Railroader Biographies

biographies

clevelandunionterminal

The Van Swerigen brothers started in the real estate business but ended owning the Nickel Plate plus more railroads.

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johnwbarriger

John W. Barriger was an outstanding railroad manager; a real live railfan; an advocate of super railroads; and a railroad historian.

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robertyoungadvertisement

Robert Young and the New York Central Railroad:
Some of the most fascinating railroad literature of the 1940’s are transcripts of this unusual man’s testimony before the Interstate Commerce Commission.
At year-end 1943, New York Central closed at 18 ¾, which meant D&H had an investment of $5,711,250.

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georgealpertnewhaven

George Alpert was the last president of the New Haven Railroad.

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robertmoses

Robert Moses:
Against Mass Transit

Did you ever wonder how the mass transit situation in New York got so fouled up? A lot of the answer is from an unusual man named

Robert Moses

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georgefeatherstonaugh

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grandcentralclockmaker

Jacob Bachtold was the Grand Central Terminal Clockmaker.


(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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corning

In 1853,

Erastus Corning

merged 10 railroads across New York State to form the New York Central railroad between Albany and Buffalo.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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crowleydies1953

In 1953,

Patrick Crowley

died. He had been president of the New York Central from 1924 to 1931. During his tenure, the New York Central Building in New York City was built, The Castleton Cutoff was completed. He built the Buffalo Central Terminal.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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alfredperlman

Robert Young brought

Alfred Perlman

to the New York Central as president. Perlman went on to the Penn Central.

In December, 1954, Chairman Young and President Alfred Perlman called reporters into the railroad’s luxurious board room in Manhattan to give the answer. With his usual hyperbole, Young summed up: “Al Perlman has performed a miracle. It will go down as one of the great executive accomplishments in history. “When Young took over after the bitter proxy war, the road was running some $6,000,000 in the red. Last week he announced that the November profit was $5,400,000.

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georgehdaniels

George H. Daniels
The ‘Twentieth Century Limited’ and the ‘Empire State Express’ were originated by George H. Daniels who was the General Passenger Agent and later the first advertising manager of the New York Central. His many contributions to the success of the Central rank him as one of the greats of American advertising. Daniels worked on Mississippi steamboats as a youth and sold patent medicine before joining the railroad in 1889. He was a great publicist and did such things as give “red caps” their name and put the ‘Empire State Express’ on a postage stamp.

George H. Daniels, the NY Central General Passenger Agent, turned his advertising magic on and built the

Thousand Islands up as a premier resort area.

Today’s Poor Prediction
“It may, however, be safe to assume that it will hardly be possible to apply electricity to haul great passenger trains.”
– George H. Daniels, railroad executive, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1900.

In most of the complaints randomly picked from files, the newsroom seemed to get the last word. In 1903, George H. Daniels of the New York Central and Hudson River Rail Road Company threatened to pull display advertising because of the series of “mean articles” by F. C. Mortimer. Mr. Mortimer responded, “As for the number of ‘mean attacks’ mentioned by the amiable Mr. Daniels, they have appeared, perhaps, twice for every three times that the train service at the Grand Central Station has utterly broken down.”

Read his story of “Health and Pleasure” from the 1890’s.

Elgin Genealogical Society GAR Obituaries

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haroldvanderbilt

Harold Vanderbilt

Robert Young followed Harold Vanderbilt as chairman of the New York Central.

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Lt. Col. Hiram W. Taylor

Another name appearing frequently in the New York Central magazine in the 1920’s and 1930’s was Lt. Col. Hiram W. Taylor (“Hi” Taylor). He was appointed Supervisor of Athletics in 1922. He had been a division paymaster and was known personally to most New York Central employees. He had served with honor in the First World War and remained a National Guard officer. His sports programs included a baseball “world series” pitting the Line East champions against the Line West champions with the winners being given a New York City harbor tour on a railroad tugboat or other similar trips. The Albany baseball league of 1930 contained six teams: car shop; locomotive shop; Mohawk Division; Albany Division; Rensselaer; and Selkirk. Taylor formed very competitive bowling leagues and golf matches. In 1925, Albany, the New York Central champions, played baseball against the Pennsylvania RR champions at the D&H field in Colonie before 10,000 spectators. A big activity of the day were sports smokers held by the various New York Central athletic associations. A typical smoker held in the West Albany YMCA featured four boxing bouts.

