MADISONVILLE'S BILLY BYRD IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC


| March/April 1978



369 South Harrig Street, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431. Taken from the Madisonuille, Kentucky Messenger.

Madisonville's Billy Byrd has made the news again. He was interviewed by Charlton Ogburn of the National Geographic Society, along with dozens of other railroaders, and part of the interview appears in a book called 'Railroads The Great American Adventure' published recently by the National Geographic Society.

Byrd was a part of a Bicentennial Festival of Folklife display of the Association of American Railroads in Washington last year. He was interviewed by Ogburn while there. During the exhibit, Byrd explained railroading to hundreds of people who came through the trains set up near the Washington Monument in the capital city.

In discussing the switch from steam to diesel power, Louisville and Nashville Railroad Engineer Byrd is quoted as saying 'There were tears in my eyes. I began railroading on steam and it nearly killed me when the railroads were dieselized. The author describes Byrd as a 'sturdy coal train engineer.'

'The steam locomotive was the most human machine ever designed,' Byrd said. 'She had a soul and there was a bond between her and the engineer. In the cab on a moonlight night, seeing the light flashing, the flames dancing in the firebox, looking back at the smoke trailing over the train, the steam gauge steady at 200 pounds, and hearing that old girl talking in the language only she and you understood, there was nothing like it in the world.'

The railroad display on the Washington Mall included a diesel locomotive with two cars and operating personnel. Four engineers were selected to participate in the Festival display. Byrd was the only one from Kentucky.