It is Sunday, January 11, 1998. We are in Wilder, Vermont at the home of Herb Adams. Herb is an active member of the 494 Restoration
Committee as well as an active member in the White River Junction Chapter of the NRHS. In the years between World War II and the Korean conflict, Herb worked for the B&M as a yard man in the White
River Junction railroad yard. As an active reservist he was called back during the Korean War. Because of his railroad experience, he was assigned to run locomotives for the Army in Korea.
Interviewer: Have you always lived in Wilder?
HA: Just about, just about, since, I've been married, I've lived in other places in Sharon, North Hartland and around different places.
I: And you were telling me earlier that you were in Germany during the War or after the war.
HA: Yep Yep Yep I spent 3.5 years over there, between going in here
and going over there. I stayed over there six months longer, signed up for an extra 6 months and stayed in the Occupation for a while. Got my hat, my name drawed out of hat and went down for a week in Nice,
I: How was that?
HA: Lovely. (Laughs)
I: Did you get involved with railroading when you came back from...?
HA: Ya, I came back in 1946 and I was talking with Larry White,
Roland White not Larry, Larry's his brother, Larry lives over in West Lebanon, Roland lives up here and I told him that I had wrote a letter to
Pittsburgh-Mass to get a job on the B&M. Ah, he says hell don't do that, go on over and see Duffy. Duffy was the yardmaster over in the yard
and I went over and talked with him and in 15 minutes I had a job. They told me there wasn't any jobs on the Pittsburgh Division when they answered my letter.
I: What kind of a job?
HA: Yard, brakeman
I: They started you out as a yard brakeman, now what does that do?
HA: Well, you work the switches and switch the cars, I mean you don't run the switches, you work on the switches, working with the cars
separating them out doing this that and the other thing. We made up a train one night, I was down there and my brother was home from the Air Force and about 50 below zero. I don't remember what year it was.
It was in the '40's there, '47, '48 somewhere right along in there and colder than hell. The thermometer on the car knocker's shack said 55
below zero. You could take one of those switches and you couldn't haul 10 cars cause it would come in and stop and 20 minutes, 15-20 minutes those axles would be frozen, it was so goddam cold.
I: These were 0-4-0's or 0-6-0's or what...
HA: No by then we had the little 12's
I: 1200 horse power
HA: Yep. No we could normally, under normal circumstances, we could
pull 25 cars, then the loop the track that was on the further side, it came down from Nutt Street and then went back up. It wasn't a very heavy
grade but it was a slight grade. That didn't help when it got cold like that. We had 17 tracks and if you weren't really on the ball you could corner a few of them. No by the time I was there that was just feed
store and the other end of the yard way down was a tank yard for I can't remember the oil company that was in there. We had a couple other things.
I: You always worked in the yard?
HA: Yep. Oh, I'd go out on the main line. I've been to Berlin. I been out on helpers through to Canaan, Summit. I went down to Claremont
and worked on the Claremont local. That was fun. Interchange with the street railway. Those guys thought a lot of their electric engines. They had their whistles well polished and everything was nice and clean on
those engines. Spoke wheels.
I: Those are the little peanut whistles they call 'em, right. Just a single tube.
HA: Yeah, they were just a little one tube. They used air on them of course.
I: Did any of their engines have batteries so they could operate without...
HA: That I don't know, I mean we didn't have their engines. We had a
________ we went out through, past Newport before we got all done. And one of the last ones to have flapped the cars in the middle of
Newport right on Main Street. And that was surprising to me that they didn't have some sort of a light arrangement to where you could pull up
there and throw the switch and then go across the crossing, but no you had to go out there and stop the traffic and get everything all stopped
before they pull across. And then they'd pull across and when the engine came by you seeing's as how you were the head end man, you grabbed the handle and got on.
I: Now you worked on the Army railroad in the second war also?
HA: Yes, when I went in, I had stayed in the reserves, so they called me in and they shipped me down to Camp Campbell, Kentucky. And I
landed there and of course they wanted to know what I had been doing. Well, I'd been on the railroad here and bingo, I got the number of the
brakeman and I went FAST from there over, cause they were very short of people that knew anything at all about railroad. The first trip I made, I
was kind of leery of the gang that was there so I picked out a guy and asked him where the hell he was from. I can't remember his first name
but his last name was Roter and he was an engineer for the B&O and he worked passenger trains west out of Washington, D.C. And we went together and we went up from Pusson (sp?) up through to Tego (sp?).
