Dan Conley’s Story

An actual Norfolk Southern engineer’s story on how he became an employee….

This indeed is a keeper…(From Dan Conley’s own words)

Well, you wanted a story, here you go. This could be lengthy. I grew up at the end of Russ St., in Sciotoville, OH. The old B&O ran behind my house. Maybe 30 or 40 yards away. They shuttled iron ore and boxcars to the steel mill and coke plant in New Boston, OH., and they also took scrap cars to Friedmans Scrap Yard near what we call “Star Yard” on the railroad now. Growing up I saw so many old steam engines, passenger cars, freight cars and cabooses that went by my house going to the torch.

How I wish I had taken pictures. Mainline trains also came down from the C&O main and would set off and pick up. Living so close to the tracks. That’s how the fascination with trains started.

It started at a young age, a very young age. The crews would come by and sometimes they would stop and blow the whistle. I would come out and they would holler and tell me to get on. The earliest I remember I was about 4 or 5? It’s an early summer morning. I remember this because he had to be at work at 8 AM. My dad is with me and we’re on the train. The crew tells him to pack a lunch for us and go with them to Chillicothe to switch and then come back to Sciotoville. He couldn’t go because he had to work that morning. Needless to say I threw a crying fit. He had to drag me off the engine that day.

As I got older I got to ride a lot of trains behind my house. Then when I started junior high school I would walk the tracks to and from school everyday.

Sometimes when school let out, I would meet up with the conductor and walk to the crossing with him. I would then ride the train to my house. Run up the path and tell my mom I was going to go with the train crew. We’d be gone for an hour or two and then they would bring me back. Good times that I will never forget!

I ended up taking classes in high school and college that the “Microfiche” showed would be good for getting a job on the railroad. No, we didn’t have computers in school then.

Jump to when I’m in college. I come home one day, I’ll never forget it. My dad tells me there’s an ad in the paper. The railroad is hiring. Needless to say I go.

Get through all the interviews. I’m just going to school and working part time and waiting for the call. Go down to the depot once a week and check to see if they’ve hired yet. One day I go in and speak to a man named Doug Anderson. Little did I know he would be my Road Foreman of Engines one day. I ask him if they have hired anyone yet.

He goes and checks and comes back and ask me to sit down for a second. He wonders why I’m not going to school and getting an education. I tell him I am at Shawnee State University. He looks at me and says, “My son goes there.” He tells me his son’s name and I could have stood up and said, “Please kick me!” I said, “I hang around with your son.” He tells me he’s going home and ask him and I better be telling the truth. Anyway, two days later on the answering machine a message. “Dan Conley……Doug Anderson. You want a job at the railroad, call me.” Never will I ever forget those words.

So now you know. I’ve been working for Norfolk Southern now for 25 years. Do I still have the fascination for trains? Not nearly as much as I did when I was a kid but I still have some. I enjoy looking out and seeing a kid waving at me. Reminds me of myself when I was that age. Seeing railfans taking pictures.

I’ve always been talkative and nice when I do get to talk with a railfan. Sometimes if I have something extra, a trinket or orders, I give them away. I understand. I was once that way and still am to a degree. So, I’ll probably here about this at work and I’m sure I’ll get a “buff” comment. But I don’t care. It is what it is and I enjoy it most of the time. So be careful out there and maybe someday I will see you on the rails.

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