- - - With a Past
Won Her Hand
by Larry Crittenden
beauty never dies! Therefore, all ladies are truly beautiful
- and Rio Grande's boom car for the Salt Lake City, Utah wrecking
crane is no exception.
Look at her. What do you see? A flat car with weather-beaten
floor boards scarred by heavy tools and machinery and work-train
service, her parts unbecoming-ly exposed to the elements?
Of course, but there is something more. Note her figure, streamlined,
unencumbered by frills, utterly naked in simplicity. There
is an aura of mystery and intrigue about her, a past glamour
that gives her char-acter.
Utopia of the Day
She was born a great lady. The Barney and Smith Car Company
built her in 1910 for the Mexican government. She was to be
the private, luxury car of President Francisco Madero. Her
interior of solid mahogany boasted an ornate built-in sideboard
with leaded glass doors. Tapestry covered the great couch
and chairs in her salon. Deep carpeting was used throughout.
Anticipating the difficulty of the times, bullet-proof glass
was ordered for her windows. She was indeed the "Utopia" of
But that day never came. Before she could be delivered in
all her splendor, the Madero regime was overthrown - Pancho
Villa, the revolutionary general, was terrorizing the countryside.
She was denied forever her political glory.
She became the mistress of the wealthy. Bought by the Marlin
Oil Company, she was the highest standard of leisure and idle
pleasure. Haughty and regal, she reigned queen, pampered and
boasted over. Then one night, evil again embraced her. The
air was heavy with smoke. Her beauty was unnoticed. Men sat
around her table playing poker. Often she had witnessed exchange
of moneys, great and small, with not one whit of compassion.
But tonight was different. Suddenly she became the pawn, put
up for a stake. In a matter of seconds she was lost to a hand
of four eight's.
Four of a Kind
Her new owner, proud of his dexterity, had "8888" painted
in gold over the doorway to her vestibule. She wore them not
as an adornment but rather as a badge of defeat. Her tastes
were expensive. Her demands outweighed her values in pleasure.
Again she was put up for sale.
In the early 1930's she was purchased by William Freeman,
president of the D&SL Railway for about $25,000. Again she
promised luxury and ease, a position of prominence and desire.
Vixen that she was she must have smiled at such arrogance.
The I.C.C. ruled that private cars could no longer be transported
throughout the country on various railroads at no cost. Now
a set fee plus a fare for each passenger must be charged.
This defeated any personal plans. The car was never used off
the Moffat until Mr. Freeman's retirement. Judge McCarthy
succeeded him and later was appointed trustee of the Denver
& Rio Grande Western, at which time the car was used on both
Wheels of Fortune
In April 1947, when the Rio Grande and the D&SL were consolidated,
the car was placed in the Business Car pool as No.105. It
was shortly thereafter that ill fortune struck again. Fire
was discovered between the walls of No. 105, alias "8888,"
while en route to Salt Lake City. Passengers, routed from
their sleep, escaped unharmed, but the fire could not be extinguished.
Angry flames devoured a path to her salon. At first the four
8's were lighted to the brilliance of a neon sign. Then they
began to blister and finally to disintegrate to oblivion.
It was as if her shame was at last purified by fire. Her revenge
Her damage was so extensive she was beyond repair, but not
Don't say she is now just a boom car. Should you see her around
Salt Lake City, tip your hat, for here is a lady worthy of
your respect. Born to grandeur, she has risen to greater destiny
- service to mankind.