I've forgotten how long it took us but batteries and so forth and so on, they didn't have it. And coming south we had a full train and we hit one
station and the fireman could speak perfect English and he came to me and said 'Hey we got about 6 inches of water left. Unless we get out of here next, we ain't going to make it to the next station. The next
station's got a water plug but there isn't one here.' So I went to the Dispatcher and I had the guy in the office get me the GI Dispatcher and I said I'm train such and such, I can't remember the number, out of
Tego and we're headed for Pusson. Now we need water. What do you need water for? I started in on a recitation of how you built up a nice
fire in the boiler you know and you got water in there and you go coal and you kept that thing going and when you got up enough steam... and
just about then somebody interrupted me--What's your name? And I told him. Well, he said, I tell you what, you get your fanny back on
your train because you're going to be out of there damn shortly. Down we went and got our water and I was, of course, being an experienced
railroad man, I kind of looked the train over a little bit to see if there was anything that would give us any problems. And this guy come along
and said you're wanted on the phone. I am? Yeah, you're Adams, aren't you? Yeah, OK. So I went in. It was the Major and he was the guy who interrupted us and sent me on our way. So he asked me where I
got my railroad experience and stuff such as that, you know. Got all done and I said by the way, where did you get your railroad experience?
Oh, he says, I was a trainmaster on the Great Northern. Got in, so we got all the way down, oh I don't know, yeah I probably got about three
hours sleep. They woke me up and said you're being transferred. I went to the yard. I went to the yard and I tried to get 'em to do little things
that would save time. Now why should anybody come along to a box car, determine it's empty and write out empty? Why not just put MT? Means the same thing, sounds the same. You couldn't get them, that's
just one example, but I tried, you couldn't get them to make even that little change. Well, no you wouldn't save yourself only about a half a
minute, but if you had 60 cars you'd save yourself 15-20 minutes, but you couldn't get it through their damned head and these guys were just
that. The dispatcher, they wanted to know what I needed water for and then a radio announcer. That's the kind of personnel they had to have
because they didn't have anybody that was experienced to speak of. And when I got run over, the Major that was in charge of the area down there came in and said well you're going to beat yourself to
Tokyo. I said what do you mean beat myself to Tokyo? He said well, in Korea we cannot promote a reservist but he says we can promote him
in Japan, so we were going to transfer you to Japan, give you a promotion and then bring you back again.
return to top
I: Can you back up a little bit and tell us about how you got run over or ...?
HA: Well, I just slipped, went down and when I slipped I tried to throw
myself away from the car cause I was right next to a bunch of cars moving and when I did my leg just went phew down underneath and
that was it. I lost just the foot but they had to cut it off up to the knee, 6 inches below the knee.
I: So you had an accident in Korea and basically they sent you back to Japan?
HA: Well, they send me to Japan, that's the first jump to going back to the States cause they wasn't going to keep me. That's what it amounted
to. Here's a cute one. This doesn't have anything to do with the railroad or anything else but it's still a cute one. We took off from Tokyo,
landed at Midway for lunch. We never felt that plane hit the runway it was so smooth. He got in there just beautiful. And I was up, I think the
third bunk up right up next to the cabin. The pilot came out and I reached out and tapped him on the shoulder and I said Goddam good
landing, captain, goddam nice one. And a lot of the other guys picked it up too, they noticed how smooth it was. He turned around at the door
before he went out. Wait till I get you bastards to Hawaii. How'd you like that one. So I stayed a week in Hawaii and then they flew me to
Tripler (sp?) General in California and then f rom there to Walter Reed down in Washington. With the reserve time and my army time, when I
came out, I got a retirement discharge. As far as the Army's concerned but I hadn't been retired because I went back and when I got discharged
and I talked to the doctors and the doctors said well, I told 'em what I'd be doing, I'd be switch tender. Well, he said why don't you hold off for
a while. So I said well you'd better give me a letter so I can give it to them cause I've got just one year from the time of discharge to get
back there and I don't want to spoil it up because I will want to go back to work for 'em. So they gave me the letter and I went down and
presented it to 'em and I said I don't know when I'll be, when they say OK I'll be back so when they said OK I went back.
I: Can you tell us about your experiences at White River Junction?
HA: Well, it was rather routine sort of stuff. I was all the way up to _______ conductor. There was John O'Neal here in White River. He and I were the top ones passing the flagman's exam that had ever
passed it. We had to go down to Concord, New Hampshire, down to the examiner's office down there to take it but he beat me by a little.
And I was right behind him and we had the top scores of anybody who passed the flagging exam between the two of us. They'd call me to go to
Berlin. I'd go up. If I was working the spare board for the yard and they needed somebody on the main line, they'd more or less sometimes, they
didn't have to call you from the yard by seniority, they could call the guy that they figured would be willing to go and I went to Berlin up on
the freights a couple of times and I went in the baggage car on 4301, 4308 that was the morning passenger train to Berlin and back. Well, it
was more the people than anything else. Cause White River Junction had the strangest set up that I've ever seen and anybody else that I've
talked with says the same thing. Of course the yard was a joint venture between the CV and the B&M. If you went down to White River down
to the lower yard down to the bull pen we'll start. The day switcher down there had a CV engine crew and a B&M ground crew. You come
to the second shift you had a B&M engine crew and a CV ground crew. At night you had B&M all the way through. You went up to Nutt Street
and you had three switches up there but they were all B&M there weren't any mixture on those. Up to the CV yard, first shift switcher
was all CV, the second shift was the B&M and CV ground crew mixed plus the B&M engineer and fireman and then you had an extra switcher
around for passengers after 11 o'clock and the night switcher up in the yard was all CV and you had an extra one around the station for the
passenger trains cause that's when the bulk of your passenger trains went through and they was needed for switching. Probably shouldn't
use his name so I guess I won't but they had a conductor on that night switcher they used to call him the platform conductor. He never got off
the platform; his two brakemen were the only ones that went down and done anything. He got nicknamed the platform conductor.
