Iron Man Of The Month

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''On the railroad we were always in a hurry to get there,'' says Leo Clark. He often quoted an old railroad cliche (also Pennsylvania Dutch philosophy) ''The faster I go, the behinder I get.'' Now that he's off the fast run, we'll see how behinder he get
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Charles L. Pattison, President of T.P. & W. Railroad, congratulates Leo Clark upon retiring after 51 years service 48 years were as engineer. Leo looks natural here, if only he had his cameras hanging on him. Photo by Leo Clark, Hollywood Studio, Washingt
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We like the headlight on this one When a lad on the farm, the engineer allowed Leo to pull the throttle on the Coleen Engine. He then decided to become an engineer. Here he is in front of first locomotive he ran, August 9, 1921. Slimmer and without specs
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Hold the presses! My wife found a picture she had snapped of Leo and me, admiring one of my scale brass model locomotives along the race track at Montpelier, Ohio N.T.A. We were no doubt right beside Uncle Elmer's stand and we had to be good.
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This one my wife took of Leo Clark in engineer's overalls and cap, taking a picture of the N.T.A. sawmill at Montpelier, Ohio. Shutter-bugs and engineers can't always worry about the crease in their britches. Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, 730 Front St., Gre
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Photo taken several years ago of Leo Clark in cab of his diesel locomotive on the T.P. & W.R.R. Steam was more romantic - diesels too automatic to be fun. Photo by Leo Clark, Hollywood Studio, Washington, Illinois. Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, 730 Front St
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Iron-Man Leo Clark thought this caricature of an engineer someone had drawn on a wall was quite funny. So he posed himself beside it while someone snapped the camera. Possibly Goldie snapped the shutter. Photos by Clark are developed and printed by him at
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Courtesy of Isaac L. Friesen, R. R. 1, Box 412, Winkler, Manitoba, Canada. A picture of a George White engine, having broken through a bridge. It was half a days work to get the machine back into service.
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Our Iron-Man, Leo Clark - He Hobnobs With Movie Stars and Governors and Presidents Leo Clark was campus photographer for Eureka College at Eureka, Illinois for twenty years. He and Ronald Reagan were invited to a tea at the college president's house. Rea
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Leo Clark poses on observation platform of railroad president's official car taken at Vonachens Jet. It was their 40th wedding anniversary, but Goldie had to take the picture. Leo rarely gets in front of the camera. Photo by Leo Clark, Washington, Illinoi



At a Midwestern thresherman’s reunion, he’s the fellow
with all the fancy cameras hanging around his neck. Back home on
the high iron of the T. P. & W., he’s the big fellow up in
the cab racing to meet a schedule ‘on the advertised’.

Whether it’s at the National Threshermen’s Association
at Wauseon, Ohio, the reunion at Pontiac, I’ll., The Old-Timer
Threshers and Sawmillers near Fort Wayne, Ind., or at Mr. Pleasant,
Iowa, the friendly ‘Hello’, the warm smile and horn-rimmed
spectacles under the engineer’s cap, the several cameras
dangling from shoulder straps and press camera in hand all have
become quite the fixture wherever men have gathered together to pay
honors to ‘King Steam’. And, likely as not, after briefing
himself on the run’s orders, comparing railroad Hamiltons with
the conductor, stuffing his ‘flimsies’ into his
engineer’s bib, he might just find time to climb down from his
locomotive cab with camera in hand to take an official photograph
for The Toledo, Peoria and Western should the occasion demand.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. For that’s been the work-a-day
schedule as well as summer-fun pastime of engineer-photographer Leo
Clark who’s climbed down from his locomotive cab for the last
time, after fifty-three years of service on The Toledo, Peoria and
Western Railroad.

‘What I’ll do now?’ says Clark, pondering the usual
questions friends always fire at one who retires. ‘Well, as an
engineer I was always in a hurry to get to the next station with my
train. ‘The Hurrier I go, the Behinder I get’. But now I
might just get me a trailer and travel the more leisurely way and,
of course, take pictures wherever I go.’

