Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by c604.
After a few weeks of this forum being nothing but “the MP36’s suck.....no wait on second though they’re great!” and reports of what equipment is running on what line, I'd like to include a different type of topic to keep the forum diversified a bit. As most of you know, Metra has several of their locomotives named after people. Have any of you ever wondered who those people were (and are) and what they contributed to the Chicago commuter rail system (even before Metra)? I wondered that myself quite a few times. So I did a bit of Googling during the last few weeks and came up with some really neat information about these people. I couldn’t find information about all of them no matter how hard I searched so that’s why I hope some of you lurkers that read this know some facts and can enlighten us a bit. As a side note: I was very pleased to find out that the people that I did find a connection with RTA/Metra really were involved with making Metra better and not just some politician who was due for a political favor in an election year.

F40PH 100: Ernest Marsh
I could not find any information of him relating to Metra at all. The only info that I found was of a Disneyland engine of the same name. It is mentioned that Ernest Marsh was a Santa Fe railroad executive. Is that the same person that the 100 is named for? What did he do for the RTA/NIRC?

F40PH 105: James Kemp
This is another one that I could find no relation to Metra. There is a James Kemp at New Jersey Transit now that was/is a very big innovator for transit systems. I’m guessing this could be the same person. What did he do for Metra?

F40PH 122: Some of you will say “hey that’s named ‘Village of Deerfield!’” And you’re right it is. But for a time it was named after Metra’s long time head of Public Relations Christopher Knapton. He sounded like a real class act, a real railroader. Here is a small article I found about his career in railroading:

"Knapton was known to a generation of railroaders and railfans as a straight shooter who could spread laughter even during tough times. In a thumbnail obituary he authored for himself near the end, he made a point of calling himself "a New Englender by birth, a Midwesterner by choice." Chicago was the center of Knapton's Midwestern experience, first as vice president of the Rock Island, then as Midwestern head of corporate communications for Amtrak, and finally as head of communications for the Chicago commuter railroad Metra.

During 1972-74, he was head of communications for the Federal Railroad
Administration under John Ingram. When Ingram left to head the foundering Rock Island, he made Knapton vice president of communications. Knapton engineered the Rock's new image --blue with a stylized "R". While sharing drinks with friends, Knapton debated a new slogan. His favorite, never used, was, "if it wasn't fun, we wouldn't do it."

In the end, nothing could save the Rock. But Knapton went on to Amtrak, then back to Washington and the Association of American Railroads. In 1984, he returned to Chicago as Metra's director of media relations, becoming a sort of radio personality, explaining to Chicagoans why their trains occasionally were late. Under Knapton, its newsletter "On the (Bi)Level" became must reading. When readers complained about typographical errors, Knapton slapped on this motto: "The only publication anywhere with intentional puncuation, spelling,
and grammatical goofs so bored communters can correct it while riding."

Knapton retired in 1996 and became ill in December 1997. Friends suggested that Metra temporarily name a locomotive for him [page 30, May 1998 Trains]. Under the pretext of taking Knapton by ambulance for treatment, he was driven from LaGrange Memorial Hospital to a siding near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe triple-track main line to see F40PH 122, the new "Christopher Knapton."
--Don Phillips
Trains Magazine - November 1998."

F40PH-2 130: Richard D. Newland

All I could find on him is the following quote:

“In RTA’s beginning, two of the original suburban RTA board members --Richard Newland of Waukegan and Daniel Baldino of suburban Cook County…”

150 F40PH-2 Leonard S. Eisenberg

This is another name that I came up with nothing for. This is the locomotive with the C&NW M-19A safety award plaque on it so maybe he was involved in some way with that.

151 F40PH-2 Leo J. Cusick

I found the following quote in Metro Magazine about him:

"After entering the transportation industry at the age of 15, Leo Cusick went on to serve as an executive level official for several major transit agencies across the country, including systems in New York, Chicago, Boston and Kansas City, Mo. At the time of his retirement, Cusick was chief operating officer of the Northeastern Illinois RTA. His impact on Chicago’s Metra was such that the agency named one of its passenger rail units the “Leo J. Cusick” in his honor. Cusick was also inducted into APTA’s Hall of Fame."

F40PHM-2 200 Norman W. Muelner :

I found the following quote made by a Burlington Northern engineer to be the best, no-nonsense description of Mr. Muelner:

“He was a BN trainmaster. He had gotten off a train to help get another train going that had gone into emergency. He was the struck by another passing suburban train. I believe the weather was really bad at the time. Most of the guys will tell you he was great to work with.”

And last but not least F40C 614: Edward F. Brabec

"Journeyman in his trade, persuasive labor voice in public affairs, leader of the Plumbers' Union, and President of the Chicago Federation of Labor until his untimely death in 1986."