I: He's still around in other words.
HA: Oh, he lives up north of town. His father was the day switch tender at Nutt Street, not Nutt street at the diamond. We had Angelo Deparma
down at Nutt Street. He had gone down between two box cars, he was up on top, something happened, lost his balance and went down
between two of the box cars and lost, can't remember if it is was the left or right arm, but he lost one of his arms up above the elbow. And he
told me that the guy that looked the accident over, came back to him and said boy you made a damn good attempt to stop yourself 'fore you
got to the bottom. He left fingernail marks all the way down the end of that car and they were plain from the way he told me. Of course you get desperate when you are in a situation like that.
I: So tell us about your trip to Berlin, you were telling us over at the Model Railroad Club once about that.
HA: Well, you'll have to give me a jog on that
I: About your, what 30 minutes from Wells River or something, you said it never come down so fast.
HA: Oh yeah yeah yeah we picked up on the Wells River lower yard
that's where the CP'd come down and they'd set off and it was a turn job. They come down and they'd set off the stuff going to Berlin then
they'd take the stuff over into Woodsville they needed to do there and they'd pick up the cars that the other freights had brought up and they'd
go back to Newport. And we backed in there, now this wasn't the Berlin job that I had this on, this was a turn job that we'd gone up and
deposited our cars and now were headed back with a turn job. We met the CP turn job there and had a green mad on the head end and I wasn't a regular main line man but I was the only one between the two
of us that had flagging credentials so I had to be the flagman. Of course, he backed in and coupled up and left the buggy on the main line and he
headed out, pulled out on the main line, backed onto the buggy and I ______ the hitch, turned the angle cocks and everything for the air and
I didn't hear anything. And he started, I gave him a signal, he started go along and all the cars that we'd left on the main line, every brake was
dragging but those that CP had left on the siding, they weren't. Now how the hell they'd lost all their air in their cylinders, I don't know. But
I gave him a big wash out and he stopped and I walked down and I said Now hey Cypher. This was Cypher Goodwin and he was a speed demon and he says what's the matter and I says well you haven't got
any air on that train back there. Now experienced engineer he couldn't look at his gauge and have told that even before he started? And I said
now I'm going to cut it in and I want you to give me the right kind of speed so I can make ___buggy. It's OK. So away he went and I ___ the
buggy and when I got on the buggy I pulled my watch out and looked at it. It's 40 miles-40 minutes later we were going across the diamonds and
you were only supposed have been 45. There was Eva Caldwell (sp?), he lived up in Hartford. He went north with a helper and he went all the
way to Woodsville with it, Wells River I should say. Got it turned headed back and this was a night so Wells River was where he had to
pick up his orders to go South. He didn't have a flagman or anything, just he and the fireman, just an engine that's all there was. And he went
and got his orders and the dispatcher wanted to know if he could beat going to White River ahead of 79. And he replied, well if you give me
orders, I'll do it. OK. He got out on the main line and he went in ahead of 79. He pulled into White River ahead of time and of course he had to
sign off. Well, he never ran an engine from that day forward. He was restricted to being a fireman. (Laughter). He'd do what the dispatcher more or less wanted him to do.
I: He had a 19?? order, didn't he, signed and sealed and all that?
HA: No he didn't have an order. They wouldn't give him an order to get in there ahead of 79.
I: Oh they just asked him if he could do it and let him go.. And then racked him up doing it.
HA: That's what he said. They give me an order of that and he went anyway.
I: They were rather unforgiving on a lot of things. They wanted you to do things but then...
HA: Oh yeah, on a lot of that stuff. All he did was get the firing job on
the second shift switcher up in the CV yard and Christ, take him home, take the switcher down and leave it side the station and (laugh) he didn't
have to travel anywhere. Old Cy Goodwin he was on the day switcher, he was a real character. And he like to tip the bottle quite a little bit and
long about 1:30, 2:00 o'clock, he'd get the head brakeman to go over to the liquor store. That's when it was opposite Miller's Auto. Get him a
bottle and he headed home. And he hadn't opened it one day and he went off the road up by Seminary Hill School, cops came and they
found the bottle. They took the bottle and away they went and they left him a ticket. He went charging over to the station a little bit later that
day, it kind of dawned on him, he wanted his bottle of booze. You can't have it that's evidence you were drinking. You get that goddam bottle
out here. They got it out and set it on the counter. Goddam seal wasn't broken. They couldn't use it for evidence. They had to give it back to
him. (Laughs). He wasn't dumb by any means. When it dawned on him, he went right after em. So they didn't have that for evidence or
anything like that to use in court. He came out, I don't know, I never could figure out just how he had enough room to do it, but he must
have, cause he always worked that afternoon switcher and they always went up by where the court house is to where he parked the car and he
was pretty well, he'd been nipping and he came out and he went off. Do you remember the old bridge that was there by the fire station?
