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Changing of the Guard
20" x 30", Acrylic on Canvas, 2007
Private Collection

On a hot, humid August afternoon in 1948, Northern Pacific Railway’s streamlined North Coast Limited,
inaugurated the previous year, is slowing to a stop at Fargo, ND. The engineer will skillfully bring the train to a
stop within inches of the west edge of Broadway to avoid blocking pedestrian and vehicular traffic.  A new crew
waits on the platform, ready to take the train the remaining 250 miles to St Paul, MN. Conductor Charley Asselin
approaches brakeman Al “Jep” Jeppesen. Al’s ten year old son who has come to Fargo with his dad as a non-
paying guest of the railroad stands by the hedge trying to remain inconspicuous. The westbound caboose hop
passing by is powered by 1734, a W-3 class 2-8-2. Fireman Glenn Hove checks for potential dangers or conflicts
while two crew members on the rear platform escape the heat inside the caboose. It seems prophetic that 6502,
an F-3 A-B-B GM-EMD diesel, is moving into the foreground while the steamer recedes into the background. In a
decade diesels will replace all steam on the NP.
Copyright © 2017 David A. Oram