Louisville and Nashville Railroad
Telegrapher for the Clinchfield Railroad. Tried Southern Railroad, then L&N at 17. Yard assignment, the road in April 1918. Types of engines fired, description of engines, pay from Cincinnati to Louisville. Routes worked ditching machines. Types of L&N engines. Engines made at the South Louisville Shops. How nickname was acquired. Individuals along the route that watch for the train. Saw-by term explained and example of close call with head on collision. People killed or hurt by trains. Family relationship with railroad. Anecdote about flood. Poems, language, railroad slang. "General" story. Personalized engines. Phasing out steam engines. Use of telegraph skills. Biggest changes in railroad procedures; electric blocks. Names attached to areas along the route, railroad men's stop along the way, ordering lunches for passengers. Famous passengers: General Pershing, John L. Lewis, President FD Roosevelt. Comparison of salaries over the years. 1955 strike, scabs. L&N presidents served under. Emphasis on growth of the railroad. Runs served on and favorite engineers. Modernization of process by which engineers received orders. Process of becoming an engineer.
Introduction: Narrator's family background and its long connection with the coal fields and the railroads of the eastern United States. Main topics: background on the Clinchfield Railroad and its role in industrial development in the Atlantic coast areas; importance of coal traffic to the L&N Railroad; history of the three major coal reserves: eastern Kentucky; western Kentucky; and northern Alabama; coal routes and changes in both railroad and mining technology; description of the major coal types and the uses of each.
Family background and early years with other railroads: Southern and the Pennsylvania, for more than 16 years. Left Penn Railroad to sell railroad accessories. Total of 20 years spent in railroading, mostly with the Union Switch and Signaling Company in New York City, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Came to position at L&N by acquaintance with Mr. Kendall at the Pennsylvania Railroad. At L&N, organized advanced program maintenance and capital expenditure; promoted togetherness of the L&N family and positive feelings. Reorganized accounting department, started public relations; justified to the president all expenditures. Procedures for request from various depts. and presentation to the board of directors for all money spent. Discussion of the Osborn Yard in Louisville. Osborn Yard and the importance of Telex system and real time to L&N. South Louisville shops and the bad order ratio of rolling stock; renovation and new machinery; one stop repair satellite shops. Budgetary process: preplanning and projected needs, meeting with department heads, emergency measures, close relationship with deparments and their heads. Holding companies formed by the railroads to diversify their services. Transportation field from the manufacturing side rather than of the railroad. Maintenance of way, communication and signal needs, national microwave system, package deals and systems of equipment, government funding of highway crossing and flasher gates, railroads' roles in developing research such as test tracks, having railroad using department to generate ideas and where there is competition and cooperation among railroad or suppliers. Mergers, positive and negative aspects of recent mergers and pending mergers recalled.
Overview: 1926 L&N track man until 1928. Rejoined the L&N in 1948; reflections on President Harry Truman, Thomas Dewey and events of that campaign. Talked with President Truman about problems of segregation. Experiences of pre-integration. Events on day Martin Luther King was assassinated. Turning in purse lost on Derby Day led Owen White being moved into Mr. Kendall's private offices. Attached to boat Cloe Bee for seven years. Had opportunity to make many contacts. Later worked at Guest House at 4201 Tournament Lane. Examples of interesting opportunities, taking players to Master's Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Description of being track man in 1920 and type of lodging that was standard. Feelings about Roosevelt, Thompson Restaurant, Henry Bickel's, Watterson Hotel, and sharing among people in the 1930s. In the 1940s, L&N needed workers and rejoined. Talks about segregation on L&N RR. Reflections on segregation procedures. Other transportation experiences north and south. Comparison of wartime Macon, Georgia and the present date, 1980. Reasons for remaining in Louisville, different pressures in railroad position and regular day-to-day life. Explanation of railroad passes. 1950: Changes to keep passenger services going. Scheduling problems with being on the president's staff. Greater Salem Baptist Church. Supplemental check and explanation of straight salary. Union benefits and experiences, strike of 1956. Integration experiences for son at Male High School. Money raising experiences at Male in 1960 as they relate to racial relations. Attachment to Mr. Kendall's office, difference in attitude towards Mr. Jones, people served. Lost financial security with last position, relationship with other blacks, other individual, Southern politics, possibilities of black power in relations with whites.