I: The one that washed out?
HA: Yeah, The one that had the ramps up the side and then went over. He went up one side and tipped that car right in the middle of the road. How in hell he done it I don't know but he done it.
return to top
I: Now were you working over there when they stole 494 out of the West Lebanon round house?
HA: Oh, it was bouncing around. Yeah. When they wanted to move it up to the where the town office is there, of course they brought it down
from the CV yard down the CV side of the station and up the B&M side you might say. George Reeves, the big deal boy, was the yard master at that time and so I said to George, I was going home at 8
o'clock, I said you need any help? I'd just like to help you on that if you... Nope, we got plenty of help. So they took it up and I don't know
what the hell is up there now but it's in behind the garage there. You went up and there was a Mobil oil plant up in there and they had about
half a dozen big tanks. And they started and shoo fly type of thing there they just kept moving it ahead down across and when they got down to
the under pass, they built a ramp right over the track and then they put it over there. That's how they done that. But I didn't get in on that.
I: What kind of condition was it in at that point?
HA: Well, when they had it up at the CV yard, I've talked with a guy by the name of John Quincy Adams, he lives out in Canaan, he was working the CV round house at the time and he said it was in pretty
decent shape. Well, of course, they hadn't never run it in the time the put it through the shop. 1938? They put it through the shop, they hadn't
run it. So she was in good shape naturally. She's really not in all that bad shape except the damn trucks underneath the tender and that's the
first damn thing that they should have been pushing to do in my idea. When they started painting it, I didn't think it really was in that much
need of a paint job, but the thing should have been what was needed and that trucks under the tender's what's needed. They've got the
material but they haven't got no way of moving that caboose back so they can pull that tender a little bit away from the ... it's got to happen.
That's the way they're going to have to do it and then they're going to have to get a jack on each corner and jack it up and so they can run
those trucks out so they can get them the hell out from underneath there so they can work on em.
I: Now you didn't get down to Concord very much, you
HA: No I never went through to Concord. No I've worked the Canaan local a few times and stuff like that, but I never went all the way through to Concord.
I: Were you out to Canaan when they had that, what was it, the guy through the switch on a passenger train
HA: Well, this I hold as really the dispatcher's fault. Because the
southbound always met right there at Canaan and they held the main line, the southbound did. So when the southbound landed there, the brakeman or the baggage man, we probably should call him that, went
up and set the switch for the northbound to go in the siding. So the guy for some reason the northbound didn't seem to have an inkling of what
in the hell he was doing. He came in there pretty goddam fast when he came in. The baggage man set the switch on the south end cause he'd
read the order, let em in to the siding on the south bound train. Well, he got busy in the baggage car because that's what he would normally do,
he'd set that switch and let em where they go up the main line, so he just got back on and got busy there in the baggage car working and he
almost time for that train to get there and they were late, that's why it was set up that way, so it give the southbound a better chance. So all of
a sudden it dawned on him that he hadn't set that switch for that train to come in. So, it never even dawned on him going out there and setting
that switch where he was. He just had it in his mind that he had to set that switch. So he went out there and he set it and they came. The
engineer see it coming that it was on the southbound and I talked with him afterwards and he jumped up and started back, they hit, threw him
out there in the alley way in the diesel pulled both shoes off em. He lost both shoes. (Laughs) They hauled the brakeman in but I don't think
they should have. It wasn't malicious or anything, it was just a plain mistake. It's just the same as Newbury. That was human error. You got
two spots up there that are just about alike. You got an old farm type bridge the wooden ones, you know, and just beyond that is a switch for
a siding. You go down the road closer to Newbury and there's another one. Well, the thing of it was he was supposed to have gone in the first
siding. He may have been distracted. He didn't see it so he went right by that one and they met in between the two sidings.
I: What year was this?
I: And what was the result of that meeting?
HA: Well, it didn't matter to much on that because the engineer got killed. The first thing he wanted to know, he was still awake when
somebody come along. What'd I do run into the Berlin job? Nope, you ran into 78.
I: I understand that was a pretty brand new engineer, that fellow, one of em was
HA: One of em
I: ____ from over in Wentworth?
HA: Yeah yeah The older engineer had already had a flop or wreck like that, but it was a situation where he missed seeing the first siding where
he was supposed to have been. And went by that, That was steam 3600s, P2s
I: That was a foggy morning?
HA: I don't know, I don't remember whether it was or not. It probably
was because he also misted the landmarks, probably was.
I: It pretty well demolished both of those locomotives.
HA: Yeah, I got some pictures somewhere.
