Who was engineer on 1522 Grand Farewell?

Discussion in '1500 Class Mountains' started by friscomike, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. friscomike

    friscomike Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter


    I was watching a video of 1522's last run from Sait Louis to points west and back. The video was aired on RFDTV's Trains and Locomotives show. The title was "A Grand Farewell".

    1522 had a load of passenger cars from many roads. It was followed by a some diesel, not sure what it was, maybe a Genesis. It looked like one of those boxy new age diesel things Amtrak operates.

    As the video showed clips of 1522 roaring up and down the grades, speeding across the flats, and making stops along the way, it occurred to me that someone had to one, know the route, grades, etc., and two, know how to engineer and fire a steam locomotive, especially, a 1500 class mountain.

    Does anyone know who had such skills and answered the call? Seems like those skills would have long vanished from one person long ago.

    Best regards,
    mountaincreekar likes this.
  2. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    There were three of us in the St. Louis Steam Train Association who were FRA certified engineers on the 1522 from 1988 until her retirementin 2002. One was an engineer on the BN at the time and arranged for one other guy and myself to attend the BN's Engineer Training School in Overland Park, KS. There we learned the basics of air brake/train handling and rules/signals. There was a long test at the end of the course, along with sessions in the simulator.
    As for handling the steam engine, for some reason I retained a lot of the stories my Dad had told when I was growing up. Don't ask me how, most days I can't remember breakfast. There were a couple of folks who were involved in our restoration who had been involved with other engines such as the C&O 614 and Reading 2100s, who passed along hints and tips about running. Neither of them had fired an oil burner, so we read a lot of the Frisco and Santa Fe's training manuals for firing oil. Early on, a retired Frisco engineer, Gilbert Wofford, gave us tips on firing, but never went on the road with us.
    Regardless of where we were operating, the railroad rules that a pilot crew accompany us. Most of them were a big help with telling us that were running where the grades,sags and signals were, etc. From time to time, we would let them sit down for a few miles at the throttle and most enjoyed it immensely. I had a young engineer pilot down in Texas on the Sunset Route back to Houston who I let sit down for 20 miles or so at track speed of 60 who was thrilled to death, and his parents were on the train, so I'm sure he will always remember that trip. Same with another Pilot from Emporia to Topeka.
    We had regular rules exams, safety meetings and took the responsibility very seriously. The payoff to all of that was being treated as railroaders when we were on the property. It was a gratifying experience.
    The SLSTA was considered a railroad in the eyes of the FRA. I was Chief Mechanical Officer from '88-'02 and had to deal with them with inspections and such. We enjoyed a very good reputation with the FRA as well as AMTRAK. Our equipment was inspected by Dr. Doom, a noted AMTRAK car inspector who was impressed with our operation. When we applied to run under their auspices, one of their main guys came to inspect the locomotive and cars and gave us a clean bill of health.
    I enjoyed the priviledge of always being the engineer east out of Newburg up Rolla Hill at least to Cuba and sometimes all the way in to St. Louis. I ran west out of Newburg twice up Dixon Hill. Newburg already held a fascination for me to model, but the 15 or so times out of Newburg at the throttle nailed it down. Dad's service was on the Rolla Sub, so I know somewhere up there he was enjoying it.
    On the farewell trips, I ran from Cuba-Newburg-Stanton both days.
    fr613 and mountaincreekar like this.
  3. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

    WOW, what an experience that was for you.
    I am all "tingly" reading your post. :cool:
    mountaincreekar likes this.
  4. friscomike

    friscomike Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Howdy Don,

    I knew you had worked on 1522, but didn't know you were at the throttle. What a great story. I imagine there was a ton of work and things to remember, but worth every minute. Thanks for sharing the details of operations; it's very interesting.

    Happy trails,
  5. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    I think when if it was totalled up, each of us would have had a minimum of 5000s at the throttle. Lotta sweat and tears, but the payoff was truly something.
    mountaincreekar likes this.
  6. friscomike

    friscomike Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Indeed, what dreams are made of. ~mike
  7. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    Don--(A little OT) what was the span of years of your dad's career on the Frisco? Like when did he become an engineer and what divisions and runs did he have?

    Thanks, Tom
    mountaincreekar likes this.
  8. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    Dad's seniority date in engine service was 1916 as a fireman. He was still in service when he was killed in an auto accident in 1964. At that time he was engineer in regular passenger service.(On the last train left)
    He was cut off during the depression for a while and worked as a motorcycle officer in Maplewood, MO, drove a car for Scullin Steel and probably had other stuff going on to keep food on the table until business picked up.
    He was promoted to Engineer in 1937 if I recall. He worked on the Scissorbill for a short time when he first went to work for the Frisco. I think he may have worked for the MP for a short time before coming over to the Frisco in '16. Other than that he was strictly St. Louis-Newburg on the Rolla Sub until he died.
    His Brother (my Uncle Joe) worked as a Hostler at Lindenwood back in the '30s (not sure of the date) and my Sister married a fireman on the Rolla Sub in 1946 (I think). He bid on the firing job on the Salem Branch and stayed there until about 1955 when he moved back to St. Louis. He was the regular engineer on the Chrysler turn when he died.
    I didn't just stray into railroading. Never worked for one, but did pass the physical and rules test in 1958 to go firing, but then they started cutting firemen off. Almost hired out on the MoP at the same time, but the same situation transpired. Worked at a service station for a couple years, got married, joined the Army and when I got out in 1965 went to work for Sunnen Products in Maplewood. Worked all through the shop up to Tool & Die maker, then went into management. Left there in '92, went to Sauer Machine Co in Kirkwood for ten years and retired in '03 and haven't looked back since. Don't miss work a bit. Now HO Newburg beckons..............
    mountaincreekar likes this.
  9. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Mike - Here's a pic I took of SLSF 1522 Engineer Don Wirth posing with our favorite Mountain at StL Union Station back in the early days of 1522's SLSTA career.


