Bill Stewart, Three Decades in Engine Service

By Patrick J. Durand


Pat DurandWilliam A. (Bill) Stewart retired from the Alaska Railroad as a locomotive engineer in 1973. He started in engine service with the railroad in 1939 and finally made it far enough on the roster to work year round in 1943. Bill lived for nearly 30 years after retirement. With cost of living increases, he made more money in retirement than working on the railroad. He often sat in his recliner or the fishing boat and would comment "this sure pays better than the railroad!"

Bill was my step father and he passed away in 2002. I recently was given a box containing a few photos, letters of commendation, and an official transcript of an accident investigation which resulted in his receiving 30 demerits. Bill never disposed of any documents related to his employment. His appointment to engineer status and the rules of employment and the labor agreement from 1941 and subsequent years are in the box.

Engineers and Crewmen were required to maintain trip reports. There are a few years missing but here are just a few entries among the books that cover the years from 1943 to 1973. I have added bracketed comments to explain the relevance of these trips as they may contribute to an understanding of how the railroad operated over the three decades Bill worked on the railroad.

[Webmaster note: Make sure and checked out the nine photos linked from the text below!]

Excerpts from William T. Stewart's Engineers Trip Reports

1945 [Click here for sample log]
Jan 9, 1945 Loco 301 Yard, Anchorage 3:30P to Yard 11:30P 8 hours (100) miles
(This is the Anchorage yard switcher which automatically is a 100 mile job. 301 is an 0-6-0 switcher ex N.P. L9)

Jan 13,1945 Loco 502 Frt. Anchorage R.H. 8:30A to Palmer 12:25A Hours 15:55 97 Miles
(This was a trip from Anchorage to Palmer, Jonesville and return to Palmer.)

Jan 14,1945 Loco 502 Frt. Palmer 8:30A to Anchorage R.H. 12:45P Hours 4:15 42 Miles
(This is loaded coal train on final leg from Palmer to Anchorage. 502 is a 2-8-0. Reference to R.H. is round house.)

Nov 2, 1945 Loco 752 Frt. Anchorage 4:00P To Seward 1:20A Hours 9:20 114 Miles
(This was Bill's first and only recorded trip as Engineer on Mikado 752 a 2-8-2, one of two ex Northern Pacific W-1 locomotives that were only in service for four years on the ARR.)

Nov 3,1945 Loco 752 Frt. Seward 10:00A to Seward 8:15P Hours 10:15 128 Miles
(This was a snow fleet movement North and return to Seward)

Nov 4, 1945 Loco 752 Frt Seward 1:00P Anchorage 9:00P Hours 8:00 114 Miles

Nov 13, 1945 Loco 557 Mix 9:00A to Curry 7:00P Hours 10:00 134 Miles
( Locomotive #557 was a GI war time consolidation and had no coal stoker)

Nov 14, 1945 Loco 557 Mix Curry 8:45A to Anchorage 5:50P Hours 9:05 134 Miles

Nov 15, 1945 Loco 1000 Mix Anchorage 9:00A to Curry 8:00P Hours 11:00 134 Miles
(This was Bill's first trip as engineer on #1000 the first diesel on the railroad. Typical operation of the time was a mixed train with passengers going North to Curry. Passengers would overnight at the Curry Hotel and then continue north in the morning with a crew from Fairbanks or Healy. The Anchorage crew would then return with either a freight or mixed train southbound.)

Nov 16, 1945 Loco 1000 Frt Curry 7:30A to Anchorage 3:30P Hours 8:00 134 Miles
(Bill continued on this turn with 1000 thru the end of the month with only three days off. He was in Curry for Thanksgiving dinner at the Curry Hotel.)

Dec 21, 1945 Loco 802 Frt Curry 8:15A to Healy 10:10P Hours 13:55 110 miles.
(This is first trip I find recorded for Bill on the largest of Alaska's Steam engines 802 a light Mtn. 4-8-2. Nearly 14 hours for a 110 mile trip, in the winter. Because of the holiday season he may have replaced more senior crew members that wanted to be home with the family.)

Dec 22, 1945 Loco 802 Frt Healy 9:30A to Curry 6:00P Hours 8:30 110 miles.
(The steamer could move between the heated engine houses at Healy and Curry and there were the railroad hotels at both locations for the crew.)

Dec 23, 1945 Loco 501 Frt Curry 7:00A to Anchorage 4:55P Hours 9:55 134 miles.

Dec 24, 1945 Loco 1000 Frt Anchorage 9:00A to Curry 4:20P Hours 7:20 134 miles.
(Christmas eve on the road with two kids at home, that was the railroader's life.)

