Thursday, March 31, 2005

transcontinental railroad workers [James Morrison Bain]

From: "Mary I. Hays"

Hi. My grandfather, James Morrison Bain was a barber on the railroad from Chicago to Los Angeles around the 1930's. I would have no idea where to search for information on him or about railroad barbers. My oldest brother, George, said he would go down to the train station in Flagstaff, Arizona in the early 1970's and talk to old timers who remembered our grandfather. I don't know what rail line he worked for, but I believe it was Union Pacific. He had been a barber in his hometown of Fraserburgh, Scotland and well respected there until moving his family to Chicago in the 1920's. He remained in his occupation until his death on October 16, 1937 and my mother tells me that grandpa may have actually been on the job when he died. His son, William Bain, was my father. Any information people could provide me with about my grandfather or about railroad barbers in general would be appreciated. I hope this helps and adds to the fascinating history of our railways.

Mary I. Hays
Rio Rico, AZ


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


In the 1930's the barber would have most likely worked for the Pullman company since there were only barbershops on first class trains and those cars were leased with staff from the Pullman company. You should try the Chicago Historical Society, and the Newberry Library and see where that takes you. Quite likely by now personnel records of the Pullman company have long since been destroyed.

3/31/2005 4:14 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "chris graves"

My recollection of Chicago to LA was the Santa Fe Chief........chris graves

3/31/2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Randall Hees"

Taking into account the clues, including a train between Chicago and Los Angeles, His "base" being Chicago, and railroaders in Flagstaff remembering him, I would strongly suggest that the railroad would have been the Santa Fe, since Flagstaff is on their mainline, and since they were the only railroad serving that route entirely on their own tracks (the Union Pacific used the tracks of the Chicago & Northwestern to get from Omaha to Chicago)

I have a Santa Fe booklet for the Santa Fe Super Chief (Probably from the late 30's) which notes under "Special Services Aboard the Super Chief ... Barber Shop and Shower Bath, In the Club Lounge car in the center of the train is a complete shop and experienced barber. Adjoining the barber shop is a shower bath."

4/01/2005 8:33 AM  

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