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My Favorite Locomotive

The source of this Monon Memory is a letter by M.B. Jones published in Rail and Tie in in 1948. Mr. Jones was for many years employed as locomotive engineer on the Hoosier Line. ( At this time, we do not know Mr. Jones’ first or middle name.)

I was tickled pink to see my picture in the May issue of Rail and Tie, with my beloved old #252, and the late Joe Lyman. At that time, it was customary for the senior fireman to come off passenger and fire freight for sixty days before promotion. Business fell off a bit, and I put in seven months on #252 which benefited me a lot.

During those seven months, John Clarey returned as regular engineer, and I fired for him until I was promoted the first of October, 1905. I went on the road October 11, starting my seniority as an engineer on the later date. Whatever ability I have as an engineer I owe to John, who was the best engineer I ever knew. In forty-six years I have know some good ones; Al Whitlatch, Jim Cullen, and John Gill, then Superintendent of Motive Power, who rode me ragged, trying to make an engineer out of me. John retired a few years later somewhat discouraged.

I loved the old #252, she was a whale of an engine, but I think I loved the #503 more than any engine I was ever on in my life. I got her new from the works March 3, 1912, and was the first man to make a round trip and not get off the track with the new Mikados. The #500 and #502 came first, then the #501 and the #503. I was the last one to start out, much to the joy of some of the lower high brass, who were in disfavor with the high brass because of the derailments. The high brass were doubtful of our track and roadbed to handle such big engines. I went to South Hammond and back without getting off the tracks.

At the time the picture was taken, Mr. Wooten and my late uncle, Engineer A.M. (Mel) Jones, were members of the Monon Shops Quartet. I cannot recall the names of the other two members, but I do know it was an excellent quartet.

Editor’s notes: I assume the photo Mr. Jones refers to was taken between March and October 1905. We do not have a copy of that photo. It seems to me that every engineer of every generation credits his ability to the man who taught him. A noble tradition.

If you have any additional information about any of the people mentioned in this article, please contact:

By Ken Weller

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