I: The one out in Mascoma Lake, were you involved in cleaning that up?
HA: No, no but I got some Christmas presents out of it.
I: Christmas presents?
HA: Yeah, the brought some of the cars there and they put them in the tracks between the diamonds and the White River Bridge over on that
north Y there are some side tracks in there. They put them in there. Guys got into em. One of the carloads that was full of these games, Monopoly and so forth (Laughs). Well, they had one just south of
Fairlee. My brother-on-law was working in a filling station up there to Fairlee and he told me and just about everybody else in Fairlee they didn't buy any flour for about two years (laughs).
I: Now this is the one that the tank car burned up there, mid-50's wasn't it?
HA: Yeah yeah the engineer had been a fireman for a friend of mine,
Mernard Barber off the CP. Mernard was quite a character, he was a gun collector and I was collecting guns at the time, so we'd go down to
this guy down in Claremont, I'd pick him up and he'd come in on the CP freight, and I'd pick him up and we'd go down to Claremont. I
walked into the bunk house, the B&M bunkhouse down there in White River, West Lebanon there one day and I says Hi Mernard and he says
Hey I want to tell you some thing. What's that. Well, he says you know Willy done one hell of a big job today. Willy was standing there looking
at him. He did? Yeah, Mernard said. He really did. It's really a hell of a job that he done today. Willy kept looking at him and all of a sudden
Willy says, if I did such a goddam wonderful big job what the hell was it, Well goddam it you took a shower, look at the square inches of skin
you had to wash. Willy weighed pretty near 300 pounds. There was a lot of characters like that.
I: The bunkhouse in West Lebanon, was that used only by B&M or CV
HA: Well anybody that was coming in and leaving their engine at the B&M yard. The brakemen as far as off the trains generally went to the
Gates, that was well where the Gates Opera House up there in that area there was a Gates Hotel up there then.
I: So the last time that bunkhouse was full, well that's quite a big building
HA: That was a good sized building yeah year
I: That must have been probably WWII was the last time it was really used to its capacity.
HA: Yeah yeah yeah
I: Is that the one that burned up there?
HA: Yeah somebody set that cause there was no electricity and no heat in it so it had no other way of catching fire.
I: There was a bunch of wooden boxes and stuff that was piled up in it
and torched, that's what set it off.
HA: Yeah somebody doesn't want to make a park out of that. It'd be a good area for a park down in there.
I: Yes that's an interesting thing. A fellow by the name of Leonard Lucas came over to talk to us in West Lebanon about that, cause he
said the City should have right of first refusal on that entire property. There's 22.5 acres in there and on a Monday evening at 8 o'clock he
told us nothing would happen to any of the buildings or any of the facilities in West Lebanon yard until the Guilford offered it to the City
one way or the other either free or for so many dollars. And as of Wednesday morning of that same week, Mr. Jancey(sp?) had cut up the
turntable and punched a hole through the boiler room and taken out the boilers in the steam room down there.
HA: I see where they're negotiating for that stretch there to Lebanon.
I: According to Bill Brigham that's pretty near in the bag, I don't know.
HA: Yeah, it might be but the funny part about it ya know was when
they wanted to see about putting gravel train up there, Guilford told them that bridge wouldn't hold, wouldn't hold the locomotive. The next
goddam thing they knew, Guilford was putting the three units of the diesel across it. (laughs) When they built that bridge in , I don't know if
it was 1927 or 1936 flood, they parked engines on both tracks on that bridge right out there during the flood just so it would hold it right down.
I: It would have been a lot more expensive to replace if the water had taken it out, though, with all the locomotives on it.
HA: Oh, well, the characters. A fellow by the name of Ross lives up to
Newbury. He used to work down here in the yard and at the time they closed Woodsville, they transferred just about all the brakemen down
here and Hod Hill (sp?) and Ross lives in Hod Hills house that he used to live in Newbury. Hod was a character and they had a fireman at the
time, Jimmy Chalmers, he became an engineer afterwards and Jimmy was one that like to wander. So they parked their engine that day and
didn't have anything to do and were waiting for something to do so Hod came along and looked at it, grabbed the shovel and he started pouring
the coal right into the furnace. He filled that right up and mounded it right in right up over the door. Jimmy came back and, of course, the
fire wasn't doing too well so the steam was down just a little bit. Jimmy looked at that, grabbed a shovel got a shovelful, hit that automatic door
opener and he put that coal all over the cab. It wasn't going to go anywhere (laughs) and he came along after the shift is pretty near done
and he patted Hod on the shoulder and says thank you Hod. What the hay you thanking me for? Well, he says all I had to do was run that fire
for the rest of the shift, just take the poker and poke the coal down. (laughs) But the best one and I never found out who done it. Somebody
must have had two boxes of torpedoes at least. They started at Nutt Street and I don't know how close together they put em. They came
right up around the south Y and they were up all the way up to where the gravel company is. And one of the goddam freights, you ought to
have heard the racket that day. Duffy who was the yardmaster lived in like a baggage car but it'd been made over and fixed up inside so they
had a bedroom, and living room and a kitchen and of course it took him right out of bed at night time. But you can imagine from Nutt Street all
the way up around there, that son of a bitch. The engineer never let up on the throttle, in fact I think he opened it up a little wider just to go on around.
return to top
I: That's over a mile around through there.
