Land of Opportunity: Greasing Railroad Tracks Slowed Down the Train

Woman greases railroad tracks after trains kept killing ducks and geese; railroad finally paid her for her livestock.

| Good Old Days

In the mid-1800s, my great-grandmother, Helena Halmos, came to America’s land of opportunity from Prussia. She married Christoff Meyer, from Trier, Germany, and they settled near Weeping Water, Nebraska. The railroad ran through the field just behind their stone house. (The old stone house is still standing, and the railroad tracks still run back of the house.) There was an incline behind the house. The train repeatedly ran over her ducks and geese. My great-grandmother greased the tracks with hog lard to make the train slow down and give her geese a chance to get off the tracks. After a couple times when they could not make it up the little hill until they got out and wiped the tracks clean, they knocked on her back door and asked how much they owed her for her geese and ducks. They paid her, and she quit greasing the tracks.

Melba Meyer Wiggins
Paden, Oklahoma

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. 

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