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Wade Clutton’s write up made on January 11,2011.  Wade passed away March 8, 2015.

I went from Chief Clerk (local traffic office) at Joplin, Missouri (September 1962 through December 1962).  Then I went into Traffic Analysis working for Ronnie Crossman.  When he became head of the Rate Department (about 1964), he brought me up to the 18th floor to head a little “study/analysis” group and teach guys in the rate department on costing moves.  The weirdest thing I ever did was to have to fly to Washington DC on my way home from work....I had to take a document to the ICC for filing.  I was able to get a flight into Baltimore where Bill Higginbotham met me.  We went to the ICC to deliver it and then he drove me to what is now Reagan Airport (it was National then) and I caught a plane home.  No fax in those days.

In January 1966 I, along with about 5 ot 6 others, was assigned to the “Management Information Study” Group.  We finished our study and presentation in 1968.  We got the go ahead and so the decision was made to start down the implementation road.    Marvin Ummel and I started down the road of putting together the first field CSC....our first efforts was at North Little Rock.  Our “tracing system” was the state-of-art EAGLE using some of the finest technology in existance: a Western Union teletype at 66 words per minute vs 60 for a standard railroad teletype.  Most of the clerical functions were pretty much the same but soon we expanded to around N Little Rock.

The car reporting system of Yard Mech only reported departures and interchanges.  Marv and I, through Art Mennell who was installing the yard inventory system and J. B. McCormack (Superintendent), we boot-legged an inbound reporting system and an industry department/placement system.  This went along for a year or more before the St. Louis Traffic Department discovered it.  Fritz Dowling went crazy because “we were going to fill up the computer and have car records all over the floor of the computer room”.  We did not back down nor did the car records over flow to the floor. 

Guerdon Sines came along in 1969 and soon realized he badly needed Fritz Dowling’s political support.  I became the pawn to deliver Guerdon’s side.  Guerdon told me “to take care of the traffic department’s needs”.  He gave me a nice, but completely inexperienced staff.  My traffic interface was Neal Spaeth so all of this worked fine and Dowling was happy.

The MIS report invisioned a strong car distribution world and a significant St. Louis presence in Locomotive management.  Jim Gessner was given the job of creating “The Transportation Control Center” which we came to know as the 16th floor.  Dowling was a political buddy of Jim Gessner’s from the day Jim arrived on the property.

The “job slot” which was created was to improve “customer service”...through Dowling’s help, I got the job.  Gessner wanted the Service Bureau modernized, he wanted to know where our service weaknesses were and he wanted to know what the terminal detention numbers were.  So in January 1972 I became Director of Service Control.

Jenks told us in 1966 “to give him a plan to organize and operate the railroad with all the computer and communications power required, but don’t bankrupt me”.  He indicated out first job was to design the system to be followed up by implementing the system and finally to cause the railroad to learn how to use the system.  Incredible guideance and equally incredible vision of what the path forward should be.

During the late 1960s the railroad was only marginally in the black.  By the time the MoPac was sold our profit was very substantial, we had money in the bank, we had a vastly improved physical railroad and a state-of-the-art computer system.  The magic of what TCS was and could pruduce was evident very early on.

 My supervision from the 15th and 16th floors during my Director of Service Control tenure was very loose and very supportive.  One of the basic concepts of the MIS proposal was a creature we came to know as “auto bill” - essentially the creation of “perfect waybills” for the basic repetitive movements.  I started working with Bob Kilgore when I came to Traffic Analysis in 1963 and we always had a close personal relationship.  Somehow Kilgore got involved with the auto bills.  I gave the printed bills to Dick Mathews (who was operating GM telegraph for me) and told him to review the bills in his spare time to see what we could do to long haul the MoPac.  We changed a huge amount of billing to Chicago vs St. Louis.  Soon the C&EI was loaded with traffic and the cash was rolling in.

With the auto bill capability, the Service Bureau, including the diversion desk could change waybills.  The revolution began to take place.  Somewhere along that time period I discovered we had been getting diversion wires on private empties and generally we just put them in a desk drawer.  I went crazy and we immediately began functioning in a similar way to Car Control.  Complaints went away and everything was going great.

That’s when Neal (?) was a traffic clerk at Continental Grain trying to move grain from C&EI elevator to their elevator at Avondale, LA.  By this time Kilgore and I had teamed up to bootleg in the ability for a clerk in St. Louis to see a track in Villa Grove (or anywhere else).  Thats when we started “electronic switching of empties at Villa Grove”.  We had it so the local would take the empties to the elevator.  Either the local would bring the loads back to Villa Grove or the CH (Chicago-Houston train) would pick up at the elevator.

The CH was essentially an empty chemical train going to Houston...it had more power than nexessary so the northbound would have enough.  Bright idea clicks on:  We have the power to move the loads south without additional train miles.  As chance would have it the CH ran a little ahead of the DN (Dupo-New Orleans).  The DN was essentially a southbound empty train.  The CH would set the hoppers out for the DN.  We moved the loads without train miles.  Northbound, a few empties on the rear of a chemical train could always be accomplished.  The money was rolling in, the costs were minimal.

One day I was telling John Toler about what we had not been doing (Continental as well as folks like Dow), what we were doing and how our customers were really happy.  He said something about “why don’t you set up a car control world for private cars?”.....when given a chance, Toler was always a man of big visions.  Within a week John Neikirk and John Constanti had a new world.  To say the least, this was an exciting world.

Joe Pijut took care of autos and when he needed serious help he, came to me

The Service Bureau clerks were 99% blindly supportive.  The came to understand that if they undertook the jobs I wanted done that they would have jobs.  Job cuts were rampant all over the railroad’s clerical staff.

One day I was talking with Bob Kilgore complaining about the high wide function and having to retype messages and all the clerical crap...by the end of the conversation, we had invented “Repetitive Messages”.  Today, of course, we call it email but it was a new invention in the late 1970’s.  I never told anyone what I was doing or how we were doing to do it and certainly I did not have the “authority” or direction.  We know the results.  Repetitive messages revolutionized the railroad’s communication and management.  It damn near implemented itself.

When we began to implement car scheduling, we had to come up with names/codes for yard blocks.  First plan was to implement what was in place.  There was no uniformity.  As far as I was concerned it was total chaos.  Without discussion or authority, I changed the system.  A North Little Rock block would be the Yard Mech symbol of NLRK regardless of where it was being built.  Suddenly anyone could look at any consist or any inventory and understand where the cars were going.  Voila another big step in easing the officer’s transition from point A to point B.  We were able to look at train consist in a way never dreamed of, well until I got another idea:  I wanted to see how well a yard had done its switching and blocking so we got the ability to look at the prior block.

Once people understaood how easy it was to see poor switching via train consists or YATS inquiries, we saw incredible levels of improvement without major discussion.

All of these things, and many others, had major impact on the quality of railroad service.  We never dreamed of them in MIS and we never dreamed of them later....instead we exploited every opportunity.  As the old quote goes: It was the worse of times (major derailments, severe power shortages, unprecedented winter weather for 2 years) and it was the best of times (TCS, run through trains, electronic switching, private car control, reduced terminal detention, managerial pride/excitement).  Yes, my friend, it was the tale of two railroads.