HA: All together yeah it'd be close to a mile yeah. The one I like the best, of course the mixture of the crew down on the second shift in the
bull pen CV to B&M engine, CV ground crew. Frank Spaulding lived over on center to Town Road on the further end and Bill Plummer was
the engineer and he lived up just above opposite the Seminary Hill School and they anytime Frank would start something, Bill would take
the other side. Bill was a real sharp old boy. Finally, they were arguing along one day and Spaulding turned around and what the heck you
trying to do make a fool out a me? Bill says perish the thought. Nature beat me to it. (laughs)
I: The CV round house was used up to the last. At what point did
HA: Oh, I can't really say on that when they quit using it. They had some CV in it right along even though the engine part was rented out to
somebody else. They had their offices there. CV operator was there and so forth.
I: What about on the New Hampshire side, Westborough, when's the last time you know that was actually used?
HA: Oh, I really don't have any recollections on that?
I: Did you work with John Fielding?
HA: Yep yep yep, not much because John was main line, I was yard.
I: Jessie Truman?
HA: Oh yeah.
I: You sure like to rub against that, don't your?
HA: Yeah worked with his son over in Split Ball too. There was one guy, you know where the T&R out beyond Hartford, he's got the falls
coming down behind it, Bernham, he lived there and he had an awful family and they kept telling him, we're going to have to stop that bootlegger from whistling. The bootlegger was a Washingtonian and
Montrealer. Why? Well, he says every time you get woke up by that whistle you make another baby (laughs) Somebody thought that up and
they pulled it on him and it stuck. They said every time that bootlegger whistled up through there Wayne made another baby.
I: Did they have a lot of problems with whiskey being run down?
HA: Well, the pullman porter that came in on the night pullman, the bootlegger dropped one there at White River, the rear pullman and
you'd see him during the day, he'd go over to the liquor store and he'd come back with box after box. Some days it was more than other days.
That's what he was doing. He was taking liquor back to New York with him. And that's where the Washingtonian and the Montrealer got its name because it would come down and it would be loaded with
whiskey during the prohibition. But they could buy booze up here in Vermont cheaper than they could down there in New York. That's how he got it.
I: Nobody ever bothered to look in the train to see if there was any...?
NA: Well, they didn't bother too much because it was mainly the
pullman porters and stuff lie that and if they wanted to do that they'd had to open everybody's luggage because they would just take a few
bottles. It wasn't that it was a mass bootlegging situation. No it was maybe 50% of the people on the train would have one or two, maybe
three bottles and it was just that you couldn't buy it in the United States at the time but you could in Canada and bring it down so it was illegal in
that sense but still not that bad. They didn't push it because it wasn't organized in that sense.. We had a number of em around here that were
organized. Back in the late 30's I was showed a bootleggers car that had all kinds of compartments in it (laughs) that you couldn't spot unless you knew where to look.
I: Was there any big to do when the bicentennial train came through?
NA: You want to see a flyer on that?
NA: There's one right behind you. You see those CV books, straight in
it's in among those, no keep going to the bigger ones, the big ones John. God I'm looking at it.
I: Through the Woods to Winnepesaukee.
NA: Pull that one right there.
I: This one?
NA: No that's not it.
I: There's this one here that says Narrow Gauge.
NA: Well, I was just looking at it. Oh it's in back, no where the hell did I. Christ, I was just looking at it before you guys came.
I: A ha
NA: There you go.
I: That's interesting. We the people of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut,
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia do ordain and declare and
establish the following constitution for the government of ourselves and our posterity. That's what that says. Now this came through with what
was it nickel plates Berkshire on the front end or was it the 484 or 614 of B&O?
NA: Well, it was the one that burned up
I: The one that burned up
NA: I don't remember exactly but I know it wasn't the one they had planned on. They had planned on one of the daylights from out in California but there were some curves on the B&M where she went
around the curves the side, the clearance wouldn't have been there, they would have scraped the buildings.
I: A steam locomotive
I: How do you burn up a steam locomotive?
NA:: Wooden cab (laughs)
I: Plus the fact that if you're out of water that fire does a pretty good job on the boiler plate too.
I: When everything gets to be cherry red and it's all in together and it
goes caboom, you could figure it's burned up.
I: Chuck was talking about some locomotive that was up here, oh he said there was one up here in the Connecticut River, north of the dam?
NA: Yeah there's somewhere up there, I don't know where it is, I've been told. It's been up there a long time.
I: Would have that have been just a two foot one used to build the dam or was that a diesel?
