COBWEB CORNERS: Tribute to Ol’ Byron
By Mel McFarland
This is not an “Old Times” story, for a change, but a tribute to a co-worker. He was an interesting fellow, not one you might pick out in a crowd. He rather liked it that way. He was a railroader, and the son of a railroader. As it was, Byron Henderson became an important man at the Cog Railway.
I first met him not long after he started. I was there when he and a couple of other men jumped in to solve a problem during one of the first times steamer number 4 went up to Minnehaha after it returned to Manitou. It had been in a museum in Golden. Over the years he learned as much about how the equipment worked as anyone can. He worked as an engineer, but he was the best in the shop. He knew the mechanics of all the trains, not just the passenger trains. He knew the operation of even the most antique machines in the shop. Some of the equipment was built before his father was born. Most of that equipment is now long gone, partially under his leadership. His skill with the snow plow will be legendary.
Most of what made him interesting was his quiet demeanor. He had a dry but sharp sense of humor. He might not break out in a laugh or even a smile, but once you knew him, it was in his eyes. If he did laugh, look out!
Over the years he had become a teacher, something he was not completely comfortable with, but he was a good one. He would wait for his students to show their interest in learning the job before he would get them involved. His observations might be calmly taken, even in the most exhilarating time for the student. Good, or bad, he generally remained calm, although if need be, he might add a comment or two filled with expletives appropriate for the situation.
He battled many a tough snow drift, but the battle he lost was slowly creeping up on him. We scattered his ashes up where he liked it, on Pikes Peak. I still expect his spirit will be walking through the shop, checking on the progress as a set of cog wheels get changed, or as odd parts need to be built for this or that. Someone will take his place, but no one will be another 'Ol Byron.