RAIL OPERATIONS EXPERIENCE

 

I began my career with the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad in 1964 on a rail gang at Blackwater, Maine. 

In 1965, I worked for my father, Paul, who was Agent at Island Falls, Maine, as a damage inspector. I inspected box car loads of starch in 50 pound bags that were being unloaded. 

In 1966, after high school, I went to work as a student Agent and Telegrapher at Island Falls.

I trained with my father, who trained with his father, Neill,  20 years earlier.  Initially I traveled around the railroad, training with other Agents at places like Sherman, Patten, Millinocket, East Millinocket, and No Maine Jct.

So I could get a senority date, my father called in sick, and I went to work. I copied my first train order on October 14, 1966, under my own signature at Island Falls and became at part of BAR history. 

The following day, Saturday, my Brother-in-law and I were hunting in the fields just outside of Island Falls, a community of about 500.  We heard the fire whistle blowing and headed for town. We saw a plume of smoke coming from the Starch Factory. There were railroad tracks leading from the main line to the factory.  On the tracks there were three box car loads of starch placed for unloading beside of  the burning building.  I ran into the building and called the Chief Train Dispatcher and asked what I should do.  He told me to move the cars anyway if I could.  I got in my car and turned the corner only to find a small bull dozer on the back of a truck.  I knocked on the door of the house where the bull dozer was parked, identified myself, and told the owner why I needed his bull dozer and that the railroad would pay him for using it.  I rode back to plant with the man and he unloaded the bull dozer.  We hooked a cable from the dozer to the coupler of the lead box car, and I climbed up the ladder and released the brakes off the cars.  I manned the hand brakes, as we hauled the box cars to safety.

So within 24-hours after I worked my first day as an Agent, I received a commendation from Superintendent of Transportation, Herschel P. Lee for my action. This started my career on a very positive note.

I worked at Derby, an Agency adjacent to the freight car shop and worked with local shippers in Lagrange, Milo, Brownville and Derby,  and the Canadian Pacific Railway via their interchange at Brownville Jct.  

I worked as Agent at Searsport, West Seboois, Packard, Patten, Oakfield, Monticello, Bridgewater, Houlton, Limestone, Caribou, Ashland, Van Buren, Madawaska, and Frenchville.  I worked with chemical plant operations, lumber mills, paper companies, potato farmers, lumbermen, food processors, and seaport operations.   I became qualified on the Maine Central Railroad Operating Rules and worked with the MEC dispatcher in Portland, while working at No Maine Jct. in Hermon, Maine, near Bangor.  I also worked at the BAR General Offices in Bangor, as a part of my training, spending time in the mail room, the auditor's office, car accounting and distribution, damage prevention,  the bus line operations, and freight claims and audit. 

In September 1970 Amoskeag Corporation purchased the BAR, and started eliminating most of the Agent jobs. This was perhaps the railroads greatest mistake.  It was the Agents who kept the railroads involved in community affairs and once they were gone the railroads died for lack of an idenity.

I worked for the Bridges and Buildings Department as a painter until the  second week in December when the bridges in northern Maine became so icy that we couldn't work on them safely.  I left the BAR and within a few days, I started my career as an Agent - Telegrapher with the Canadian Pacific Railway's Saint John Division.

Both of my twin brothers, Kirby and Kevin, worked for the BAR.  Kevin was a trainman and conductor.  He left the railroad because the noise of the locomotive and freight car wheel flanges was damaging his hearing.

Kirby was a maintenance of way expert, known to be a sectionman, track inspector and foreman.  Hecompleted 30 years of back breaking work and left the now Montreal, and Atlantic on a disability.  He died expectedly in 2014.

In January 2004, my father was a diagnosed with cancer and although he fought hard to live, he was ushered out of this life in the arms of my brother Kirby at our father's home in Milo, Maine on January 2, 2005.

 

 

Jackman Station, Maine

In December 1970, I came to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway and began my student time as an Agent and Telegrapher in Brownville Jct., Maine, which was on the Saint John Division of the Atlantic Region.

I received a senority date when the regular 2nd Operator, Duncan Dunray Caulfield, (DDC) or Chick, as we affectionately called him, requested to be sick about one half way through his shift.  He called the Night Chief Dispatcher, Francis George Slattery in Saint John, and asked him if there were any other spare men around, and if not, I was standing right beside him and ready to go to work.  Mr. Slattery gave him the nod and on January 25, 1971, I worked my first day under pay.

I worked as a Relief Agent and Telegrapher over the Saint John Division at Jackman, Greenville, Saint John, Fredericton, Woodstook, Perth Jct. and Mcadam New Brunswick, and Houlton, Maine.

In 1973, I got my first permanent job as Agent at Jackman, where I occupied one of the rooms in the station dwelling, but had my home in Milo. (see above)

In Jackman I was the Agent and Telegrapher, managing the railroad's Port Operations with both the U.S. and Canada Customs.

In 1973, I became a Relief Train Dispatcher at the Saint John Division headquarters at the Dever Road Station in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

In 1975, I decided that I should seek to complete my education at the University of Maine in Orono, so I bid in the night trick Telegrapher's job in Brownville Jct and started my career as a university student.  

I changed majors from Chemical Engineering to Business Administration, because it wasn't possible for me to take the labs and work too.

I remained in this status until I left the Canadian Pacific in June 1980 to begin a career as a Hazardous Materials Inspector with the Federal Railroad Administration in Charleston, West Virginia.