Author Bud Hoekstra was born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. As a child he fell in love with trains. As an adult he got to work with them. He worked in Chicago, Superior, Wisconsin, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Bud ultimately had 42 years of service working on the railroad. He is now retired and lives in west central Wisconsin with his wife.
Bud says that this book is intended for a person who may or may not hold trains, railroads, or both, near and dear. Within the book there contains a vast array of railroad information. It isn’t intended to be a biography, yet, Bud says the book has to start somewhere and on what better place than a young boy going to work on the railroad. If you are contemplating a career on the railroad, you will find the book more than informative.
Bud’s 42 years working on the railroad encompassed much humor, both sardonic and genuinely funny. As is anywhere else, the railroads had more than their share of characters, both good and bad. Most of the guys were regular Joes trying to make a living. Many changes occurred within the industry during Bud’s tenure, AMTRAK and the Staggers Act, to name a couple. This book mentions each and all events in a concise manner.
Locomotives and train handling were two of Bud’s favorite aspects of railroading. Terminals where he worked and their physical characteristics are discussed with a certain introspect. Bud goes in depth about the train wrecks he is familiar with. And of course, you can’t have a book of this kind without a discussion of railroad management vs. labor.
Finally, Bud speaks of his own thoughts about the industry and what he feels can be done to make the railroad a going enterprise and a good place to work.
If you are interested in trains, people, and railroads in general, you’ll enjoy this book.