, I was given the opportunity to
VP Engineering Business Car - Mississippi River
join the American Railway Engineering Association (AREA). In the fall of 1978, my boss and I, along with others from the office, went to Minneapolis to attend an AREA regional meeting.The Burling- ton Northern sponsored a train ride for the attendees to Superior,Wisconsin to inspect the ore docks there. Early on the morning after the meeting concluded, we assembled at NorthtownYard to board
our train.Winter was on its way and it was chilly and grey, but the cars were warm and the coffee was hot. I was kind of glad that the road foreman turned down my request to ride up front; there were already too many people in the cab, he said. So, off we went.The scenery was all new to me and I was glued to the window much of the trip, though meet- ing railroaders from all over the country for the first time was great fun.
Somewhere along the way while cross- ing a long fill, my car violently lurched downward to the left and quickly righted itself.The carload of railway engineers was suddenly quiet but the speculation began pretty quickly.We had rolled over a low spot that somehow hadn’t been detected prior to the passage of the Vice President of Engineering’s special train. There was speculation that the division engineer was being called upon the car- pet back in the VP’s office car.
The tour of the ore dock was fascinat- ing.We saw cars being unloaded, vast stockpiles of Taconite Pellets, enor- mous conveyor belts moving up to the ship loading level, and huge ships being loaded. It was a wonderful experience to see all that.The ride back to Minneapo- lis went smoothly.The train was warm, refreshments cold, and food delicious. The dip in the track had been repaired and nothing more was said of it.
This was the first of many interesting trips I made for the Association of Amer- ican Railroads until retiring in 2008.
Peter Conlon
   Some of the AREA guests on the special train. My associate Tom Guins and my boss, Conan Furber at far right
 ROUNDHOUSE - May/June 2020

   6   7   8   9   10