Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Small News, Large Reflection

I found a somewhat dated (Nov 2012) article regarding some job losses at the CSX 'Collinwood Yard' in the Cleveland neighborhood of the same name as the yard. The inclusion of some history was of great note to me.
The Collinwood Railroad Yards &; Diesel Terminal at E. 152nd St. on Cleveland's East Side, was once one of the major repair facilities and freight transfer points for New York Central Railroad and later the Penn Central Transportation Co., according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

In 1929, the yards were expanded to handle 2,000 freight cars a day, and by 1933, about 2,000 engineers, firemen, brakeman, conductors and others worked there.
 Interesting to me- nothing was said about the steam locomotive shops. Those are long gone, of course, but those shops were a prime reason I was born and raised in the Cleveland area. As the family folklore goes, my great-great grandfather was lured from Slovenia to work in the shops. Apparently, a foreman was a Slovene. When he needed experienced machinists, he turned to the Old Country. My best guess is that my great-great-grandfather came around 1900, but certainly prior to World War 1.

Collinwood Yard seems to have lost a little bit of relevance with each railroad merger since it was New York Central property. Those locomotive shops were an enormous presence, highly visible from I-90. I had a hockey teammate in Cleveland who worked on the then-Conrail 'RIP' (repair-in-place) track in the late 70s. It's long gone too.

Technologies come and go, and steam disappeared better than 50 years ago, so I'm not surprised the old shops came down. With mergers, I'm not surprised if within the new, larger systems a more efficient place to work on locomotives and cars. More than lament the shrinking of the yard, I wonder more about our country as a place that creates huge numbers of jobs and attracts immigrants. While the way we live changes and yesterday's top technologies are replaced, our attitude about immigrants, about policies regarding job creation matter. My Slovenian ancestor wasn't lured to England, nor to Germany or Russia. I refuse to go back to Cleveland due to tax policy, as I estimate I saved an entire average year's income since moving to Indiana, just on tax rate differences.

There is much to be learned in policy in these areas.

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