The AT&SF 3817 frequently pulled Conductor Decker’s trains, seen here south of Littleton on December 5, 1938. Whether a Santa Fe or a Colorado & Southern, 2-10-2’s pulled Conductor Decker’s trains. Otto Perry photo, Denver Public Library Special Collections, OP-1980.
ATSF CS Condutor Car Report Mark Sellars analysis – Mark Sellars has put together an excellent spreadsheet summarizing the data contained in the book and adding additional information of his own. Much better than the original!
Harrison B. Decker and the Joint Line
Harrison Benjamin Decker was a Santa Fe conductor working the Colorado Joint Line. Due to the interesting operational arrangement on the Joint Line, he handled both Santa Fe and Colorado & Southern trains, interchangeably equipped by locomotives and cabooses from either railroad.
Mark Sellars from the CBQ groups.io group gives an excellent summary of the time:
The form 808 was an AT&SF (Conductors Train Record) standard form and filled in by an individual conductor. Form 808 was a conductor’s log book. Being the boss of a train, in that book he recorded every significant event or item of trip importance, usually carried in his overall’s hip pocket.
Mr HB Decker was employed as a “Joint Track Train man”; he hired out as a brakeman (seniority date: Nov. 1916) and was promoted to conductor (seniority date: Mar. 1921). By 1936 he had insufficient seniority to bid for passenger trains but could successfully bid to “plum” freights.
The Joint Track was in fact the AT&SF Denver Division’s Denver District (Pueblo to Denver, CO) and commonly known locally as the “Joint Line”. This was operated under successive Joint Operating Agreements (from Aug. 1, 1899) “JOAs” whereby the C&S (from 1907 a subsidiary of the CB&Q) was a tenant of the AT&SF. The unique feature of the JOAs was that the line was operated as single economic entity favouring neither the AT&SF nor the C&S. The advantages to both railroads was so powerful that the JOAs were effective right up to the AT&SF and BN 1995.
Under the JOAs from day one, the AT&SF and the C&S pooled their crews that had been on their books and formed a common call board, ranked by seniority. As men left the service pools there were replaced by fresh hires; Joint Line Enginemen and Joint Track Trainmen.
Each railroad contributed equipment which was used as available; thus AT&SF equipment could be assigned to C&S train, and vice versa.
From at least Nov. 1918 the Joint Line operated both scheduled passenger and freight trains. If there was insufficient traffic the train did not run; if there was significant traffic multiple sections or even unscheduled Extras were run.
In 1937, the scheduled trains were:
AT&SF passenger two trains each way
C&S passenger two trains each way
AT&SF freight two trains each way (31/36, 41/46)
C&S freight two trains each way (75/76, 73/74)
AT&SF way freight one train, one direction each day, daily except Sunday (97/98)
It is likely that with the US economy building after the Great Depression that Mr Decker, along with other railroad crews, was finding more work.
Larry Green provides further details about the crew arrangement between the two roads:
Special thanks to Mark Sellars for his excellent work and to the CBQ groups.io group!
Colorado & Southern 900 near Littleton on Valentine’s Day, 1937. Conductor Decker had a few doubleheader trains such as this, and in May would spend several trips behind the 900 on the Santa Fe wayfreight. Otto Perry photo, Denver Public Library Special Collections, OP-7027.