The "Station Master's Office"


Greetings to you from the original Eric H. Bowen of Houston, Texas. I was born in southern Illinois across the river from St. Louis but my family moved here when I was three years old—so while I'm not a native Texan I got here as quick as I could! I am a stationary engineer by trade, operating central heating and air conditioning plants in commercial buildings; a veteran of service aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) on her around-the-world recommissioning shakedown cruise in late 1986 and subsequent deployment to the Persian Gulf during Operation Earnest Will in 1987; and a lifetime railfan ever since a formative experience in the cab of a Missouri Pacific switch engine at the age of two.

I saved virtually every Amtrak and airline timetable I could get my hands on during my teenage years, but I never realized that there was a publication like the Official Guide until I found and read—practically memorized—an Amtrak-era Guide after joining the Michigan State University Railroad Club (of Project 1225 fame) in the early 1980s. It wasn't until relatively recently, though, that I ever realized what a treasure trove of information the streamliner-era Official Guides contained. It started in early 2006 when I saw a listing on eBay for three Official Guides from the 1960s, one the 100th anniversary issue from June of 1968. The current bid was $5; I bid $15 and won the lot. When I looked through them for the first time and saw what a wealth of information was represented there my first thought was, "This has GOT to be put on line!" The web site you are looking at now is the result.

Personal Life:

Single, never married...still waiting for the right girl. Household currently consists of myself, two dogs and two cats. My sister makes up for me, though...married 23 years with 8 kids and a new granddaughter, every one of them home-schooled. I graduated high school here in Houston, Texas; spent one year at Michigan State University, then entered the United States Navy...boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, arriving on December 27th...brrrr! I enlisted for the nuclear program and indeed cut quite a swath at Nuclear Power School in Orlando, graduating 6th in a class of 451 while also rebuilding the engine in my decrepit Plymouth Fury. I decided to try making a swing at officer school and was accepted to the Naval Academy, but washed out after one grades were fine but I got crosswise of the upperclassmen. Having been out of the nuke program too long, I was sent out to the fleet as a conventional MM2 and won a prize assignment...the recommissioned battleship USS Missouri. I was aboard her for three years and left the service as a first class petty officer (MM1; E-6)

After the Navy I found an opening in the Merchant Marine sailing on oil tankers for Coastal Tankships USA for a couple of years, earning a Third Assistant Engineer-Steam, Unlimited license. However, employment in the U. S. Merchant Marine was and is dicey, and I found shoreside employment as a stationary engineer in commercial facilities. I did try my hand as an air conditioning technician and as an over-the-road truck driver for a short time, but always ended up back in commercial facilities engineering. Currently I'm employed in a major oil company's research facility in west Houston.

Have I ever worked on or for a railroad: Well, in high school I worked as a conductor aboard the "610 Limited" in the summer of 1980 at the former Astroworld amusement park in Houston, Texas. I spent a year at Michigan State University volunteering on the aforementioned "Project 1225" when I should have been studying. And my grandfather was a conductor on the Missouri Pacific years before I was born. Other than that, no. I have been a "foamer" all of my life...hanging around the Minden yards while visiting my paternal grandmother in the 1970s; poking all around and through the old Houston Union Station in the early 1980s before anyone ever got serious about "access control"; driving down to Galveston to explore the old lift bridge and chat for long hours with the operator...but I have never been On The Inside.

Contact Me: I am always ready to accept feedback and corrections, both bouquets and brickbats, at my public email address: Yes, I get a lot of spam, but I have this wonderful invention known as a "DELETE" key. I can be slow about responding, given the other things going on In Real Life, so if a few days pass without a reply feel free to write back again.

You should also be aware, if you do not regularly follow the news, that email by default is not secure. It's like a postcard; any postal worker (or intermediate internet router) which handles it can read it. If this bothers you (and it does me), I suggest that you take steps to secure your emails. First, I recommend that you download GNU Privacy Guard for your operating system. Second, download and install Mozilla Thunderbird as your email client, and then install the Enigmail plug-in. (By the way, I also recommend the Lightning extension for Thunderbird as a fine calendar app.) All of these programs are open-source and free, but do remember the hard-working developers and make a small contribution. Follow the setup instructions on the Enigmail home page, and in no time you should be able to send completely private messages to anyone whose public key you know or can find on a key server.

Here's mine.
Key Fingerprint: 6731 143C 1735 B2CC A462 29FC 382E 2F42 8DE5 E2F1
MD5: EDFD1424B1A1248F20F13BC65680815C
All comments, original material and page design copyright 2006-2015 by Eric H. Bowen. Page modified 2016-06-16.