ENNIS – Close to 50 retired and former employees of Southern Pacific Railroad and their relatives gathered for their annual “End of the Line Reunion” on Saturday afternoon in the Baylor Baptist fellowship hall.

With the merger with Union Pacific in 1996, the Southern Pacific name disappeared; however, the group of employees, which spanned from California to Louisiana, banded together to remember the line’s heritage.

“In past years, the reunions were larger, but many of the ol’ timers have passed on,” Eddie Luksa said.

Jack Titsworth drove down from Nebraska along with another member for Iowa. 

“I would have taken the train if there had been one available,” said Titsworth, who grew up in Ennis.

Looking for a way to pay his way through school, he followed his father’s footsteps into the railroad.

“After I finished school, they were a paying job with a retirement so I stayed around,” he said, saying he stayed on after the merger and retired several years later.

“It was long hours that were sometimes tiring, but it was a steady job,” Titsworth said, saying he worked himself up to dispatcher for the line and the lines he worked for afterwards.

Many of the others shared stories of their time with the railroad with some bringing old newspaper clippings to the reunion.

One of the other memorabilia items on display was a photo taken in 1952 of the U.S. Army Railroad Battalion. One of the people in the photograph, which was taken at Fort Hood, was Billy Denbow, then a policeman for the railroad.

The Railroad Battalion was sponsored by Southern Pacific and manned by Southern Pacific people, Denbow said, saying the battalion was responsible for maintaining and operating the railroad in Germany to transport troops and supplies during World War Two. 

Another guest was Dane Williams, who retired from the railroad after 40 years, and now he serves as director of the railroad museum in Ennis.

“Being in the railroad business has been a family tradition,” he said. “My grandfather was a conductor. I am the third generation to work on the railroad and my son is the fourth generation.”

After a catered meal by Bubba’s Bar-be-que, Jerry Moody gave a presentation on the group’s interest on railroading.