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Charlie Gunn
Charles B. Gunn was born on April 10, 1918, and grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1936 he began his forty-four year railroad career as a clerk with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company. Over the years he worked for many departments of the company, including Accounting, Materials Accounting, Public Relations, Methods and Procedures, and the General Storekeeper’s Office. His only time away from employment with the company was when he served for three and a half years in the Army during World War II.

Gunn is best known, though, as the official company photographer during the years of the Patrick B. McGinnis presidency of 1954 to 1956. Gunn traveled with McGinnis on inspection trips of the railroad line. He took hundreds of photographs of the devastation to railroad property and towns along the railroad routes from the floods of August and October 1955. After McGinnis left the company in January 1956 Gunn’s position as official photographer was eliminated and he returned to work with other company departments, though he never stopped taking photographs of locomotives, stations, and other railroad-related scenes.

Gunn was still working for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company when it collapsed and emerged as a part of Penn Central on January 1, 1969. Penn Central soon disintegrated to become Conrail and Amtrak.

Gunn retired in 1980 but continued to work as a professional photographer of weddings and church events and as an active promoter of the history of southern New England railroads. He regularly attended railroad shows and sold prints of the photographs he produced for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.

Charles B. Gunn died on April 12, 2002.

I found a bunch of photographs from a long time ago. Some of them were from Charlie Gunn which I purchased from him at train shows in Connecticut. I have always been interested in “head end” trains , so a “rider car” photo from him really interests me. Incidentally, many of the “ Connecticut Stations ” photos I have where bought from Charlie.

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David Gunn, a new Railroad Hero?

David L. Gunn is a transportation system administrator who has headed several important railroads and transit systems in North America.

Gunn has the following work experience:

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 1964 to 1967

New York Central Railroad 1967 to 1968

Assistant Vice-President, Illinois Central Gulf Railroad 1969 to 1974

Director of Commuter Rail, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) 1974 to 1975

Director of Operations, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) 1975 to 1979

General Manager and Chief Operations Officer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) 1979 to 1984

President, New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) 1984 to 1990

General Manager, Washington DC Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) 1991 to 1994

Chief General Manager, Toronto Transit Commission 1995 to 1999

President, Amtrak, 2002-2005.

davidgunn

More about David Gunn

Why did David Gunn get fired from Amtrak?

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Leonore F. Loree: Rail Giant

Leonore F. Loree was best known for a long career with the Delaware & Hudson as president. But, before that he received a civil engineering degree from Rutgers, and in 1877 joined the Pennsylvania Railroad as a rodman in engineering department. He spent 2 years in the Army Corps of Engineers then went to the Mexican National Railways in 1881. Rejoining the Pennsylvania. he made a critical evaluation of a yard plan which got him recognized. He became assistant engineer in the Chicago division in 1883. In 1886, Loree rebuilt 26 bridges, 3 culverts, 2 trestles and 7 miles of track in 6 days after an Ohio flood. In 1889 after the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood, he led the task of cleanup and was able to resume traffic in two weeks using 1,500 men. By 1896, he had become the general manager of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He went on to become a vice president in 1901 at the age of 38. He left the Pennsylvania in 1901 to be the president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In 1904, he became president of the Rock Island Railroad.

L.F. Loree came to the Delaware & Hudson in 1907 at the urging of E.H. Harriman ( Union Pacific. He was the president from 1907-1938. One of his most significant contributions was the D&H Building in Albany. This building was designed by architect Marcus T. Reynolds in 1913 and is a 12-story flemish gothic castle-like structure. From that building, the D&H controlled railroads, coal mines, rapid transit systems, hotels and resorts, steamship companies, real estate and so much more. Amazing how things have changed both for the D&H and the world since it was built! In 1923, the D&H had its 100th anniversary and Loree had his 65th birthday.

