June 30, 1925, Chicago

Dear Dad,

I guess by now you know all about the earthquake we had in Montana. It really caused a furor here at the General Offices.

In case your Seattle newspapers missed any of the details, here's what happened: Train Number 15 was just out of Barron, Montana shortly after 3 P.M., June 27th, when the earthquake struck. The train crew thought it was a "sun kink" under the train and ran ten car lengths before halting. They looked back, and couldn't see anything but dust, black clouds and rocks, apparently falling from the sky on the Railroad tracks and then bounding into the Missouri River.

An inspection showed a pedestal and a journal box entirely gone from a sleeping car. Other cars were damaged by huge dents. The accident occurred on the electrified part of the western line and the power was cut off by the quake, leaving the train stranded.

At first no one knew what had happened. Then two members of the crew walked toward the head end of the train just as the second earth tremor took place. Both were knocked to the ground and there was a tremendous roar as rocks fell down the side of the mountain. Passengers were badly scared who wouldn't have been for that matter but it was necessary to keep them in the cars because rattlesnakes were known to be in the region.

That was only the beginning. The tremors continued at intervals until the morning of June 29th, totaling 31 in all. Eventually additional supplies were obtained at Three Forks and after repairs to the track, No. 15 finally got under way again, reaching Seattle only this morning. Reports from the Seattle office indicate that most of the passengers thought the crew handled the situation admirably.

April 30, 1927, Chicago

Dear Dad,

Perhaps you have noticed that the Railroad's current newspaper and magazine advertising features "The Milwaukee Road." I understand this new name is to be used on locomotives, rolling stock and stations in the future instead of the longer Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway. While you people on the "west end" may have been calling it "The Milwaukee" I say it will be a long, long time before people in these parts give up the habit of calling it "The St. Paul"

May 23, 1927, Chicago

Dear Dad,

... It's hard to get much work done around here because all anyone talks about is Charles Lindbergh's flight from New York to Paris. I see that even President Coolidge sent him a message of congratulations.

But aviation isn't the only industry that's making progress. Our Pioneer Limited, between Chicago and the Twin Cities, has just been equipped with roller-bearing cars, the first long distance train in the country to use them. One of the engineers who worked on the project said roller bearings practically eliminate the hotbox problem. And they really make for a smooth ride too no more jerking when you pull out of the station. It won't be long, I believe, before all our passenger trains will consist of roller-bearing cars ...

January 14, 1928, Chicago

Dear Dad,

We have finally wound up with a name that is quite a mouthful.

Following the recent reorganization the official name of the Railroad became The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company, descriptive but certainly one of the longer, if not the longest in the book. For advertising purposes I understand we will remain "The Milwaukee Road."

Things are certainly booming and if car loadings keep up we may touch a new high in revenue. Passenger traffic, however, is falling off due to the fact that everybody and his brother is buying an automobile most of them on the installment plan. Nowadays people buy anything and everything with a down payment and a promise.

August 8, I928, Chicago

Dear Dad,

... Our Freight Traffic Department set some kind of a record over the weekend by moving a complete industry from Minneapolis into the firm's new plant on Oak Park Avenue in Chicago without the loss of a single working day. The company's equipment and records all were loaded into a single train. They say some of the stenos still were typing when they loaded the desks ...

October 30, 1929, Chicago

Dear Dad,

Thanks for the fresh salmon. They really had that Puget Sound flavor. And that reminds me. After what's happened to the stock market you may have to keep me in food. As a matter of fact I only had about $1,000 tied up in stocks. About all they'll be good for now will be to plug the holes in my shoes if things get as bad as a lot of people think they will.

I haven't written much about the Railroad lately but just the same we've accomplished quite a lot this year in the way of improvements. Much of the work has had to do with the elevation of tracks, particularly here and in Milwaukee. We also bought 1,700 more automobile cars and built a new station at Prairie du Chien, one of the oldest points on the entire Milwaukee system ...

July 14, 1930, Chicago

Dear Dad,

I've got an aching back today. A friend of mine last night introduced me to "Tom Thumb Golf," played with only a putter on miniature courses. Try it some time if it gets to Seattle.

... saw a wonderful movie the other night "All Quiet on The Western Front," a story about the World War. And for radio entertainment, I think the Amos and Andy show is undoubtedly the funniest program on the air ...

September 2, 1931, Chicago

Dear Dad,

... As if the depression wasn't enough, The Milwaukee Road has new troubles. The drought of the past couple of months in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana took a big bite out of our anticipated revenue. Things look so dismal around here, it's said that even some of our officers are humming that new tune, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

July 2, 1932, Chicago

Dear Dad,

We've had quite an exciting time around Chicago the past few days. The city has been so crowded that a person could hardly turn around without trampling a Democrat underfoot.

A newspaper friend of mine got me into the Stadium yesterday so I was on hand when Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for the Presidency. The man certainly has a winning way about him when he speaks before an audience.

I don't think I mentioned it in my last letter but you, as an old-time Railroad fan, would be interested to know that we've finally abandoned the only narrow-gauge line we ever operated, a 35-mile stretch from Bellevue, Iowa to Cascade, Iowa. It had only a 3-foot gauge and some really rugged grades.














































"The St. Paul"


 ...or ?


"The Milwaukee"


document home

web version


full text

document list

Click here for a guide to this website

Contact Webmaster

Last Updated: March 03, 2009