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May 29, 1935, Chicago

Dear Dad,

The Hiawatha was away on its first official run today. There were great goings on at Union Station and a big crowd was on hand to see the christening, admire the sparkling orange, maroon and silver Speedliner, enjoy the music and hear the speeches. Edward J. Kelly, Mayor of Chicago, said some complimentary things about the Railroad and wished the Hiawatha Godspeed. President Scandrett acknowledged the Mayor's compliments and gave a short talk. He certainly speaks with clarity and conviction. The whole celebration was broadcast over Station W L S. Undoubtedly the happiest man in the crowd was George Haynes, our Passenger Traffic Manager, who long has been a strong advocate of lower fares, faster schedules and air conditioning as the means of recovering business lost to the highways. This was his dream train come true.

P.S. The Dungeness crabs arrived and you will be very popular when we gather around the festive board tonight.

February 27, 1936, Chicago

Dear Dad,

Our Railroad has been practically snowbound now for two months.

Old timers here say it's been the toughest winter in the history of The Milwaukee Road.

Most of the trouble has been on The Milwaukee division. Here's an example: A couple of weeks ago No. 56 was stopped by a red block near Sturtevant. No.2, following a plow, had to halt while the plow unit took on water. Both No. 56 and No.2 became snowbound in the short stop made by the plow unit. The Olympian already had left Chicago and was forced to stop. The Pioneer Limited was sent out behind another rotary to take on passengers from No. 56. Passengers were transferred in a wall of snow as high as the locomotives.

Snowdrifts nine to eighteen feet high have been common. On one occasion we had seventeen freight trains stalled. The Iowa and Dakota division has not only had its hands full with snow removal but also has been doing a Herculean job of delivering coal to hard-pressed communities along the line. Near Mason City, Iowa the other day, train No. 3 encountered a stalled bus and picked up the driver and his passengers.

There have been several times when we were the only route open, a fact which didn't go unnoticed among shippers ...

March 14, 1938, Chicago

Dear Dad,

It looks like Hitler is really making his bid in Europe. A lot of us around the office here are convinced that his move into Austria is only the beginning. I wonder if we'll be able to keep out of the thick of things if real trouble begins?

Remember my talking to you about our oldest employee, "Soda Ash Johnny" Horan? He died last month, just ten days after his loath birthday when we threw a party for him at Milwaukee. .

Soda Ash Johnny began with The Milwaukee Road back in 1855 as a loader of wood. During the 83 years he worked for us, he was a machinist, an engineer and a general shop foreman at Yankton, South Dakota where he originated the use of soda ash in the treatment of water in locomotive boilers. Even Ripley had a piece about him in his "Believe It Or Not" cartoon a few years ago. We'll miss Johnny ...

June 21, 1938, Chicago

Dear Dad,

I've just returned from the scene of the wreck at Saugus, Montana, which, as you know from the papers, is the worst we ever had. The disaster was caused by a cloud burst in the Custer Creek Valley several miles north of our bridge which was undermined and swept out of line by a flash flood just as a west bound passenger train arrived. Well, the less said about this tragedy the better. There is small consolation for us of The Milwaukee Road in the fact that the coroner's jury pronounced the accident "an Act of God."

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Photographs of the early Hiawathas:
- Hiawatha No. 1
  - Hiawatha No. 3
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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