Stan's been workin' on the railroad

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>Stan's favorite piece of railroad memorabilia is a picture given to him by a friend. The picture was taken in 1941, at the Oregon Truck Junction and shows Celio Indians (sub. of the Yakima Tribe) giving a salmon to the Union Pacific's fireman.

The Northern Pacific Railroad was granted a charter by Congress in 1864, which provided the private company with huge subsidies. Construction did not begin until 1870. The line followed the long proposed northern route, eventually connecting Lake Superior to Puget Sound. The final link over Stampede Pass in the Washington Cascades was completed in 1887.

Not long after the cowboys stopped robbing the trains, a boy, Stan J. Nesbitt was born in Ontario, Ore. in 1943, just in time to move to a construction camp in Anderson Dam, Idaho where his dad had a job with the Bureau of Reclamation. Here Stan learned the realities of life attending class in a two-room schoolhouse with an outhouse. He moved to Euphrata in 1949, to Tri-Cities in 1959 and to Kennewick in 1960.

Charlie Brown, a friend of Stan's dad, got him his first job as a storekeeper with Northern Pacific which entailed fetching freight car material and various odd jobs. In 1965 he became a fireman (assistant engineer), which brought him into the realm of steam engines and diesels aboard locomotives. The small engines generated 1,200 horsepower and the larger ones 4,000 to the driver.

The freight and passenger trains ran at 50 mph, the piggybacks at 60 and Amtrack breezes at 79 mph.

In 1970, Northern Pacific tied up with Burlington Northern which ran the tracks on the Great Northern Route and Denver to Forth Worth, new horizons opened for Stan. In 1973, he was promoted to engineer and worked as such until 1987.

Stan related a most tragic incident, when a man stepped in front of his train in an act of suicide. The man was successful and it was a harrowing experience, but the man's mother sent Stan a letter saying that her son had a long history of suicidal tendencies and he should carry no guilt.

When asked about the frequency of derailments Stan said, "Derailments were not an everyday occurrence but they did happen; in 1978, 27 cars out of the middle of a freight train derailed spilling a whole lot of wood chips around South Junction, Ore."

"Another time in the Pasco yard, a grain train missed the switch point and buried six railcars into the earth."

As one listens to Stan reminisce story after story, some not printable in a family newspaper, one can feel the deep comraderie that existed within the railroad family. Stan's pen name while working on the railroad was, "Oscar LaBo," a name which still brings a sparkle to his eyes.

Stan related a near tragic train wreck that happened in the spring of 1978. On a dark night while engineering on a train out Pasco, he stopped the train to allow an eastbound train to detour at a switch station, which would let the oncoming train get off the mutual track that they shared. Around the corner in the distance came the swirling lights of the oncoming locomotive at 40 miles an hour, with no indication that it was going to slow down. Stan got on his radio and frantically called to the oncoming train, which was bearing down on them, but to no avail. The other train kept coming. Stan's fireman in the locomotive got up and started to run to the back of the train to avoid the inevitable crash, but Stan just said to him, "Where are you going you can't run away from this thing." With that the shaken fireman sat down to await his doom. Finally the oncoming train slowly ground to a crawl and made the switching station and rolled off the track. Later that night they found out that both the engineer and the fireman on the other train had been asleep.

In late 1987, Stan went to work for Amtrack running the King Street Switch engine. In the Spring of 1994 he bid a job on Amtrack running the "Coast Starlight" from Portland, Seattle and Klamath Falls and in 1997 retired with 34 years of service to the railroad.

In 1997, he and his wife of 11 years, Darlys, who is an interesting person in her own right, moved to Surfside Estates where they have resided for the past 16 years.

Stan served for 7 years on the Surfside architectural committee and VP on the Board for 6 years and served as a trustee at the Eagles Lodge in Ocean Park.

Nowadays he and his wife Darlys do a wealth of volunteer work at both the Moose and Eagles Lodges and they were both voted Volunteers of the Year in 2004 at the Moose Lodge.

Stan a mountain of a man with a deep baritone voice can be heard most anywhere on the Peninsula where Karaoke is being played. He loves to sing and is a true pleasure to listen to.

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