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Railroad history topic of Yorktown gathering

By Victoria Advocate
June 25, 2012 at 1:25 a.m.

The last Southern Pacific train to stop in Yorktown in 1972. Pictured, from the left, are Lee Roy Griffin Jr., Weldon Blaschke (getting his last load of lumber for Blaschke Lumber off the train), conductor Floyd "Mo" Kilgore, engineer George Baker Jr., and Yorktown Mayor Albert Schwartz.  Baker retired in 1981 with 39 years of service with Southern Pacific Railroad.

IF YOU GO

• WHO: Yorktown Historical Society

• WHAT: Memories and Memorabilia - the History of the Railroad

• WHEN: Reception, 5 p.m.; program, 6 p.m. Tuesday

• WHERE: Yorktown Historical Museum, 144 W. Main St.

• INFORMATION: 361-564-9115 or 361-935-5243

Yorktown native and railroad veteran Joe McMillan is the featured speaker at Memories and Memorabilia - the History of the Railroad at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Yorktown Heritage Museum.

McMillan, who retired from the Santa Fe Railroad after many years in management, will share historic photographs of Yorktown and the surrounding area.

He will also present the museum a San Antonio & Aransas Pass (SA&AP) car record book from August 1889, a year or two after the railroad was built through Yorktown, according to a news release from the Yorktown Historical Society.

"Many years ago, when the old train station was still standing, I recovered an old cash book from the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad (predecessor to the Southern Pacific)," McMillan said in the news release.

"The book was covered in dust in the attic of the depot. Included in it are the names of many Yorktown businesses that were shipping goods by train at that time."

McMillan followed a path on the railroad after leaving Yorktown and graduating from Texas Tech University.

He worked as a draftsman in Santa Fe Railroad's office of the Eastern Lines chief engineer in Topeka, Kan.

He worked there a year before taking a leave of absence to fulfill a military obligation in the Corps of Engineers.

Following assignments in France and Germany, McMillan returned to his former position with the Santa Fe at Topeka.

Later, he joined the operating department and became the safety supervisor of the Illinois Division at Fort Madison, Iowa, followed by assistant trainmaster positions at Los Angeles and Needles, Calif.

McMillan was later promoted to assistant superintendent of safety-system at Chicago.

He retired in 1995 as the assistant director of safety and rules.

In 1977, he founded McMillan Publications, which publishes books and calendars, many related to the Santa Fe Railroad.

McMillan presented the Yorktown Public Library a copy of his book, "Route of the Warbonnets," in 1978.

Other visiting railroad enthusiasts are expected to share photos and artifacts from the San Antonio & Aransas Pass and Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad on Tuesday.

These include Tommie Nuinez Bullock, artist and former owner of the Yorktown Depot; Jim Vollmar, secretary of the Rosenberg Railroad Museum and author of "Railroads of Fort Bend County;" Ken Stavinoha, collector of SA&AP memorabilia and owner of the Eagle Lake Railroad Depot; Tommy Shults, train enthusiast; Cathy Passmore, author of "Karnes County: Images of America;" Shirley Mueller and Cathy Voelkel, authors of "Nordheim and Yorktown: Images of America;" and Susan Wieland, daughter of George Baker Jr., the engineer on the last train to Yorktown in February 1972.

The event is free.

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