Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Railroad Geneology


Well, it's not a pretty picture.  The end of the line in many ways.  But this has family significance for me.  Inspired by the railyards of the Hi-Line in Havre, I dug up this old pic taken by Jeanne Hill.  It's from the mid-70's taken while drinking at the SLC freight yards.  Probably listening to the local Triple A team on the radio...

My grandfather worked the Soo Line for many years.  It also was a "Hi-Line", running through Minnesota and probably lower Canada.  While my grandfather hailed from Prince Edward Island, Canada, my grandmother was Swedish...  they met in Minnesota where my father was born.  They retired to Boston where I was born (making me a life-long Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves fan).

This all makes sense, if you follow the grain.  Northeastern Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and lower western Canada are all big grain producers.  The Soo Line hauled the grain to Boston, where it was loaded onto freighters for world-wide shipping.  So the family connections make sense.

Some of this grain connection is explained in "Merchants of Grain" by Dan Morgan.  Written 20 years ago or more, it is a very revealing tome on the business of grain and the closely held companies, such as Cargill, that nearly monopolize the market.

The old memories persist in the hearts of dedicated railroaders...  The Soo Line has its own web page.  Whenever I see one of the Soo Line cars,  I'm reminded of my grandfather teaching me a few morse code letters, the telegraph an essential part of railroad communications in his day.





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