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Locations worked
 I began at Yard Center in Dolton, a south suburb of Chicago. We covered. Yard Center, 37th Street intermodal, 26th Street Yard in Chicago Heights and the CHTT Railroad in Chicago Heights as well. 
 
What was your first job on the Mopac and what were the daily duties?
I started out in 1978 as a Switchman/Brakeman. Primary duties included switching and classifying cars from inbound trains, building outbound trains and pick ups for train passing through, spotting and pulling cars from industries.
 
What was the most interesting job on the railroad you had?
Locomotive Engineer. It was the job I always wanted as a kid, it was my dream and became my dream job. 
 
What were your duties, what were the most interesting or challenging areas?
The job of locomotive engineer was both the most interesting and challenging. I worked all the assignments in the Chicago Terminal which were varied and interesting. I also worked on the road out of Villa Grove running all of the various trains we operated on the Chicago and Illinois Divisions.Running trains in adverse weather was quite the challenge. We were expected to operate the trains smoothly, safely and efficiently at track speed based on signal indication even in rain, snow and fog. 
 
What was best part of working of the Mopac?  
They trained and promoted me to Locomotive Engineer. I was paid well for my service with good benefits. They nurtured and prepared me for a long, safe career that engrained me into a culture of safety and rules compliance. I learned a discipline that motivated me to perform to the best of my abilities. 
 
What did the railroad focus on as your daily responsibilities?  
Rules compliance, working safely and efficiently. How did the MP differ from other railroads.MoPac tended to be very strict with regards to rules compliance, more than most others. There was efficiency testing conducted frequently. Rules violations and accidents as a result lead to stiff disciplinary actions. It was often joked that it wasn't if, but when and how much discipline you would receive. It was also joked that you weren't a really railroader until you received your first disciplinary action. It was often said that MoPac was the most rules complaint and strictest railroad for which to work. 
 
What changes did you see in your career that you felt were significant.  
The biggest change during my six and a half years with MoPac was the elimination of cabooses from the trains. There also significant advances in technology that lead to more efficiency which resulted in the reduction of forces. 
 
Any stories you can tell now you couldn't when you were working?  
There are many stories that I can't tell yet as I still have a few years to work before I can retire. But I do write an online column called Hot Times on the High Iron where I share stories about my career (including time at MoPac, people and events, testing and numerous other topics. 
 
How did working for the railroad affect your personal or family life.
Railroading isn't just a job, it is a lifestyle. Life on call with uncertainty about when you would be going to work or when you would be home made life interesting to say the least. Dating was nothing short of an adventure, it was difficult to explain to the girl I was going to go out with I could get called out while out on a date, I had to answer the phone when it rang or pager when it went off and had to go when they summond. Over the years I've frequently missed family functions and had to work holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I've spent many days away from home and family as I was working or in the hotel at the away from home terminal. It seems I've spent more time in a hotel than I have at home. 
 
What will be regarded as accomplishments you made in your Mopac career.
My promotion to Locomotive Engineer was the most important accomplishment in career with MoPac. The discipline they impressed upon me to strive to be the best I could be at my job was a very close second. I'm proud to say MoPac made me the railroader I am today. They laid a strong foundation for me to build upon.  
 
What was Mopac's relationship like with the unions?  Other railroads, customers?
MoPac was like most other railroads with regards to relationships with the unions. At times it was adversarial to the point of confrontational. But at other times they were able to work well together. I know at times their relationship with connection Indiana Harbor Belt was strained, almost like a feud. The crews were dedicated to satisfying customers and managers also worked to keep the customers happy. But there was a major philosophy change as upper management transitioned from railroaders to college graduates with no railroad experience becoming more concerned with the bottom line than the business line. They began to embrace that "cut yourself into profitability"  philosophy as opposed to the "grow the business" philosophy. This change became very demoralizing and disheartening to the employees. 
 
What was it like working for the Mopac during the UP merger?
Those became dark days. There developed a very pronounced anti Chicago Terminal sentiment after the merger. At first it was business as usual, but later in 1983 we began to see the change, and none of it good. The hot topic became the plan to eliminate Yard Center as a classification yard even though two of the hottest trains on the system originated there and routinely departed on schedule (routinely 95% on time) based on the arrival of trains from connecting railroads. In part this was due to the fact that Seaboard System (former L&N) had decided to pull all of their classification work out of Yard Center moving it over the the Belt Railway of Chicago's Clearing Yard. Previously they had pulled all of their intermodal business out of 37th Street Yard in Chicago. Even though we handled their business with priority and dispatched their trains on time, Seaboard was experiencing growth in intermodal. 37th Street Yard would not be able accommodate the growth as there wasn't really room for expansion. They built a new, much larger intermodal facility in Bedford Park, IL. This resulted in excess capacity at Yard Center which, for several years, was closed as a classification yard. Like Seaboard, MoPac/UP moved most of the classification of freight to Clearing Yard. It was decided to convert one, two and three yards at Yard Center into an intermodal yard. They then leased 37th/Canal Street to the Chicago & North Western and they handled UP intermodal business to and from the west coast in and out of Chicago. Instead of using MoPac crews to switch the yard, UP contracted with Chicago Rail Link to perform the work. All of these changes resulted in many employees getting furloughed, myself included. I then found employment at another railroad and it was during this period that I took the separation.  My career at MoPac ended in April 1985 but I took the training and discipline they instilled in me and moved on to new adventures in railroading.