    Attached Files:

    mountaincreekar likes this.
  10. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

    MAN .. That is ONE good looking loco. There is just something about the way Springfield assembled the iron that produced a unique looking steam locomotive that had a certain balence to it.

    Ken, I must make a call here. I know that you said somewhere in a post that you liked the large smokebox door per 1501 - I like the smaller door per 1522.

    Maybe we should start a poll?
    mountaincreekar likes this.
  11. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Sherrel - They both look great, I think it's just a matter of personal preference. I think I like the wide door best because SLSF 1501 (which originally as-built had the small door) sitting down at Rolla was the first Frisco "1500" I got to know.

    See my "Roster Tale" in the Frisco Museum's "All Aboard", Volume 3 Number 9, February 1989.

    A poll would be fine with me - sounds like a fun idea. I'd bet on the small door winning. Most of the 1500's carried the small door, as did 1522 of course - which earned all kinds of great exposure from its good looks over the past 20 years.

    Perhaps Don, or someone else who has a lot of Frisco steam pics, could post wide door/small door side-by-side views and we'll see.

  12. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Here's the best I can offer for a front end "mug shot" of a Frisco 1500 with the large smokebox door. This, of course, is SLSF 1501, while on display in Rolla, Mo. I took this pic in either late 1960 or early 1961 while a Freshman at MSM.

    Bear in mind this pic shows 1501 after she had been out in the weather for 5 or 6 years while in static display. She is not quite as spiffy as is 1522 in my earlier posting above in the StL Union Station pic with Don.

    What say you regarding the Frisco 1500's? - Large door? Small door?

  13. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    One must always remember to attach the pic before hitting the "submit" button! Sorry about that!


    Attached Files:

  14. This here is a silly story about being a St. L. NRHS car conductor
    on the last 1522 excursion weekend.
    It is silly but I hope you will have fun reading it!
    X-Rolla university students will be able to relate.

    1522 Last Excursion & A Story about Frisco Auto Carriers & Box Cars
    1. [​IMG]
      mountaincreekar Member

      I was a NRHS Car Conductor on one of the last 1522 steam excursions.
      I guess the main job was to keep people safe, answer questions and
      take kids to where the potty was.

      I had a few young guys about ~ age 28 who would not keep their heads
      within the edge of the open .. upper half of the doorway.
      They were just so happy ...going wild about their events.

      It took a long time for them to acknowledge my talking to them about

      why they had to keep their heads within. "Come on guys" ! ........
      No acknowledgement to me.
      So "__b#$%^&* !!!" I used some variety of language to them.

      I checked and they did not seem to have been
      drinking before the excursion.

      They finally kept the wild happiness up, by talking to me instead of

      there heads being out of the car.

      They were still jumping up and down with wild happiness
      as they controlled our one way conversation.
      I finally got them to listen.

      "Don't you realize you guys could loose your heads if there
      was a bridge or a narrow passageway under a concrete overpass" ?

      Here is how they replied.

      "Oh we went to college at Rolla" "We would be down by the track all the time".
      "But you do not understand" . "On some weekends we would yet up to the upper level
      and get into one of those new autos". "We always had a cooler of beer".

      "If there was not a auto carrier, an open box car would have to do,
      but no soft seats". " But we could wrestle after a few beers".

      "We would ride to Springfield and 'then hop into another car and
      taking that train to Memphis". "Nice big bridge there"!
      "There again we hopped into another train going to St. Louis".
      "An empty box car normally". "Auto carriers were outbound from St. Louis".

      " By then there was no beer left." "Just a little ice water".

      "At Lindenwood rail yard we would hop into the 4th train, ...
      often an auto carrier". "Soft seats finally". "Ride it all the
      way back to Rolla
      where the train would creep by the depot." "To many students hanging
      out there on Sundays". "It was a party spot on weekends".
      "Boy we were real thirsty by then".

      "We had just so much fun with the wind blowing into our faces!"

      I replied: "OK" aaa "ok", "So you guys are experts" !!!
      Laughing, I said "that is a neat story".... "ha ha-aaa",
      .... "but you all have graduated now."

      "So I have to keep your heads within" !!!

      They were still giggling,.. giggling... but then they all said "OK" !. !. !

      Frisco auto transporters and empty boxcars must of had been happy places.
      Rock N Roll days.

      [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Going through this tunnel at Cotter AR a railroad employee was killed.

    ........... Pat has a story about a railroad employee traveling going through
    the truss bridge over the Crooked Creek on the Salem Branch of the SLSF.


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