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Dad: Inspirational Photography by James EuDaly

By Kevin Eudaly/photos by James F. EuDaly

From time to time, my writing inevitably turns to family, which is a direct reflection of something that is very important to most of us. Fathers and sons often share interests, and there is usually an activity that a son grows up with and eventually becomes interested in due to his father’s influence.

Dad, as readers of this column may recall, is a railroad fan and modeler, with an O-scale Chesapeake & Ohio empire that has to be seen to be believed (although you might throw a peek into this month’s issue Model railroad craftsman). In addition to all things railroading, Dad was a mentor and confidant who saw me through good times and hard times, and in many ways influenced who I am today. There have been a number of father-son rails fan teams – the late J. David Ingles and his father come to mind, as does Allen McClelland, famous model from Virginia and Ohio, and his son Brad (and son of Brad Brady) – and From my perspective, there are few things in life as dear as this father-son bond over a common interest.

On December 28 of last year, John Madden, the famed Oakland Raiders coach and sports commentator, died. Shortly before, a documentary film was made on his life with the contribution of many sports personalities who were touched by him. He got to watch this before his last trip through the end zone in Glory. I’ve always felt like a eulogy was too late – we’re best served by expressing what someone means to us while they’re still there to hear it, and John got to hear what everyone thought before leaving this earth. It was obviously special for him. So this one’s for dad – maybe with a slightly biased railway influence from a more than slightly biased son.

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Dad was born in Seymour, Ind., on December 23, 1932. He is named after his maternal grandfather, James Callahan, who was a machinist for Baltimore & Ohio in North Vernon, Ind. up close and personal, and his interest in the railroad was born. For dad’s grandfather, steam was a passion, and his every job was steam-related – his first job was to run a steam thresher and his second was to run a steam saw in a sawmill. It wasn’t exactly accidental, however. In a 1979 newspaper interview with James Callahan, the passion for the railroad is evident:

ABOVE: For a decade, Bedford, Ind., was home, and Bedford meant the Monon. Never really a list shooter, dad focused on the action, and in this Train 5 view, the southbound Of race behind F3A 84A, meets northbound train 40, local freight behind RS-2s 29 and 24. Meets at Harrodsburg, located midway between Bedford and Bloomington. The date is April 20, 1960, two days after I was born. So while Mom is in the hospital with me and my brothers are in the care of Grandma EuDaly in Bloomington, Dad is at the trackside enjoying Monon on a fabulous spring day. This photo absolves me of any act of reckless irresponsibility when it comes to railfanning – I’m honestly coming from that!

“Although he spoke at length about his first two jobs, he never talked enough about the railroad and the ‘fever’ and his 41 years at B&O as a machinist and engine inspector. What is “fever”? No, not scarlet or yellow, but railroad fever. It’s a “disease” that even Callahan couldn’t explain. “It’s just something you go through,” he said.

So Dad’s interest in the steam age in many ways was inherited, and it never waned, which has been the case with the railroad in general for Dad ever since. We still talk regularly after just about every ride I’ve been on trackside – that rail connection between us is tangible.

After a few false starts in his model railroad journey—Cincinnati Union Terminal in HO scale was an early plan—he finally settled on Chesapeake & Ohio, primarily due to the wide variety and appealing nature of his steam power . He chose the O scale because he likes to build things and the larger scale lends itself to scratch building and heavy kitbashing. After all, who can blame someone for ending up with five Allegheny Class 2-6-6-6 locomotives hauling a ton of coal up the Allegheny slope? After choosing C&O, he made a succession of trips “out East” to photograph the railroad he planned to model, and this succession has continued ever since.

James Eudaly

ABOVE: Besides local Monon and B&O action in southern Indiana, Dad occasionally ventured to the side of the trail away from home. Although Chesapeake & Ohio dominates, this view of Louisville & Nashville Train 99 crossing the Ohio River Bridge from Cincinnati to Covington, Ky., on September 16, 1959, is typical of his eye for capturing expansive scenes. A crew member gives a friendly wave from the cabin of E7A 758.

As a youngster, his family ended up in Bloomington, Indiana, where he met Mom at church, and the stuff of storybook love brought them together forever. Family photos reveal dad was modeling when a camera arrived in 1954, and was building O scale locomotives and freight cars before he even saw a scale piece of track O – one of the first projects was a Hudson built from scratch. kitchen table before having an official workshop. When I was a little kid in the early 1960s, Dad had his workbench in my bedroom, and I have fond memories of falling asleep as Dad hunched over the workbench building models.

Sons began arriving in 1955 – four over a period of nine years. Older brother Jay was born in Bloomington, but we other boys were all born in Bedford, where dad’s optometry practice was established. Among the first railroad images taken by Dad are a significant number of Monon slides, as well as other railroads in southern Indiana, including B&O, Illinois Central, and The Milwaukee Road. Although The Milwaukee Road had a spur to Bedford, Monon was the dominant route, and Dad ran a good portion of Monon’s slides between 1954 and the route’s merger with Louisville and Nashville in 1971…