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 Post subject: Norman Holmes passes
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2024 9:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 440
Location: Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
Former Western Pacific and Union Pacific engineer Norm Holmes passed away last November. He was born in 1927 and started out on the W.P. out of San Jose, CA and fired smaller power like 0-6-0s and 2-8-0s.

Realizing that the railroad was soon to be all diesel, he moved to Portola and was able to bid a few trips on the huge 2-8-8-2 251 class mallets.

Norm also made trips on the California Zephyr and was promoted to engineer in 1959.

Norm is the person most responsible for the Portola Museum existing. He went to the UP and got them to donate one of the former WP F units to the fledging museum. He was just as much at home emptying trash cans at the museum as he was at instructing others at safe railroad practices.

Not as well known, but Norm was an early proponent of private motorcar operation and he helped a number of us with that venture. The museum at Portola sponsored yearly motorcar races that had a lot of influence from Norm. The late Gen. Chuck Yeager was a visitor at one of these events.

Norm purchased a 35 ton mechanical diesel from an outfit in Southern Oregon. He only had a few feet of rail down at his home, but it included a switch and a bit of a grade. He graciously offered for me to run it one summer day while he gave signals.

Norm was a good friend to all who knew him. He offered me a ride West one afternoon to Oroville on a hot train and explained everything of interest that we did that day. He was a generous sort, both with his time and possessions. He and Barbara are both missed.


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 Post subject: Re: Norman Holmes passes
PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2024 9:26 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:47 pm
Posts: 18
Norman was a significant presence in the railroad community. Not only was he keystone of the museum in Portola, he was also an author and one of the foremost authorities on the Western Pacific. When he lived in the Bay Area he was actively involved with the Central Coast Railway Club and operated a charter bus company called Mayfair. The club would use his busses for tours.

In the last years of his life he had to relocate from Portola to Carson City for health reasons and would regularly visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum. He was losing his eyesight and was accompanied by a caretaker. He lived close enough to hear the whistles when steam was running and never lost his enthusiasm for railroading. He was a very pleasant and knowledgeable person who made many contributions to the preservation of railroad history.


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