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“I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad”
22” x 28” Oil on Canvas, 2007
Private Collection

Extra 5125 west ascending the ruling 1.8 percent grade is about to pass extra 5131 east near mile post 119 on
the east side of Bozeman Pass in Montana on a stormy summer night in 1948. The gigantic Z-7 and Z-8 4-6-6-
4s capable of handling long freights in mountainous territory or passenger trains when necessary represent the
most modern powerful articulated steam power on the Northern Pacific Railway. Two signal maintenance men
repairing a semaphore in the inclement and dangerous weather conditions can be seen in the dimmed headlights
of the passing trains. One of them dutifully pauses to check the trains for hot boxes or other problems. A
torrential, wind-blown rain is about to strike and drench them. The first line of the famous railroad song
proclaiming “I’ve been working on the railroad all the livelong day” says it all for these railroaders.
Copyright © David A. Oram