Dec 25, 1945 Loco 1000 Frt Curry 6:00A to Anchorage 1:00P Hours 7:00 134 miles.
(Christmas day on the road also and then Bill took a layover day in Anchorage on the 26th. He then completed 6 trips with 1000 on the Curry freight turn before getting his next day off on Jan 2, 1946.)
(For the year of 1945 Bill Stewart was on duty 289 days, off duty 76 days, and worked a total of 3142 hours and 65 minutes. Total compensation was $5594.30 and he paid $753.17 in Tax. That comes out to $1.76 per hour before tax.)

Jan 3, 1946 Loco 701 Anchorage 9:00A to Curry 7:10P Hours 10:10 134 miles
(This is his first recorded trip as fireman on 701 Mike 2-8-2 and the engineer was Harrington. This was likely a mixed train. with crew overnighting at Curry.)

Jan 4, 1946 Loco 701 Curry 7:00A to Anchorage 5:10P Hours 9:10 134 miles

Feb 2, 1946 Loco 902 Extra Anchorage 1:00P to Seward 7:00P Hours 6 114 miles
(Engineer was Ryan and this was Bill's first trip as fireman on #902 one of two new Pacific 4-6-2 locomotives with stokers.)

Feb 3, 1946 Loco 902 Extra Seward 8:00A to Anchorage 2:00P Hours 6 114 miles.

Feb 25, 1946 Loco 620 Yard Anchorage 3:30P to Anchorage 11:30P Hours 8 100 miles
(This is the Anchorage yard switch job and #620 is one of the original class M2 Moguls 2-6-0 the ARR received from the Panama Canal Commission in 1917.)

Feb 25, 1946 Loco 301 Yard Anchorage 3:30P to Anchorage 11:30P Hours 8 100 miles
(The regular Anchorage switcher was #301 and the engineer was a Mr. Stipp. Bill held this job from Feb 13 until April 15 working with Engineers Stipp, Eatman, Prizer and Evans.)

Apr 2, 1946 Loco 620 P.X. (plow extra) Anchorage 6:45A to Curry 8:15P hours 13 186 miles
(Engineer Eatman with Bill as Fireman worked snow plow extras in and out of Curry for four days putting in over 12 hours per day.)
[Click here for log image]

Apr 15,1946 Loco 620 P.X. Anchorage 6:30A to MP50 10:30P Hours 16 250 miles
(Teaming up with engineer Evans and Engineer Eatman on board #554, Bill worked Snow Plow Extras every from April 15th until May 13th starting from Portage MP64 South and from MP51 South and then working it all again and again. Relief engineers during this period were Gaylor and Thompson. On the 17th he was held for service and on the 21st and 28th he was on layover at the section away from home.

May 20,1946 Loco 556 Frt Curry 9:15A to Summit to Curry 10:35P Hours 14:20 191 miles
(Freight X556 North with a single war time consolidation required the train to be doubled from MP 268-281 and again from MP 292 to 297)

June 4, 1946 Loco 557 2nd Anchorage 8:30A to Anchorage 6:50P Hours 10:20 138 miles
(W. A. Smith was the senior engineer on the roster and Bill fired for him on this Whittier turn. #557 was operating on a second section of this train. It may have been a troop train meeting a ship.)

June 30, 1946 Loco M-10 Extra Anchorage 10:00A to Anchorage 3:35P 118 miles.
(M-10 is a motor car and the destination and purpose of the trip was not noted)

July 4, 1946 Loco 114 1st Class Anchorage 2:30P to Curry 7:00P Hours 4:30 134 miles
(Even running as the Scheduled #2 Passenger train, this must have been a Fourth of July special treat as the next day the trip was continued on to Fairbanks with the same crew. #114 was a Brill gas electric for 28 passengers and usually pulled trailer #103.)

July 5, 1946 Loco 114 1st Class Curry 7:50A to Fairbanks 5:00P Hours 9:10 222 miles
(After a two day layover in Fairbanks Bill came south on scheduled freight #25 as fireman on loco #702)

July 18, 1946 Loco 555 Extra Nenana 7:00A to Nenana 6:50P Hours 11:50 178 miles
(Engineer Capp and Bill worked the Extra freight and switching duties from Healy to Nenana and made regular trips into Fairbanks with the coal loads from Healy. Bill had four days lay over in Nenana and Healy between and worked all other days between July 18 and Aug 15.)

Aug 14, 1946 Loco 555 Extra Nenana 7:00A to Nenana 4:30P Hours 9:30 128 miles

Feb 26,1955 Loco 1001 Psgr Anchorage 12:45P to Anchorage 8:20P 135 miles
(This is weekend Whittier turn trains #3 South and #4 North operated afternoon and leaving Whittier at the end of the work day. Engineer/Fireman Brayford, Conductor Johnson were on many of these trips.)