For Iron Man Leo Clark, taking pictures is like breathing.
Whether it’s been in the official capacity of railroad
photographer or just sauntering over the grounds at some Midwestern
threshermen’s reunion to take a picture of an old steam
traction engine, the worst problem he ever had to contend with was
choosing which of his several fine cameras he’d use to do the
job. Should the next photo be snapped with his automatic
Rollieflex, an old Kodak folding camera, a modern Japanese camera
with all the gadgets and high-speed aperture, or his trusty old
four-by-five Speed Graphic ‘blunderbuss’ which he’s
often pressed into service for those official railroad photographs,
upon orders from the ‘top brass’?

Over the years there remains the wonderful memories of
railroading, being the engineer of a fast passenger or hot-shot
freight, winding its way over the high iron that stretched the
length and breadth of the verdant Illinois countryside, the barking
stack echoing its sharp exhaust from farm buildings, gullies and
right-of-way bridges while waving at little boys and pretty gals
who always waved back. But, while to most engineers, such must
remain only in the memory of the subconscious, engineer, Leo Clark,
can leaf through his family album to re-live many of the

For instance that snapshot his fireman took of him standing on
the pilot of old No. 9, was the first engine he ever took out as
engineer on the right-hand side of the cab of a locomotive. It was
a much thinner Leo Clark that was proudly posing on the foot-step
of the ancient reciprocating No. 9 back on August 10th of 1921 a
Leo Clark we’d hardly recognize without his horn-rimmed glasses
and the usual cameras strapped to his shoulders as we’ve come
to know him in his more leisurely and lush days. But it
nevertheless is Leo Clark, engineer on his first steam locomotive
run which departed from Forrest, Illinois, and arrived back the
next day on schedule.

”That picture was taken on an old 2-A Brownie camera
which I still have, by my fireman, A. R. Parsons who now lives in
Monticello, Illinois,’ reminisces Iron Man Clark.

It was quite in contrast to the later day photo someone snapped
of Leo handling the throttle of a huge, modern 4-8-4 steam
locomotive as it was racing along the high iron at the head end of
a meat manifest, near the Peoria yards back in ’48.

‘This train arrived at Fairburg about 2:30 p.m.,’ says
Iron Man Leo ‘I was engineer of this fast Meat Run for several
years. Meat had to reach its destination on time.’ (No
sidetracks for engineer Leo Clark here.)

Then came the diesel locomotive and Leo Clark had to make the
switch like all the rest of those engineers whose first-love had
been steam (next to their wives, of course).

‘Steam was the most romantic,’ sighs engineer, Iron Man
Clark. ‘The diesels were just too automatic to be fun in

We all know the story about the conversion from steam to diesel.
There were the memories no engineer could forget. Running a steam
locomotive required art, like that of playing a fiddle. You had to
acquire skill and ‘feel’ for the throttle. And there was
the uncanny and unforgettable knack every engineer developed over
the years in handling the language of the steam whistle, by
manipulating the whistle-cord in such a manner that every trackside
worker, every gandy-dancer and shop man along the way knew it was
Leo Clark that was heading that particular train up the
right-of-way that day. Even the farmers plowing their fields,
little boys a-fishing the streams along the way they all knew it
was Leo up there in the cab, and they waved back at his particular
drawl on the long whistle toots that echoed throughout the rolling
Illinois countryside.

Yet, some engineers managed to work out their own particular art
and language on the diesel locomotive horn and still the folks knew
it was Iron Man Leo Clark blazing and growling his way along up in
the head end of that manifest or hot-shot, day after day.

Then came the last trip August 26th, 1969 and the usual
ceremonies and photos inside the cab, and standing beside the
engine, with official blessings of ‘Well done, Leo,’ coming
from Charles Pattison, President of the T. P. and W. Railroad, as
he congratulated him for his long service at the end of the final
run. Altogether it had wound up fifty-one years and two months as
fireman and engineer for Leo – forty-eight of these years on the
right-hand side of the cab as engineer and head man.

