Dennis W Faircloth

Hired July 20, 1970 

Retired March 1, 2013

What was your first job on the Missouri-Illinois Railroad and what were the daily duties?

My first job was while I was in high school working for the M&I station agent in my home town of Bonne Terre I worked part-time for about 3 years. What I did not know at the time was instead of being a part-time job that I enjoyed, it was a 3 year apprenticeship.  During this time I learned how to do demurrage, waybill cars, deliver telegrams and Railway Express.  The telegrams still where being received on telegraph.   I also learned some about crew boards, there was only two regular jobs and an extra board, so wasn’t too hard.   My first job, where my pay check came from Missouri-Illinois was in July of 1970, I hired out on the Missouri-Illinois Railroad as a telegrapher-clerk, my seniority date was the 20th, but that was after breaking in on my own time for about a week or more at Ste Genevieve.  I worked 3rd trick the first night, and the regular man laid off so I could get my seniority date, but he spent most of the night with me just to make sure I did everything right.



The Missouri Illinois was different than working on the Mo Pac, in the since that your duties would have been several jobs on the Mo Pac. Also the jobs where all 6 days a week. 


On the M&I was was responsible for:

Calling crews

Waybilling cars

Handling demurrage

Walk and check the yard and make list of all cars

Weigh cars (you had to be WWIB certified weigh master)

Copying train orders

OS trains (report trains leaving your station to teh dispatcher)

Clean depot


The carmen were also the round house force, and as anywhere were understaffed.  They would allow me to help them out when time allowed.  Hostling the motive power around the roundhouse and turn locomotives on the wye.  As a telegraph-clerk, you was also qualified as an Agent operator.  This allowed me to work at several stations.


 In Missouri


Crystal City-Festus

Bonne Terre


Ste Genevieve 


In Illinois


Nashville Hoyleton

Sparta depot downtown and yards were the MI Shops  

Salem was still open (however I never worked there)

What were your duties, what were the most interesting or challenging areas?

The duties where all about the same as mentioned above at all stations, of those calling crews was often both interesting and challenging.  On more than one occasion I went to a tavern and got someone off a bar stool to go to work. On other occasions go the hotel and wake people up.  On at least one occasion when there was no rooms at the hotel a conductor sleep on his caboose and I would wake him up there. 

What was best part of working of the Mo Ill

Working with men who had worked on the railroads in Germany during WWII and they would take the time to teach you the correct way of doing things and look out for you as if you where their son.  Getting to work at the different stations, and being able to the different duties which would have been prohibited on the Mopac

What did the railroad focus on as your daily responsibilities?

Move the traffic safely and complete all required paper work

How did the M-I differ from other railroads.

I was lucky I spent my entire career with one railroad, even though the name changed, I only hired out once.

What changes did you see in your career that you felt were significant?

When I hired out on the Missouri Illinois there was not any computers on the M&I, and there was only one station with a radio, which was the MI Shops yard office.  This was the yard office at Sparta, Illinois in 197?  Computers came to the M-I in 1975.   Learning to be a Train Dispatcher, in the MoPac Chester Ill office of which dispatched Southern Illinois including the M-I Sparta Sub.   The changes in train dispatching going from trains orders to track warrants and all the steps in between.  Changing from using a 1940’s GRS CTC machine in Chester, Illinois to using a CAD system at the HDC Centralized Dispatching office in Omaha.  One of the biggest and perhaps one of the most unacknowledged velocity hindering action in the modern railroad industry was the change in hiring and educating.  New Train Dispatchers without a railroad back ground, versus promoting within the company.  

Any stories you can tell now you couldn't when you were working?

After breaking in for the week or so, I was required to take Book of rules test with the Assistant Trainmaster at Ste Genevieve.  I was told to report to his office at 10:00 am.  When I showed up, he shut the door behind me, pulled the shades on the windows, asked me a couple of questions then had me step outside on the platform, ask me if I knew what a railroad track was and corrected the answer I gave him.  Then turn towards the parking lot, and asked which car was mine.  When I told him, he instructed me to get in it and leave and not to return until 11:00 am and then enter the depot through his door.

I did just that and when I returned he gave me a signed rules card.  It only took me until later that night to learn the disadvantages of not having a proper test, when repeating the first train order I copied to the dispatcher at Poplar Bluff I got chewed out not spelling the numbers correct (I spelled zero instead of naught) then I got chewed out the second time when I said It was my first day. The dispatcher told me I had taken a book of rules just like everyone else.

Another winter evening in the 70’s while working second shift at Ste Genevieve when I boarded the caboose of outbound “Long Barrel” to deliver the Frisco train orders the conductor told me the stove would not stay lit.  The carman were walking the air on the train and were not close (and we had no radios).  The conductor and I took the fuel line off the carburetor and by passed it and went straight in the stove, now we had a good fire.  About two hours later the conductor phoned from Herculaneum and told me he was setting out his caboose and taking the Herky switchers, when I questioned why, he told the stove worked a little too good and had caught the whole caboose on fire.   It was a center cupola MP Magor caboose.


How did working for the railroad affect your personal or family life.

Because the M-I jobs where six day a week jobs, my regular job was 3rd trick with Sunday off. I order to be off the night of our wedding, I had to pay the 3rd trick operator at Sparta to drive to Ste Genevieve and work his night off I paid he $25 cash.   I was off Sunday and returned to work on Monday.  

When our first child was born in March of 72,  I worked first trick, went to hospital where my wife was in labor and had been for hours, the baby finally arrived around 2:00 am, I went and took a nap and returned to work on first trick. I thought nothing of either one of these being unusual, however by the time I retired this would have been very unacceptable.  On the flip side it keep me, from having to go to several in-law activates. 


What will be regarded as accomplishments you made in your Mo-Ill & Mo Pac career.

Learning to railroad on the M-I and learning to Dispatch from the men at the Chester office, these two things which was over several years gave me a sound foundation for a successful career. 

What was Mo Pac's relationship like with the unions?  Other railroads, customers.

While working on the M-I being represented by the clerks union was very non-eventful. However working as a Dispatcher working on the Mo Pac being represented by the ATDA (American Train Dispatchers Association) was a very different story, it seemed as if you were hated by the other crafts and the officers alike. An often found yourself charged in an investigation. Working a lot of days with deferred days hanging over your head.  I believe a lot this was brought on by the bad relationship between the company and ATDA, who at the time seem to have some very difficult leadership and did not work well with the company even to a point of causing problems after the merger when the company tried to bring the Mop Dispatchers up to the same pay and benefits standards as the UP, ending in a Federal court trial.

What was it like working for the Mopac during the UP merger?

Once the union issues were resolved, it was very good, the company did everything they could to increase pay and benefits we went from travelers insurance at 80/20 to full coverage overnight.  Pay increases with an end of year bonus.


What was the most interesting job on the railroad you had?

Manager of Train Dispatching 1998 to 2004.  This job gave me the opportunity to coach dispatchers

on application of rules and practices, on every territory on the Union Pacific system controlled from the HDC. In addition to this I was allowed to travel and worked in the Dispatching offices or control operator offices  in Spring (Texas), San Bernardino,  Ft Worth, North Platte, South Morrill (Nebraska), North Little Rock, Kansas City (Kansas), as well as, the CSX Jacksonville office. 


My career was just a few months short of 43 years, during this time I never missed a pay check, and enjoyed most every day. There was a lot of very hard days especially during the flood of 1993.