Loree was very involved in the railroad ” merger-mania” of the 1920’s. Four major consolidations had been proposed and, in 1925, Loree proposed a fifth trunk line. As well as the D&H, it included:
Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh
Lehigh Valley
Wheeling and Lake Erie
Wabash
A new line thru Pennsylvania
This route would be 50 miles shorter to Chicago and eliminate many ” Alphabet Routes“.

Unfortunately, the Interstate Commerce Commission vetoed his proposal. In the process, he had acquired a great deal of stocks which he sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad for $63 million. His profit of $22 million was invested in 595,000 shares of the New York Central Railroad This gave the D&H a 10 percent ownership! Find out more about this New York Central stock.

In 1929, Loree proposed the “North Atlantic Terminal System”, but it was killed by the Great Depression. Headed by the D&H, it included 17 railroads which included:
New Haven RR
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western
Western Maryland
Boston & Maine

He expected a lot out of his employees. He is known for his practice of not using mechanical stokers on steam locomotives. Instead, he felt he was giving the firemen the best tool: Red Edge shovels.

By the time Loree took over the D&H in 1907, over 200 2-8-0’s had largely replaced all the Moguls in main-line service. Long an advocate of big power, Loree continued buying even larger 2-8-0’s, which fell into an E-5 classification. The first 18 of the new 1000s were double-cabbed, but, with the arrival of #1025 in 1907, the throttle on the D&H engines returned to the backhead once again. These E-5’s had 222,000 pounds on the drivers, 210-pound boiler pressure, piston valves, Walschaert valve gear for the first time on the D&H, and 57-inch drivers, giving them an impressive 49,650-pound tractive effort. The 48 new E-5’s could easily handle 1230 tons up Belden Hill out of Binghamton, where a hogger on an E-3 had his hands full with only 985 tons. Another technological advancement under Loree that originated on the D&H that gained wide acceptance was the application of roller bearings to locomotive driving wheels and side-rods.

The following is from “DELAWARE & HUDSON“, by Jim Shaughnessy: “……. to assert that the steam locomotives of the D&H were daring in design and austere in appearance is to say they were cast after the character of the man who ruled the line for 31 tumultous years.” Thus does a respected railroad journalist characterize the man and his locomotives. “Like his engines, Loree was a stark model of efficiency-a great and proud figure of a man who believed in flat profiles and super locomotives, a day’s work for a day’s pay, discipline of organazation and freedom of management……….Because of Loree the company achieved a rank out of all proportion of its modest mileage. “The locomotives purchased or rebuilt throughout Loree’s administration mirrored its trials and triumphs. Often experimental in concept, always disciplined in design, they ran the gamut from high-pressure 2-8-0’s to Pacifics with rotary cam poppet valve gear and recessed headlights. They seldom agreed with contemporary U.S. engineering and yet they included the first driving-axle and and side-rod roller bearing assemblies, tender booster and welded boiler. The industry learned to look when the D&H unwrapped a new engine because Leonor Loree was a man well-versed in locomotives.”

Not surprisingly, Loree was always an advocate of bigger and better motive power and began to upgrade the D&H’s roster as soon as he arrived in 1907. Larger and heavier engines sparked a long series of alterations and improvements on the D&H. The new locomotives were capable of improving the speed and tonnage of trains and, to operate to their best advantage, required stronger bridges, longer roundhouses, longer turntables, better roadbed, easier grades, larger capacity cars, more water and better service facilities at terminals and shops. Each improvement was followed closely by another, for larger locomotives brought longer trains which demanded longer passing tracks, larger and more efficient yards, and, eventually, the cycle returned to even bigger locomotives again. In 1908, the yard at Binghamton was enlarged, and, in the following year, new yards were buit at Bluff Point, near Plattsburg, and Jermyn, near Carbondale. It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Loree was anything BUT an idle fellow!! The state of the D&H proved that!!