But, along with his railroad memories, there are the many happy
summertime steam threshing reunions that Leo can ponder over
whenever he leafs through his thick family photo album. And therein
will most of us among the steam threshing brethren also remember
Iron Man Leo Clark – the man with the friendly grin, the
engineer’s cap and the cameras strapped to his torso.

They say an engineer is married to his engine. May we
respectfully remind our readers that they are more often than not
also married to a woman. And Spark Plug-Engineer Leo Clark is no

It’s always a reassuring and welcome experience at a
threshermen’s reunion to have the familiar, rotund engineer
with his usual bevy of cameras a-dangling, step right out of the
big crowd and greet you for the first time. It is then that you are
suddenly aware that the Leo Clarks have arrived on the grounds. And
the usual procedure is for Leo and his Goldie, once they’ve
stepped onto the reunion grounds and locked their car, to go their
separate ways. In other words, Goldie goes ‘this-a-way’ to
do whatever she can to help out with the ladies’ reunion
projects and Leo goes ‘that-a-way’ to mingle among the
engineers and snap pictures of the engines.

Should the occasion be at The National Threshers Association in
Wauseon, Goldie immediately ensconces herself into the annual
programming of the National Thresherwomen’s afternoon teas,
organizing and decorating the parade floats and serving at the
exhibit stands, like the mainspring that drives the works of a fine
watch. If you ask her where Leo is, she’ll say, ‘Somewhere
out there,’ with a broad sweep of her arm toward the engines.
And should you be lucky enough to locate Iron Man Leo Clark,
somewhere among the engines, you’d no doubt discover him
focusing his inevitable shutter box on some human antic, such as
Mac Keller sawing watermelons on the N.T.A. sawmill, trying to
corral the ever-dwindling group of charter members into the annual
grandstand pose against a late afternoon sun, or possibly coax the
parade queen into a bit of cheesecake atop an engine deck.

It’s all just a small part that Iron Man Leo Clark and his
Goldie do to help shape the big Midwestern steam shows they always
attend. For they are the kind of folk fixtures, if you please,
around a steam engine reunion that make it what it is.

But alas, like most shutter-bugs, Leo Clark (like the rest of
us) is always hard-pressed when it comes to getting into the
picture himself.

When asked why he didn’t include Goldie in their 40th
wedding anniversary picture which shows Leo standing alone on the
observation platform of a T. P. & W. Railroad car, the
inevitable dilemma of the lonely photographer was explained thusly,
‘Well, no one else was around, so Goldie had to get out there
and take my picture.’

For once the poor and unrewarded photographer the one who never
gets in the family picture because he’s always behind the
camera got his ‘picture took’ in this, marking their
fortieth year of connubial bliss. (I know how it is, Leo either you
get out of the picture to take a ‘family portrait’ of your
Goldie or Goldie steps out of the ‘family portrait’ to take
her Leo. Sad, indeed, is the plight the hapless shutter bug and his
faithful spouse that never the twain shall meet in the same
picture! (Just you wait, Mr. Clark. I’m gonna get you ‘n
Goldie if the two of you can stay together long enough for me to
snap my shutter, come Wauseon-time.)

And even worse, when I asked Leo for a picture of him in his
engineer’s cap with cameras strapped about him, I was informed
he had none.

‘I’m always behind the camera, never in front of
it,’ he answered. Then, too, how in the world could Leo hand
Goldie the camera to take his picture and still have the camera
strapped on his shoulder? (Cameras, like photographers and their
wives, can’t be taking the picture and be in the picture,

So we’ll just settle for those rare shots when someone else
was gracious enough to snap Iron Man Leo Clark’s picture like
the one of him and his friend, Ronald Reagan, the Hollywood star
and now Governor of California, or the one posed beside a
pork-snouted engineer caricatured on a concrete wall or the
above-mentioned ‘family group’ of Leo enjoying his wedding
anniversary alone.

But we thank you, Leo Clark, for the many fine photos you’ve
taken for us to reminisce over at the various reunions, the mile
stones as they’ve passed, the ones of human interest as
they’ve transpired. For this, and for getting all those trains
in on time (with Goldie’s help cheering and feeding you), we

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