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The speaker is a 47-year-old White woman with a high school education from Sharon Springs, Kansas; she was recorded in 1968.
8:40-11:08



County: Wallace
State: KS

Commentary:
Sharon Springs, Kansas, the county seat of Wallace County, is a small town with a present-day population of about 840 people, located near the border of Colorado. In this segment the informant laments the decline of the railroad industry, and the loss of jobs that will come with it. The railways were an important industry in Kansas starting in 1863, when the Eastern Division of the Union Pacific Railway was the first railroad company to connect the eastern border of Kansas with the Missouri River. By the 1880s there was an influx of rail lines; the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, Chicago, and Missouri Pacific, among others, built lines throughout the state. The railroads are credited with bringing jobs to the area, and thus settlers.
Inf: Oh, it's like taking a page out of history and just tearing it up and throwing it away. You know, as far back as I can remember even reading about, there's been a Union Pacific Railroad. And if this merger takes place, the Union Pacific will be a thing of the past. And one of the main reasons that I've always been so concerned about this is that I come from a family of railroaders. My dad was a railroader. He worked on the railroad in Sharon Springs from 1910 until his, just before his death in 1948. And I think probably some of the best times I ever had in my life was fooling around down by the, oh the old roundhouse.

Some people probably don't even know what a roundhouse is, but it was a shop where the machines were, the engines were worked on and kept fired up for the next train out. There was the old turntable. I can remember on Sunday afternoons once in a while we'd go down to the roundhouse and they'd be getting an engine out and they'd let us get on the turntable and ride while they turned the old engine around and headed it out. And of course this was a great treat for a kid back in the twenties and thirties. That wh-, about the only ride you ever got to take. [Laughter]

But then we had the, the old loading dock up at the depot. It was a long dock, probably about seventy-five yards long, and about six feet high, about ten feet across. It was a fabulous place to play. We'd come to town on Sunday afternoons to bring Dad to work. We'd play on the old loading dock, running up and down. And, sin- if it was a real hot day, we were always given a piece of ice, and this in itself was a luxury, back when I was growing up. We didn't have ice. There wasn't any way to get ice unless you cut it off the river. And you just didn't eat that kind of ice. It wasn't fit for human consumption. You used it for cooling or freezing ice cream, but you didn't eat it. And you didn't use it to cool drinks. But, the old railroad, finally, it's just about a thing of the past.

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