Louisville and Nashville Railroad

= Audio Available Online
Ray Abner is a retired general chairman of the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers (IBF&O). His experience with the L&N Railroad began during his childhood in Eastern Kentucky. Main Topics: Childhood and early years in railroad boarding camp. Experience as a telegrapher; transfer to position at the South Louisville Shops after being furloughed in 1936-37; early union organizing at the South Louisville Shops; definition of the terms "fireman" and "oilers" and the relation of semiskilled and unskilled workers to the IBF&O; work responsibilities of the laborers; role of the IBF&O during the 1955 strike against the L&N Railroad; responsibilities of the general chairman of the IBF&O; changes brought about by equal opportunity employment legislation; reflections on union activities including accomplishments, labor and management relations, and cooperation from the national office for local problems; historical importance of the railroads to Eastern Kentucky.
Ashby, who was the superintendent of the Atlanta Division on the L&N Railroad, is interviewed about the following topics: his family's background in railroading, railroad passenger service, railroad terms and positions, the structure of a railroad, railroad costs and a short history of the L&N Railroad.
Jim Bailey served as a general vice president of the Brotherhood Railway Carmen of the United States and Canada. Main Topics: Family history in railroad occupations; brief review of Bailey's career advancements with the Carmen's union; background on the Carmen's union and its role in the 1955 crafts strike against the L&N railroad; description of the L&N shop facilities in Montgomery, Alabama; Bailey's move to Louisville as General Chairman of the Joint Protective Board of the Carmen's union and the responsibilities of this position; some comments on the importance of the Railway Labor Act; Bailey's experiences on the national level as Grand Lodge Deputy and as a member of the General Executive Board; some of the specific responsibilities of the General Vice Presidents of the BRC of US&C; specific duties and responsibilities of Mr. Bailey's present position; listing of railroad occupations included in the BRC of US&C agreements and covered by their constitution adopted at Joint Convention, Topeka, Kansas, September, 1890.
Main Topics: Education and early life, experience in the road master's office, general baggage and general passenger department around 1922; description of Union Station in the 1920s, description of passengers and troop trains 1920 through World War II; comments on the military bureau, food supplies and army cooks; offices of the L&N and other railroad passenger agents in the Marion E. Taylor and Starks Building on Fourth Street in Louisville; special tours included trips to: Mammoth Cave, Natural Bridge, to ball games in Cincinnati, Ohio, and St. Louis, Missouri; types of accommodations available on the passenger trains; more comments on experience as chief clerk in the Starks Building Arcade office until move toward consolidation about 1959; changes in Union Station over the years; Louisville, Henderson, and St. Louis Railway merger in 1929; experiences that meant a great deal to Birchler and some of the personalities that he remembers. Included in these were an excursion trip to Niagara Falls, New York; tours for school children; special trains for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Thomas E. Dewey. Private cars-comments and descriptions; local lines and local transportation; comments on the land grant railroads. Special aspects of the L&N Railroads. Local feeling of loyalty to the L&N. Development of the local community because of the L&N Interurban lines. Traveling passenger agents.
Early employment experience, men secretaries at the L&N. Industrial agents served under: Mr. Hatti, Mr. Chase. Agricultural colonization sponsored by L&N in southern states. L&N projects with governmental or military agencies: Naval Ordinance, Lexington-Avon Signal Depot, Higgins Ship Yard-Louisiana, Curtis Wright; and Space Center. Land acquisition, survey and development data, ownership, acquisition of needed land by government. L&N military export activities. Oak Ridge facility created without L&N knowledge of reason. Military experience. Post-war period: railroads used by private industry to negotiate and survey area prior to announcement of industry coming into region. Competition from trucking industry; dieselization as a competitive necessity. Industrial Development dept created 1959. Additional land acquired, converted to industrial use. Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Evansville acquisition; Western & Atlantic R.R. Bisha's role in Seaboard Coast Line. Purchase of the Monon. On Board of Chicago & Western Indiana & Belt RR of Chicago representing L&N. N.C.&St.L. merger and Ford plant in Nashville. Seaboard Coast Line consolidation. Changes in technology; computerization. Increased size of cars. Lines into eastern Kentucky Coal fields. Piggy back, circus loading, high capacity lifts, fork lift operations. Problems with existing structures built for smaller cars. Examples of recycling land owned by L&N. Changes for Bisha with consolidation of L&N with SCL. Acquisition - part of Tennessee Central, RFC involvement. Receivership under Battle Rhodes. Attempt to negotiate for RR line to become part of the L&N, prevented by brotherhoods, settled by federal judge. Property disposed of to settle government RFC loans. L&N creation of new revenue sources: tree farming, tung nut, government and L&N agricultural agents. L&N first RR to create land banks. L&N's role in Louisville-area development. Acquisition of Monon RR brought K&I tracks leading to development of Rubbertown area, current work in Riverport area, southern Jefferson County, importance of floodwall, development of Freeport area by US Commerce Dept. Possible changes in transportation regulations. Revitalization of L&N-owned facilities.
A 1917 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences of the University of Louisville, Bowman discusses his academic and athletic career at U of L from 1914 until graduation. Prominently mentioned are faculty and curriculum; social life at the University; and Bowman's career as a college football player, manager of the basketball team, and member of the track team. He also discusses his participation in Boyd Martin's University Players and his career with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad from 1921 until 1961.
Mr. Bowman is a retired L&N employee.
Mildred Bradley is a retired worker at the South Louisville Shops. She was among a large group of women hired by the L&N Railroad during World War II. Main topics: Early life and jobs before employment with L&N; early working years at the L&N (good description of cleaning diesels and working with brick masons); postwar years; unionization and the importance for women; 1955 strike observations and experiences; limitations on women workers who continued to work at the South Louisville shops; background on International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers; special tools and aspects of Mildred Bradley's work; work experiences of father, Jess Davis; reflections on race relations in Kentucky and on the L&N Railroad. Wrap-up: comments on work including examples of how she dug the pits under the diesels and other heavy machines, and more explanation concerning union activities and records; reflections on what might have been if times had been different and compliments paid to Ms. Bradley.
Mr. Burkhart is a retired L&N employee and past General Chairman of the Railroad Yardmasters of America. Main topics: father's railroad background and L&N ties with the Shelby Park community near the Oak Street Yard; military railroad experience during World War II; postwar changes in railroading at the L&N; military railroad experience during the Korean conflict; union activities and reflections on Burkhart's years as General Chairman; physical differences in the three Louisville L&N Railroad yards: east Louisville, Water Street, and the South Louisville yard. Additional comments on union activities, the L&N Railroad battalion and its training activities.
Number 1 engineer in seniority for the L&N Railroad, Mr. Campbell relates his many years of experience with the steam locomotives.