Veteran train engineer will talk about his 50 years on the rails

JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 24, 2023 — The Greene County Historical Society will present a free program, “A Railroad LIfe,” on Friday, Aug. 4, at the Grand Junction Community Center, 212 Main St.

Retired engineer John Valmaine of Boone will regale the audience with tales of his life on the rails. He worked for the Chicago Northwestern, which merged with the Union Pacific in 1995, for 40 years. He headed freight trains, rolling in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, and did many grain runs north out of Grand Junction.

For the last 10 years of his career, he drove the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad engine.

“I stepped into my first engine on Christmas Eve 1973,” he says. “It was 20 below. My last run for the Boone Scenic was on Christmas Eve 2014. It was only six below that night.”

Valmain recalls that when he began driving trains, the rules and regs book fit in his back pocket. “Now you need a briefcase,” he says. And, in1973, the engineer’s cab had a crew of four. Today, the crew is made up of two men, and there’s talk of going to a single engineer, he adds.

The 12:45 p.m. program is free. Lunch, provided by Grand Junction’s Horizons Club, will be served at noon. Cost is $10. Reservations are requested by Aug. 1

To assure a place at the lunch table, please call 515-386-4408, or your Historical Society community contact:

Churdan: Nancy Wessling, 515-389-3325

Grand Junction: Janice Gillley, 515-738-2642

Jefferson: Marilynn Hoskinson, 515-386-3490

Paton: Virginia Carlson, 515-386-2401

Rippey: Mary Weaver, 515-360-8046

Scranton: Dawn Rudolph, 515-370-5605


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