Mar 2, 1955 Loco 1000 Psgr Anchorage 8:45A to Anchorage 5:20P 134 miles
(This is weekday Whittier turn Train #3 South and #4 North operated mid-day. Bill made this passenger trip hundreds of times usually with 1000 and 1001 the Alaska Railroads original two Alco RS1 diesels.)

May 19,1955 Loco 1500,07,05,08 Frt Anchorage 7:30A to Seward 2:20P 129 miles
(Scheduled freight #27 South to Seward with a classic A-B-B-A EMD F7 consist. Fireman W.E. Franklin, conductor Silbernagle.)

May 19, 1955 Loco 1508,05,07,1500 Frt Seward 2:45P to Anchorage 9:45 P 129 miles
(25 minutes after arrival in Seward, the crew moved to loco 1508 connected to a string of freight cars and became Train #30 Northbound. This double movement with the same crew regularly resulted in 14 hour work days.)1957
(Things were looking up and the steamers were all gone. EMD F units and Alco Road Switchers were augmented by the RSF-1 Alco A and B units.)

Engineers Seniority List - July 1, 1956
showing Bill Stewart was 16 of 92 on the roster

Firemen's Seniority List - July 1, 1956 showing Bill Stewart was 14 of 81 on the roster

1957 [Click here for sample log]
Jan 13, 1957 Loco 1000 Psgr Anchorage 6:00P to Anchorage 12:30A Hours 6:30 125 Miles
(This was the regular evening Whittier Passenger train down and back. Pay was $32.94.)

Feb 14, 1957 Loco 1506,01,03,02 Frt Anch 8:00P to Anch 10:45A Hours 14:45 229 Miles
(Seward freight turn on Valentines day behind 4 of the original EMD F7 Locomotives. Pay for this trip was $67.38 cents or $4.57 per hour.)

Sept 27, 1957 Loco 1078,1076 Frt Anch 4:15A Anch 5:00P Hours 12:45 116 Miles
(Whittier freight turn behind two of the Alco RSF-1 1000 HP locomotives. This trip paid $42.00 strait time. By 1957 the railroad was paying overtime for everything over 40 hours per week. Bill had worked a total of 68 hours and 20 minutes over five days. His straight pay was $194.09 exceeded by overtime pay of$205.09.)

Dec 31, 1957 Loco 7123 Yard Anchorage 3:59P to Anchorage 11:59P Hours 8:00 100 Miles
(Anchorage switch job with Alco S2 paid for automatic 8 hours and 100 miles at $28.12.)

[Click here for sample log]

Aug 14, 1959 Loco 7109 BASE Yard Anchorage 7:30A to Anchorage 3:30P Hour 8:00 100 Miles
(Military facilities at Elmendorf AFB and Fort Richardson both had extensive rail yards and spurs feeding Coal Power Plants, Fuel Tank Farms, Warehouses. The Army originally operated their own locomotive crews switching these facilities. They eventually turned over four U.S. Army ALCO S2 locomotives 7107, 7109, 7112, 7123, to the Alaska Railroad as part of a deal to have the Railroad perform all these switching duties. This resulted in a second crew being called for the Base yard job for an automatic 8 hour 100 mile work day. Bill worked this job often with Conductors, Leslie, Shake, Reekie Firemen, Reekie, K.Smith, Clinton Duley, Lester L. Harrington among others.1963

Jan 20, 1963 Loco 1508,05,02,07,03,1500 EX 1508 Frt 114 to 0 to 114 Hours 13 265 miles
(The logs no longer referenced locations except by MP Anchorage is 114 and Seward 0. Even with the 6 EMD F7 units running A,B,A,B,B,A winter conditions required that they double from MP 85.5 to MP 74.5 a distance of 22 miles.)

Feb 4, 1963 Loco 1502,05,07'03,04,1500 EX1502 Frt 114 to 0 to 114 Hours 11:10 244 miles
(Bill along with Fireman, James De Cicco and Conductor, Porter, made this mid winter freight turn to Seward and back with EMD F7 units in an A,B,B,B,A,A lash up of 9,000 horse power to handle the snow and 3% grades in the old loop district.)

Jan 9, 1966 Loco 1834,1837 Anchorage 9:30A to A18 to Anchorage 9:00P Hours 11:30 168 miles
(This is the daily Palmer freight which consisted of mostly coal coming from Jonesville to the power plants at Fort Richardson, Elmendorf and CEA in Anchorage. #1834 and 1837 EMD GP7L engines. This was a great winter job on the railroad and conductor Renner and Brakeman, Joe Melven worked it with Bill until February 13th.)

