Bios : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I was on my annual western sojurn when the question was asked about your railroad background and I missed it.Add to that,my computer crashed and I am trying to catch up. Curtis Denmark Jr.---you answer really stired my memories as well,so here goes.

Born in the mid-thirties in a "shack" about 100 yards from the ACL Perry cut-off,then known as the T&T (Tampa and Thonotosassa)at the spot I-75 crosses Harney Rd.The tracks have been gone for years.

Setting our clocks by the "620".The NB "Southland" that passed our house at 6:20PM every evening.Pulled by one of those ACL high stepping white tired fire breathing monsters that scared the heck out of a six year old.

On rare occassions going into Tampa and getting near to those "pretty" SAL E units,that I seemed to like better than the purple.I did not see the SAL that much,which made it more of a mystery to me.

One afternoon,in November 1954 sitting at our "country" store,when a friend told me the railroad was hiring.I had no car and it was at least 12 miles to work.He took me everywhere and I was able to ride to work with him until I got a car in 1955.It was the SAL and I was a carman apprentice.

Getting married in 1962 after four years in the USAF,raising three kids on land my grandparents had,that is now covered by I-75.

Being promoted in Oct.1972 to car foreman and transfered to Sanford,Fl.Working TWELVE days on and THREE days off,regardless when they fell.

In 1976 being asked to transfer to North Carolina as general foreman and turning it down.It would have meant a lot more work for $100.00 a month.

Closing of shop at Sanford in 1979 and coming back to Tampa. Downsizing of CSX in 1987 giving me cause to take early retirement in Oct. after THIRTY THREE years; in which the railroad gave me a very good living.

All this time(and even today)I have liile trains running around inside me.I have modeled HO since a friend in school in 1952 introducted me to it.Been trying to take pictures nearly that long.

Currently,I am driving a crew van out of Rockport,Fl and I love it. I am near some old friends and near to what is in my heart---railroads!

Yes,I AM older than dirt!

-- Joseph Oates (, August 25, 2001


One important thing I left out.In my desire to learn more about the SAL so I could model it,I formed the Southeastern Railroad Technical Society (SERTS)in July 1987.We started with 35 charter members and have now grown to over 1000,with many being overseas.In 1993 we became incorporated and the name changed to ACL&SAL HS.

-- Joseph Oates (, August 25, 2001.

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