Early years in Louisville and his marriage. Circumstances surrounding his employment at L&N. Different cooks that he worked with on the L&N diners. Method of cooking and stocking diners, types of equipment, coal burning stoves, and resupply procedures. Menu and effects of World War II on the regular menu. Differences in hours before and after the union took over workers. Description of away quarters and monetary considerations on layovers. Changes by unionization - gains offset cutbacks. Public relations very minimal therefore no negative racial aspects of his job. Special runs such as trips to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and Chamber of Commerce trips to eastern and western Kentucky. Differences in manning special runs. Attachment to executive office and worked as porter by night to be free for private cars in the daytime. White's experiences at the Murphy House: guests, description of the house and methods of entertaining. Living arrangements for the White family while assigned to the Murphy House; furnishings and day-to-day considerations for care of the house. Pleasures of working with various individuals connected with the L&N railroad. Reasons behind family feeling of L&N employees. Diner allotment and term "dead-end" explained. Swing shift explained; crews per diner, variety of diners, types of fuel used to fire stoves and the duration of meals.
Miami City ticket agent in 1928; Atlantic Coast Line & Seaboard Coast Line. Promoted to city passenger agent in 1929 in New York City; went to Wall Street on Oct 29, the day the stock market fell. Job cut back, returned to Duke University. Peninsula & Occidental Ship Line position in Havana, Cuba - 8 years. Mr. Davies, President Atlantic Coast Line, offered job in Wilmington, North Carolina. Circumstances of meeting JB Hill. Became general passenger agent to New Orleans in July 1942. Connection between ACL, Bet-A-Million Gates, JP Morgan, Henry Walters, and the take over of L&N stock. New Orleans, passenger service, military trains, first diesel and JB Hill's attitude. JB Hill and Charles Kettering of General Motors, research on improving diesels. Investments into trying to continue to maintain passenger service, phase out local passenger service and problems encountered, specialties in the dining car. Decline of passenger travel tied to airlines and development of the interstate highway system in 1950s. Involvement of railroads and Whitsett in attempt to save passenger service, arrangements with other railroads, description of passenger accommodations, railroad's continued support of passenger service until it was obviously financially impossible to continue. Budd car possible answer but resistance by labor unions made it impossible for L&N to utilize. Work rule 100 miles=day/run/pay. Changes in union leaders' attitude was reflected in quality of work after civil rights activities began - helped to destroy passenger service. Railroad did not have control over service situation. Community relations and the responsibility of the position. Similarity between the railroad & military structure. Age factor in the L&N management. Stenographer for 40 years or more. Explanation of Traffic/Freight Traffic Department. Reflections of Kendall's presidency.
Background prior to coming to L&N. Apprenticeship with L&N and rise through the ranks to Vice-President for Operations. Wiggins' father's experience with L&N, 1922; Decatur, 1937: to Louisville. Apprenticeship program. Change in types of craftsmen needed by the railroad. Loyalty to steam and threat to coal interest as the diesels took hold. War period: machinists and other craftsmen not drafted. Craftsmen and atmosphere of work at the South Louisville shops, safety emphasis. Reflections on role of Mr. Wiggins' generation, innovation and modernization, reduction on the amount of labor required for certain jobs and centralized traffic control. Discussion of microwave, computers. Modernization of train yards such as Osborn Yard. In-depth analysis of reasons for diesel superiority over steam engines: maintenance, manpower, air pollution. Freight cars, roller bearing improvement, hot box, car shaker, unit train operation. Coal transfer process and unit train, Paradise, Kentucky mine to mouth operation unloading improvements, air cylinder and door mechanism. South Louisville shops, importance in relation to other shops in the system, reflections of great railroad families: EO Rollings, Curtis Rollings, EO Rollings, Jr. Last ten years with L&N and the consolidation with the Family Lines System. Reflections on leadership.
Mr. Womack worked for many years for the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway before it was merged with the L&N Railroad. This interview covers his return to full-time work after college on G.I. Bill. From 1949-1953, he was an operator in various locations in Alabama and Tennessee and an official in 1953. Discusses the 1955 strike and the merger with L&N in 1957.
Mr. Womack worked for many years for the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway before it was merged with the L&N Railroad. He is an expert on operating rules for the Family Lines and serves as Superintendent: Rules, Safety & Rules Compliance. Tape has interference that hinders the sound quality.