Railroad Stories: Employee Received Passes to Ride Great Northern Trains

I worked in the Freight Receipts Office of the Great Northern Railway in St. Paul, Minn., in the 1940s. It was a fortunate thing for me, because I got passes to ride Great Northern trains. On a trip to Glacier National Park on the Empire Builder, I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. I also took several weekend trips to Winnipeg, Canada. Another time, a co-worker and I went to Seattle for a week. We had to pay for our berths on the Pullman car of the Oriental Limited, otherwise the trip was free, except for food in the dining car. When we wanted to go to Chicago for a long weekend, we got half-fare passes on the Zephyr or The 400.

On the job, I operated a comptometer – a calculating machine, which is now obsolete. The amount of iron ore or coal had to be multiplied by the cost per ton to ship it.

After I married and became a stay-at-home mom, the Great Northern merged with another railroad and became the Burlington Northern Railroad. By then, my husband and I had bought a car and didn’t travel by train anymore. I must say, I loved working for the rail-road, and the free trips were nice bonuses. Now, 50 years later, I still think about my trips by train.

In 1999, my oldest granddaughter and I took a train ride. She had never ridden on a train before, and she thoroughly loved it. For me, riding the restored Empire Builder really brought back memories. 

Lucille A. Anton
Circle Pines, Minn.

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.