I am a third generation railroader. My grandfather worked for the Boston and Albany Railroad in and around Boston MA from 1905 until his retirement in 1951 after 46 years of service. During that time he served as a Tower Operator, Telegrapher, Train Dispatcher, and Chief Train Dispatcher. His last position was Tower Operator at Tower 20 in his hometown of Framingham MA.
My father hired on with the Boston and Albany Railroad in 1941 as a lantern filler in Beacon Park Yard in Allston MA. Later he became a Crew Caller. As such, one of his duties was to locate and summon to duty crews, including those who were in the local bars around Beacon Park Yard. He then became a Yard Clerk. He was promoted to Trainmaster with the B&A RR, and served in the same position with the New York Central RR, and finally with the Penn Central RR. As Trainmaster, he served in various locations including Boston MA, Framingham MA, Worcester MA, Rochester NY, Syracuse NY, and Jersey Shore PA. In 1965, he became a Rules Examiner, and in 1968 was promoted to Chief Regional Rules Examiner in Syracuse NY. He held that position until his retirement in 1971 after 30 years of service.
My uncle was hired by the Boston and Albany Railroad in Boston MA in 1940. He worked for the B&A RR, the New York Central RR, and the Penn Central RR as Trainman, Brakeman, and Conductor. He held the position of Conductor on one of the NYC RR’s premier trains, the New England States, for many years. He died in 1971, after 31 years of service.
My first job on the railroad was in 1965 at the age of 16, as a temporary worker in NYC RR’s Maintenance of Way Department in Framingham MA. I would be called out during or after snowstorms to shovel snow from station platforms and from track switches. While attending high school and college, I worked summers as a Trackman in the MOW Dept. in Framingham MA for the NYC RR, and later for the Penn Central RR. One summer when the PC was not hiring, I worked as a Trackman for the Boston and Maine RR in Waltham MA.
Also while attending college, I worked in Worcester MA as a Clerk for the New York Central Transport Co., which after the NYC / PRR merger, became Penn Truck Lines. These were the railroad owned subsidiaries which handled the railroads’ trailer on flat car and container on flat car loading, unloading, and dispatching.
Upon leaving college in 1970, I was hired as a Patrolman with the Penn Central RR Police Department in Boston MA. At that time, the Boston office was responsible for all Penn Central PD operations in MA east of Palmer, and in the State of Rhode Island, including all freight traffic, and all the interstate and commuter passenger trains that would later be taken over by Amtrak. I worked in the Boston office as Patrolman, and Sergeant for the Penn Central PD until Conrail began operations in 1976.
I continued working for the Conrail Police Dept. in Boston as Patrolman and Investigator until my promotion to Captain of Police, and my transfer to Altoona PA in 1987.
While still working for the Conrail PD in Boston, for fun I worked part-time as Fireman, Brakeman, and Conductor from 1985 to 1987 on the Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad, a shortline passenger railroad operating trains between Hyannis MA and South Braintree MA.
With the Conrail PD in Altoona, I was responsible for supervising all Conrail PD activities on Conrail’s Allegheny Division in Pennsylvania and New York state. In 1996, I was transferred to Harrisburg PA as Captain of Police. As such, I was responsible for supervising all Conrail PD's activities on Conrail’s Harrisburg Division in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington DC.
I was still Captain of Police with the Conrail Police Department in Harrisburg PA when the Norfolk Southern Railway assumed ownership of its half of Conrail in 1999. I retired from the Norfolk Southern Police Department as Supervisory Special Agent in Harrisburg PA in 2009, after a total of 42 years of railroad service.
I am one of those EX-CONS who was working for Conrail at its start-up on April 1, 1976 and who was still with Conrail at its split-up on June 1, 1999. I saw first hand how Conrail went from a rundown, bankrupt railroad to become a well-run, meticulously maintained, profitable railroad thanks to the hard work, fortitude, dedication, and sacrifice of its thousands of employees. I am proud to say that I was one of them.
As a life-long railfan, and as an amateur photographer I took full advantage of my job on the railroad. As I worked, I always had a camera with me, and I also spent much of my "off-duty hours" on the railroad taking pictures. My working in Altoona with access to Horseshoe Curve and Juniata Works was an exceptional opportunity. I was able to capture some terrific photographs there and elsewhere. I have uploaded many of them to this site. I hope everyone who views them enjoys them.
Rich Bowes, May 10, 2023