Consolidation # 1111 was the first of the dozen homemade D&H engines, the E-5a class, that were about as powerful and efficient as a 2-8-0 could be made. The last of the series was built in 1932, after which the depression ended the need for new motive power. the #1114 had a different appearance from the others, because of the semi-streamlined enclosure on the top; it also carried more boiler pressure and much more superheating surface. Of course, Mr. Loree was always very proud of his locomotives, and he was more than happy to show of his best for a visit by the presidents of the NYC and LV in 1927.

This article was originally published in 1933 for The NEW YORKER MAGAZINE and again rewritten in 1961.

“Leonore F. Loree is perhaps the one man in Wall Street who would not be eclipsed by the office suite occupied by the president of the Delaware & Hudson railroad. It is a gaudy affair in the florid manner on the ninteenth century. The ceiling is a profusion of nymph’s heads, festoons of fruit, and fat dimpled cherubs. There are sunburst crystal chandeliers, a mantlepiece with carved lions heads, wall niches full of cockle shells, and windows with stained glass borders. There are elegant ormolue radiators, screens, two shiny brass cuspidors and a gas log.

Shaggy and elephantine, with quick, amused eyes and lumbering, soft footed walk of a bear, Loree easily dominates the cherubs and the nymphs. A friend has observed that Loree’s real place is in the museum of Natural History. He is a survivor from Wall Street’s Pleistocene Age, a reminder that there was a time when Jay Gould and Jubilee Jim Fisk ran the Erie from the Manthattan Opera house and John W. Gates drank the Steel Corporation into existence. Loree, too, has a late Victorian flair for the grand gesture. For example, he tried to buy the Diana from the old Madison Square Garden for his favorite institution, the New Jersey College for Women. Unsuccesful, he presented the stone lions from the old Waldorf instead. Visitors to Albany often mistake the D&H building for the state capital. Loree built it in the most elaborate Flemish style. The clasic Loree Gesture came at the outbreak of the war. Like thousands of other Americans, he found himself stranded in France. At once he chartered by cable the steamer Antilles and sailed back, bringing 252 fellow countrymen as paying guests.

On April 23, 1925, Loree celebrated his 67th birthday. Shortly afterwards he announced that he had embarked on a campaign to weld a dozen independent railroads into a system that would extend from New York to Kansas City and from Canada to Mexico. There is some doubt of his motives. His friends see nothing more that straighforward ambition. Observers more realisitcly minded have a subtler theory. They point out that some months before his announcement, the heads of the four Eastern Trunk Lines, the Pennsylvania, New York Central, the B&O, and the Van Swerigen roads-had met, without a word to Loree, and with pencil and paper, had divided among themselves the smaller lines of the East, including the D&H. If not inviting Loree to the conference is to be classed as a social error, it was one whose consequences were appaling. Loree immediately became belligerent.

He moved to counterattack. Once he gave three rules for success. The first two were commonplace. The third was simply “Be Audacious”. So Loree, the head of a railroad capitalized at $118,600,00, went out to do battle with four systems, the smallest of which was eight times as large. It was a campaign of endless marches and countermarches, the rape of the road, the battle for control of that, of appeals to the Interstate Commerce Commision, sitting enthroned above the conflict. For 2 years, Loree fought. In 1927 he admitted he was licked on the broad field of consolidating a new system. He narrowed down the fight to getting control of two roads which were essential to the projects of his opponents. These were the Lehigh Valley and Wabash. Throughout the summer and fall of 1927 he steadily bought into these roads.

When the next series of merger conferences took place, Loree, you may be sure, was invited to attend. The meeting were held in General Atterbury’s offices in Pennsylvania station. The veteran railroader didn’t seem at all interested in selling his Lehigh and Wabash holdings. The meetings dragged on, with everyone except Loree getting more and more worried. Along toward the spring the tension became unbearable, General Atterbury of the Pennsylvania called on Otto Kahn, Loeb & Co., bankers for both the D&H and Pennsylvania , and implored him to persuade Loree to sell out. During the next week the shaggy, ursine head of Loree and the sleek, well barbered head of Kahn bobbed in protracted conference. The upshot was that on April 27, 1928, Loree sold out to the Pennsylvania. The D&H received $63,000,000 for stocks which had cost $40,000,000.