"Brabec began his career within organized labor as a member of the Journeymen Plumbers Union in 1946. He became a leader as the Secretary-Treasurer of his union in 1958. Throughout the Cold War era, Brabec actively promoted the cause of labor unions in various organizations. He served on the Chicago and Cook County Trades Council, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Regional Transportation Authority, and in 1984 he became president of the Chicago Federation of Labor."
Last edited by c604. on Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

  by Joe

  by AmtrakFan
Thier was BN 9910 named PUTZ

  by c604.
Amtrak Fan: This might be of interest to you. I found this page when searching around. I had no idea the BN E's had names of towns and people to that extent!

take a look

  by MikeF
The names on the BN E-units were on little metal plaques under the cab windows. In the early '70s, though, 9910 had "PUTZ" spelled out in big white letters under the window. Guess they figured a plaque with his full name would be a little classier. :wink:

  by F40CFan
I seem to remember seeing somewhere that the 105 was originally called "Cook County". Anyone know more about this?

  by MetraPace
105 was indeed "Cook County" I've seen a picture of it in RTA paint named as such.

  by F40CFan
Do you know why the name was changed? They still have unnamed locomotives, so they shouldn't have to rename them, unless they are trying to send a message to Cook County.
  by LedZeppelinFan85
I actually found some interesting information on Richard D. Newland from an obituary of his printed in 1979. Mr Newland was born on August 31, 1926 in Cedar Point, Iowa. He graduated from Drake University and was a successful banker and lived in Cedar Rapids where he was a vice-president of People's Bank & Trust Company. In 1962 he moved to Waukegan and helped start the Bank of Waukegan where he served as it's president. He was actively involved with the Waukegan Fire Department (he started a paramedic program with them). He was also on the board of trustees of the Regional Transit Authority (says Chicago Transit Authority in the article). He died on October 20, 1979 while visiting Las Vegas. Metra 130 (which of course is nicknamed the Richard D Newland) was built in November 1979, a month after his death according rrpicturearchieves.com. His obituary is mentioned on this link http://newspaperarchive.com/us/iowa/ced ... -22/page-2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by LedZeppelinFan85
I found some more research on both James Kemp and Leonard S. Eisenberg

Eisenberg, Leonard Sterling: He was a real estate executive from Glencoe and was also the chairman of the North Suburban Mass Transit Authority, which ended up becoming Pace Bus (it was Eisenberg who pretty much started the Pace Bus). He later became a board member of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). He was born in 1923 and died in 1982 while serving with the RTA. He was a very successful businessman too. Metra 150 is named in his honor. There’s some information regarding Eisenberg. http://prabook.com/web/mobile/#!profile/293510" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Kemp, James Horace: He was a civil rights leader from Chicago's South Side and the national president of the NAACP as well as a labor activist. However Kemp also served as a board member of the Regional Transit Authority as well and improved working conditions as well as wages for the employees and union relations. He was born in 1912 and died in 1983. RTA 105 (now Metra 105), which was originally named “Cook County” was renamed after he died in 1983 (although it doesn’t include his middle initial H for Horace). Here’s some information on James Kemp https://www.upi.com/Archives/1983/12/07 ... 439621200/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by orangeline
F40PH 100: Ernest Marsh

Over the weekend I was flipping through a Trains magazine in the local library and they had a small blurb on F40 #100 being rebuilt. The caption said it was originally named "Village of LaGrange" in honor of the EMD plant's location (it's really in McCook, but McCook uses the LaGrange zip code). That engine supposedly spent/spends all its time on the UP lines. Why wasn't it used on the BN line which actually has 2 stops in LaGrange?
  by eolesen
Naming has always been little more than a nice to have consideration factor on where locomotives got assigned.

As I remember it... the first batch of F40PH's were assigned to the Rock Island, which was already being operated and dispatched by the CNW. They wound up with ATS so that they could be easily routed on both the Rock and the CNW lines with ATS.

When RTA took over operating the RID, they assigned non-ATS equipment for operational simplicity, and perhaps to also keep the CNW's unions happy. Each locomotive has its own personality, so leaving it with the same maintenance base makes some sense...
  by eolesen
As for Marsh.... yes, he was CEO of Santa Fe (Chicago headquartered in the 1970's). he was named to the RTA board in 1973, but passed away in October 1975.

Here is his obit:
Ernest S. Marsh, 72, Regional Transportation Authority board member and retired railroad industry leader, died "at his Chicago home Thursday, apparently from a heart attack.

Marsh was best known for his success story with the Santa Fe R.R., where he started as a rail clerk in New Mexico and eventually became chief executive officer and chairman of the board. He was born in Lynchburg, Va., in 1903, and by age 15 he was a rail clerk in Clovis, N. Mex., for the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe R.R.

His steady advancement brought him to Chicago in 1942, and he became director of Sante Fe Industries in 1956., He was president from 1957-67 and chairman of the board from 1967 until his retirement in 1973. Marsh's appointment to the RTA board in 1974 was the latest in a series of appointed positions he held in the Chicago area. He had been a member of the Illinois Racing Board from 1961-69, and was a lifetime member of, the National Assn. of State Racing Commissioners.

Marsh held honorary degrees from the University of Southern California, Bradley University in Peorla, and New Mexico State University. He had been a member of the board of directors of Montgomery Ward and Co., Harris Bankcorp., Assn. of American -Railroads, Western Railway Assn., Chicago and national Junior Achievement organizations, American Heritage Foundation, Community Fund of Chicago, Midwest Research Institute, Foundation for American Agriculture, Farm Foundation,' Mid- America Club and the Travel'Program for Foreign Diplomats.

He was also a life trustee of the Illinois Institute of Technology and a member of the Newcomer Society and the Illinois Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He had been associated with Northwestern University since 1960.
While RTA didn't announce the order of F40PH's until 1977, my guess is he was instrumental in pushing for the F40PH order prior to his death.