NA: No no no there wasn't any two footers here to build the dam not unless they were there to build the paper mill. They had those two
footers up to the Fifteen Mile Falls, they used em up there, but they didn't use em down here. No this was a wreck and I have no idea where the location is. I've never found anybody who could tell me
where the location was.
I: Didn't you tell us that you went on the, what was it a plow extra over to Plymouth and back around?
NA: (laughs) Yeah that's right. I got called to go on the Plymouth local
right up through Woodsville, down through Plymouth, New Hampshire. Put up over night. We went in there, of course, went up town and had
some supper in a restaurant. Went to the movies, I don't remember the movie, but came back out and they, the guy that was with me was
Wingate. He used to live in the north end of Wilder but he lived over in Hartford at the tail end of it and he had, that was his permanent job, so
he had a place up in the boarding house. So he took me up and they had a bed so we went to bed. We came down the next morning. We went to bed about 10 o'clock. There wasn't a damn cloud in the sky.
Got up the next morning and there was over 8 inches of snow in Plymouth. So we went to the restaurant and got some, got sandwiches and got some breakfast and we headed down by the freight house and
the guy in the freight house, Hey you guys have been canceled. You're going to Concord to run a snow plow. I though Oh shit (laughs). So I
didn't have, we didn't have anything left so in the buggy, I didn't anyways so we just went back up to the station and the buggy was picked up and brought up to Woodsville and then back down to White
River but we went, got on one of those gas electrics and the conductor was already there. I walked in, of course, I hadn't been here long
enough to have a pass of my own, you had to have a year in before they'd give you a pass. And I told the conductor, I says, hey I don't
want to pay for this trip so you'll have to vouch for me (laughs). He kind of laughed, a don't worry about it. So we went down through to Concord and honest to God nobody in Concord had done anything
about cleaning the switches out so we could get the snow plow. We got the engine, went to get the snow plow and all we were doing for an
hour and a half was sweeping switches. And they kept wondering where in the hell we were. Well, we had to sweep switches so we could throw
em. If you were a leading point, you had to have that damn thing over there. So we finally got it out and got organized and got our orders and
then we came up through. I got rolled. I didn't get in the right position after throwing a switch. When he went by snow just rolled right over
me (laughs). So I shuck myself off and got out and went along. Got to Laconia, two of the section hands, course they had four section hands
with us to do the extra work, disappeared. And I turned around to the section foreman and I said where the hell's your men? Oh he says I
don't know, I imagine they've gone to the liquor store. Well, goddam, they both come back with bottles, two of em.
I: So you worked your way from Concord back to Woodsville instead
of coming back up through West Lebanon?
NA: Yeah, well we didn't come to West Lebanon, We put up at Woodsville when we got there and they wanted us to stay there over
night and go back to Concord. I says, hey I'm a Fitchburg yard man, I'm not going to stay up here. Oh all right. I said you ought to be able to
find yourself somebody by tomorrow morning. Wingate says my home base is White River Junction and I'm going so we both went over to Wells River and caught a CP freight and went home. The conductor
wrote the ticket up. Of course, me I'm a yardman, wrote the ticket up so I was paid continuous time from the time we left Concord until I got
back into White River Junction that night. They could justify that because of me being a Fitchburg division yardman up there. I had to get back to my own home terminal.
return to top
I: A little over 12 hours though wasn't it?
NA: Yeah (laughs)
I: What's the longest trains that came out of White River headed north? What was the maximum?
NA: Well, it was a general rule was about 95 cars. The Berlin job always came in with 95 cars every night. So they go around the loop,
put 25 cars on the short, take the engines to the house but CP would come down and they had D10s which were a 10 wheeler and they would have 50 or 60 cars as a general rule.
I: The washouts up along Route 5 there happened almost
NA: Since they shut down
I: Well, they happened a lot more during the years too other than the 28 flood
NA: Well, I don't remember of any wash outs up that road at all.
I: They have a picture of some train up along, I think it's along Route 5,
where the guy is standing there and there is water up over the rails and all over. Was that uncommon
NA: Well, they had kind a places that it was kind a common but I don't
remember of any washout through there, I don't. They had just as much trouble down between here and Canaan in some respects on that stuff.
I: How was it working on the yard in the winter time?
NA: (laughs) You worked careful. You went carefully. No they they done pretty well. The CV would bring down a Jordan spreader and they
would start in of course, that wing would come way out so they'd go down this track and they'd plow that track and then push all the snow
over there and then they would back up and come into the next one and just go to the next track but just use the wing to push that stuff over.
Then they 'd keep pushing it over until the last run they made was on the main line and they had it over the bank. But there was one guy they
told him not to try to jump any cars. He was green, he hadn't been at it very long and he tried to jump one of those cars in a snow bank, well
with the engines going by it rolled up stuff in between the two tracks. They hadn't plowed it yet and he slipped and went down and lost a leg;
the only accident I know of in White River yard, counting both yards, that anybody lost anything.
I: Now where did Johnson get killed at, wasn't that...
NA: Oh, he was on the main line
I: Down upon the south end right?