Feb 14, 1966 Loco 1834,30,25 Anchorage 7:15A To A18 to Anchorage 5:30P Hours 10:15 134 miles
(Valentines day and Morganari replaced Renner as conductor until May when the crew all bid out on other jobs. The EMD GP7L units were suited to this job and 1826, 1821, 1839, 1838 are all listed in his log. Occasionally in the off season a pair of F units or the RSF-1 Alco units were assigned this run.)

July 1, 1966 Loco 1510,1503 Anchorage 8:30A to Fairbanks 8:40P Hours 12:10 356 miles
(With the new bid period, seniority allowed Bill to move to the Trains #6 and #5 the regular Anchorage to Fairbanks Passenger service along with the crew of McDannel and Allen. These are the premier trains on the line with two near identical consists running in opposite directions every other day.)

Aug 19,1966 Loco 1514,1503 Anchorage 8:30A to Fairbanks 8:40P Hours 12:10 357 miles
(Regular summer passenger train #6 FP7A #1514 and F7B #1503 baggage and three coaches
Conductor McDannel, Baggage man Allen.)

Sept 4, 1966 Loco 2501,2502,1500,1506,1504,1502 Frt Anchorage 5:15P to Anchorage 3:40A Hours 10:25 242 Miles.
(This was Extra 2501 with a 6 unit power block handling the Seward freight turn from MP114 to MP 0 and return to MP114. Conductor McDannel Baggage man (sic) Allen.) On Aug 28, 1966 this same run was operated behind the following locomotives, 2502, 2503, 2501,2000, 1837, 1506 a real mix of power with 3 GP35 units, a new GP30, a GP7L and finally an F7A.

Oct 31, 1967 Loco 2000, 1825 Frt Anchorage 2:15A to Seward to Anchorage 4:20P Hours 14:05 301 miles.
This is a scary run on Halloween with Stew White as Fireman and Sherewood conducting the Seward freight turn. Down and back MP 114 to MP 0 to MP114 with an almost new GP30 and an old GP7L)

Nov 16,1971 Loco 1510,09 Psgr Anchorage 8:30A to Fairbanks 8:55P 356 miles
(Winter passenger train #6 North to Fairbanks Engr. House Conductor Reekie. Traffic was very sparse in the winter and you had to be up on the seniority roster to pull assignment on a passenger train. Bill was on this run as a Fireman.

Nov 17,1971 Loco 1510,09 Psgr Fairbanks 8:30A to Anchorage 8:40P 356 miles
(Winter passenger train #5 South with the same consist and crew after overnighting in Fairbanks. The crews usually stayed at the Nordale Hotel in Fairbanks.)

Feb 1,1973 Loco 1834 Yard Anchorage 4:00P to Anchorage 12:00A Hours 8:00 100 Miles
(Anchorage switch Job with GP7L locomotive. Min 100 mile rule still applied. Fireman, Nunn and Conductor G. Davidson.)

Mar 28, 1973 Loco 1514, 1517 Frt Anchorage 8:30A to Healy 5:40P Hours 9:10 249 Miles
(Anchorage freight Train #6 North to Healy where crews change and overnight. Fireman Kopcha and Conductor Mc Dannel. This was the best paying Freight trip on the railroad and Bill's seniority allowed him to pull this turn on a regular basis.)

March 29, 1973 Loco 1514,1517,1510 Frt Healy 12:10P to Anch. 8:50P Hours 8:40 251 Miles
(Return to Anchorage with South bound Freight from Fairbanks. Bill's crew picked up the train at Healy. This was Bill Stewart's Last trip. Fireman Kopcha and Conductor McDannel signed his time card and added "Happy Retirement Bill")

Engineers Time Return logs of William T. Stewart recorded the names of crew members on each of his trips. They are listed below in alpha order. Since some logs are missing, there are many more names that could be added. This brotherhood of railroad employees includes lifelong friends that went well beyond the tracks.

Firemen and Engineers
James DeCicco
Clinton L. Duley
Wallace Eatman
Lester L. Harrington
Francis J. Healy
D.L. Hopkins
George G. Irwin
Norvil Kane
Lee K. Lewis
Joseph E. Melven
Ray Nelson
J.N. Smith
K.E. Smith
M. K.Thompson
Stewart E. White
W. C. Whitus
G.H. Wilson
J. Wood
Herb Worthley
D.H. Anderson
S.M. Calton
J. Douglas
Charlie Ingersol
R. James
Mc Culuch
Thomas E. Melven
S, M. Patton
J. Reekie
R. Shake
W. Shake


[Side note from Pat Durand: This may seem like too much about nothing for some folks, but there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from these trip notes - personalities, equipment in use, how it was used, trip duration, power consists change over the 30 years.]


© 2004 Pat Durand