Wayne Roderick, 3rd Division, PNR, NMRA (life)
07/15/98 rev 01/16/07
I grew up in the town of Evanston Wyoming on the Union Pacific mainline in the days of waning steam. Had opportunities to ride little (0-6-0) and big (turbines) locos within the yard limits and was rather hooked on the model railroading hobby by twelve years of age. The theme of the Teton Short Line started in the summer of 1951. I was 16 years of age, between my Sophmore and Junior year in highschool and working for a construction company in the Grand Teton National Park, . south of the Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. The magnificence of this country is hard to convey, you've just got to see it to believe it. I spent a full summer of hard work with a contractor building concrete highway bridges. We enjoyed the girls working on summer jobs at the nearby Flagg Ranch, drank lots of Sheridan beer and gave absolutely no thought to model railroading.
I was/am/is/willbe into model railroading, but then it was Lionel tinplate. I even ran an unofficial Lionel repair business during the previous school years and was known as the "doctor of trains". I eventually got through the transistional stage of automobiles, girls, graduation, more school, jobs, courtship, marriage, first child and some of those other details that seem to divert a fellows attention from his primary hobby and by 1964 was building the dream home that would house the new but unnamed HO guage empire. Made room for the family too.
What to call the new railroad? I wanted to free lance so as not to be bound by actual prototype history and so we searched diligently for a theme and good name. Lots of novel names came up, some with family intitials, some related to locations or goals and some with dry humor but I remembered John Allens comments regretting his novel name choice for the Gorre and Dephetid. Gradually the concept of a North-South route bridging the GN in Montana and the UP in Idaho emerged along with those memories of my summer in the the Grand Tetons. I ignored that fact that UP already provided the service from my hometown of Pocatello Idaho North to Montana and we established the Teton Short Line right thru the heart of the Grand Teton National Park where my passengers could enjoy the great scenery and wildlife. This took some pretty tricky legal manuevering that we will not discuss here, to get the Charter dated 1893, twenty three years before the National Park Service existed.
Yellowstone was the Nations first National Park designated by President Ulysses Grant in 1872 and our scheming lawyers just couldn't prove a pre-existing charter, so we found a way to skirt Yellowstone on our way North. Fortunately we got this all done before they invented the modern ecologists, tree huggers and wild animal protection and restoration groups. We do have a little trouble with the mooses, or is it meese. The big bulls like to challenge our engines for right of way. They just lower that big rack and dare us! Our forward brakeman now carry a cattle prod on a long stick- it helps us win without fatalities.
The official TSL herald was established along with the name in about 1966. I carefully drew up the master on posterboard with india inks and it has since been photographed, photocopied, enlarged, shrunk, put on T-shirts and hats and FAXed. In later years we made another master in AutoCad that can be more easily scaled and manipulated. If you visit our web site, you'll see that my professional logo for Teton Engineering Inc is an adaptation of the Teton Short Line logo.
A year later, 1967, backdrops were painted on 90 lineal feet of walls in two rooms depicting the scenery that we travel through. The Grand Teton was projected from a 35mm slide onto the wall and my artist friend Conn Housley charcoaled the outline and then painted it in acrylics. The backdrops are the first thing visitors see and the usually the first thing that they comment on.
They still look great 30 years later.
In 1972, we publicly documented the Teton Short Line name with a three page article in June MR describing the technical aspects of our three color signalling system. I also have a certificate of registration from the NMRA, #73-U010 dated March 73.
Private names can be fun. I've never regretted our decision to do our own thing or the name choice, it's never gotten old or passe and it's got permanence, at least until the mountains of the Grand Teton erode to dust. I'm not a historian in the true sense of the word. I enjoy the history of course, but I have no longing for the good old days because the way I see it- These are the good days! I worked the summer of '52 at age 17 on the Union Pacific Railroad Aspen tunnel gang- 70 hours a week on a jack hammer replacing the concrete floor and I decided I didn't want to work for the railroad as a career. Even driving those big locos was not particularly appealing, they could only go forward and backward, had no ailerons, diving planes or even a steering wheel and you couldn't go anywhere but down the track. I made my living in aviation and never wanted but one job on the railroad and that was to own it! I own the TSL- it doesn't own me. The TSL does not have to show a profit or please the stockholders and so we have no accounting or billing department, but we do have a great (read as fun) engineering department. The TSL has no compelling history to narrow our visions of things to do even though it has been frozen in the time of waning steam, 4 axle diesels, 40 foot cars with LCL freight that was present when I was a teenager on the UP mainline. If I want to change the signalling system from ABS to CTC, there is no history to stop me, we'll just write our own history. I wonder if it isn't time to start a Teton Short Line Historical Society?
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