NA: Yeah, right opposite the yard office. He came down and I don't know just exactly, Harry was awful cautious and paid attention to what
and where, but he walked right in front of that train. He got hit with that ____ car kawham and that was it.
I: He was coming out of the yard office?
NA: No he was going to work. He had the day switcher ______ and he was going to work.
I: It struck me that working the yards at night was much different
NA: Oh, yeah yeah yeah
I: Cause those cars you think they make so much noise in the daytime, but at night they sneak up on you and you don't even hear em.
NA: Oh, yeah I put quite a lot of time on the night switcher down there,
midnight to eight. I had that permanent job for a while. No we didn't...
I: Did they allow a drop where you'd run by and uncouple and then
throw the switch and let the car go down after it went buy was that allowed?
NA: Well, it wasn't whether it was allowed or not. We never had that
opportunity cause because all our stuff was just plain switching down the lead. No we weren't out on the main line and dropping cars and
stuff like that. That's more out that way. Because in the yard if you had a car you wanted to get on the other end of ya, all you had to do was
set it here and go out around it. You had enough run arounds so it didn't matter. The thing that I don't know where in hell the thing came from
but we were up about half way between Nutt Street and the station. Of course there was a lot more track in there then than there is now. All of
a sudden we heard a hell of a clattering noise. Turned around and looked. A piece of steel about that long, and I don't remember exactly
how wide it was, it wasn't very wide, laying right on the frog and here's a train coming right through that switch. And not one car derailed. Being
steel on that one side tipped it up this way and the flange just came against this rail and it just kept guiding right straight through.
NA: Yeah. We took the piece of steel the hell off the rail fore somebody did but they got through with that one without anything happening. The
VA was built up here in 1937 or so was it. They had a car come in, this was just, before World War II, but they were telling me about it. They
had contracted with Cadillac for an ambulance and back then they transported the cars in 50 footers that were a little bit higher than the
regular box car. They could jack em up and so forth. But they put this one in all by itself and the No. 1 track on the end, the automobile cars
you could open them on the end and they brought that up the end of the platform and they opened it up and there the car, the ambulance had
been going back and forth on the inside of that car. (laughs). They took it out of there and took it down to Miller's and Miller ordered all the
new parts and rebuilt it for em. There were telling me about it, that's nothing I knew because that was before my time.
I: Harry Johnson was talking about a wreck a car train that wrecked up
here. They used to bring the cars in at an angle.
NA: Yeah well there not cars. Ford had an assembly plant down in Framingham, MA and the parts came through. The chassis came in a
gondola on an angle. Now everyone of these bridges had the clearance from here to Boston made up for those things but they forgot about the
fact Mother Nature can cause an awful lot of business. They had a frost heave in one bridge (crunching noise) took all the goddam, the whole load of chassis. (laughs)
I: Yeah, that frost sure played hell with the tracks in the spring there some places. See em settling and raising. Of course the road bed under some of it wasn't all that great to begin with.
NA: No it wasn't all that great to start with No.
I: If they'd have put the road bed like the interstate highway it would have....
NA: (Laughs) I wouldn't say that the interstate highway's done too well
in some places. There is somewhere, I don't know if you've every heard of it John, but there's supposed to have been a freight wreck just
south of White River Junction down here and I've never been able to find out anything on it.
I: It was down somewhere around where the gravel pit was
I: Somewhere down along the river there.
NA: Yeah, I haven't been able to find anything on that one
I: Whose line is it on?
NA: That would be the CV.
I: Around what period?
NA: I don't know. I mean I've never been able to find anything so I can
nail down anything to speak of on that. All I know is I've been told there was a wreck down there.
I: I though someone said it was prior to 1900, but I don't know.
NA: It might be. You know about that great railroad that used to run out of South Royalton, don't you?
I: Great railroad?
NA: Yeah, the Jiggerville Electric Railroad? Well, that was quite a thing.
This is something else. This guy was a little bit of a joker when he _____. Had a stagecoach route from White River, hear me again, from South Royalton up to Chelsea and so Jigger is the name of South
Tunbridge and he probably lived there so he named it Jigger Electric Railroad. And you ought to, I've got somewhere around here an article
come out in one of the Vermonter magazines on it. It was nothing but a horse drawn stage. He sold tickets for all kinds of stops and the first guy
that he hired to go along with him was the man that owned the mail route from South Royalton. So he had the mail route go up through. One of the trainmen's rules was that Train 50 and 51 would stop for
one hour and twenty minutes at all post offices, that's where they left the mail off, post offices to allow the post master or post mistress to
read all the postcards. (laughs) He was a real joker, I'm telling you. God I can't remember now, I think it was way back in the '70's when the
article was written. But it had my father and my grandfather because my grandfather lived right on that road to Tunbridge tell about it. He didn't last too long but.
I: Now you finished out your railroading as what gatekeeper or at
NA: No switchtender.
I: Switchtender, out there by where the ball signal was by the station?