More about Leonor F. Loree

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nelsonrockefeller

Nelson Rockefeller

Who brought Robert Moses down?

It was Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York State

He also formed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and saved the Long Island Railroad

Read more about him.

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traintimesbook

Harvard Professor John R. Stilgoe

Harvard Professor John R. Stilgoe states that: ‘Train travel will supplant highway and air travel in the next few decades. Furthermore, electric railroads will increasingly be used to distribute freight items as well as mail and express packages.’
According to Stilgoe the three prime factors driving railroad development are population growth, rising gas prices, and advanced technology.
“In the 1930s it was possible to order a fridge in the morning and have it delivered by train later the same day,” says Stilgoe. “Americans forgot about this, but we’re starting to put it back together.”
Stilgoe slso wrote an excellent yet overlooked book on railroads and the built environment shaped by them called Metropolitan Corridor:Railroads and the American Scene that I highly recommend.
Whats most interesting is that the book is 6 months old and already much has changed in that brief time to further move us toward a new era of the train and seemingly away from our old era of the highway and sprawl, particularly with respect to the financial crisis, foreclosure mess, high gas prices, politics of “change” and global warming awareness.

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oldestrailroaderin1964

Al Sherry


Al Sherry was the oldest railroader (89 years old) on the New York Central Railroad in 1964.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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Bert Daniels was engineer on the Rexall Train. Promoted to management. Returned to road service on the Ohio State Limited.

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Chauncey Depew Chairman of the Board.

He had 56 years of service on his eighty-eighth birthday in 1922 and still came into his office in the Grand Central Office Building.

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Plimmon H. Dudley (1843-1924) – metallurgist

Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley, the New York Central Railroad’s expert on rail metallurgy, would also accurately predict the weather. He was considered the “scientist of rails”. He died in 1924 at age 81. He had joined the New York Central in 1880 and had lived in the Hotel Commodore since it was built.

INTEREST IN FLAWLESS RAILS:
Steel men expressed great interest yesterday in the announcement made by President A.H. Smith of the New York Central Railroad that the road’s staff of specialists under the direction of Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley had discovered the cause and remedy for the hidden flaws in steel rails.

HOW ONE MAN HELPED MAKE RAILROADS SAFER; Inventions of Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley Point Out Roadbed and Track Defects and Make Steel Rails Impervious to Cold
By JOHN WALKER HARRINGTON.
February 17, 1924,
EVERY one of us who slips into a Pullman berth at night and wakes up safe and sound in a distant city owes a debt to Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley’s half century of the study of the steel rail. As his eighty-first birthday approaches, science and transportation are preparing to do him honor.

Gifts can become unworkable in many ways. Consider the Dudley Professorship of Railroad Engineering at Yale. The chair was created in 1923 with a $US152,679 gift from Plimmon H.Dudley, a New York Central Rail engineer.

His express desire, he said, was that his research into railway safety be continued, in particular in connection with the development and improvement of designs of rails, roadbeds and crossties.

But railway engineering lost its lustre as a hot academic topic. And the professorship sat vacant for more than 70 years.

“I was kind of stumped as to what to do with this chair,” Yale’s president, Richard Levin, admitted.

Then Yale realized that the steam engines and wood ties of yesterday had been replaced by today’s magnetic levitation and superconductivity. So since 2002, Stephen Morse, an engineer who has studied urban transportation and switching strategies for the control of uninhabited vehicles, has been the Dudley Professor of Engineering at Yale.

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Carl Englund passenger rail traffic/route designer

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Jason “Jay” Gould (May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892)

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Ken Knapp paid the NY Central Railroad for 47 years

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Alfred H Smith

President of New York Central Railroad from January 1914 to May 1918 and from June 1919 until his death.

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Bob Timpany New York Central Railroad architect of change

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Cornelius Vanderbilt (May 27, 1794 – January 4, 1877)

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William Henry Vanderbilt (May 8, 1821 – December 8, 1885)

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