Along the Santa Fe
A Station Agent's Story - 1907 to 1943
A book by C.E. Titchenal and family - Book SynopsisAlong the Santa Fe is a book by C.E. Titchenal sharing his railroading tales about being a Santa Fe Railway Station Agent in the early 20th century.
From an early age C.E. Titchenal dreamt of being a railroad man. As a boy he was fascinated by the circus trains that steamed into his hometown of Santa Ana California each year. So, at 16 it was no surprise that he quit school to attend the local Telegraph Institute to learn the language of the rails. By 17 he had become so proficient at his telegraph skills he was hired by the Santa Fe Railway as a student operator. Thus began C.E.'s 36 year “long service” career with the AT&SF that took him and his family to fourteen different duty stations in California and Arizona from 1907 to 1943.
C.E. wrote about his experiences "Along the Santa Fe" when the effects of a hereditary degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) gradually took his eye sight and rendered him legally blind. He was forced to take early disability retirement at age 55 due to his failing eyesight. This debilitating illness was one of many difficulties and tragedies that C.E. and his family had to determinedly overcome as a lifelong Santa Fe Railway family.
C.E. writes fondly of his early career as a young man working busy stations in California's growing cities of Santa Ana, Fullerton, Oceanside and Rialto. These assignments allowed him to quickly master new job skills. His superior telegraph skills and work ethic got him noticed by his supervisors and constantly promoted. By 25 he was operating his own depot as the sole Agent at the Etiwanda California Station. Transferring back to Fullerton as a Clerk/Operator he supplemented his pay by transcribing breaking telegraph news stories for the evening newspaper as an agent of the newly formed "United Press News Service".
Everything changed in 1917 when he agreed to take a telegram job offer sight unseen from the Superintendent of the Santa Fe, Prescott & Phoenix Railway for double his salary. The offer was to oversee the station in the remote Arizona mining town of Crown King. Arizona had just become a state six years earlier and was one of America's last "wild west" frontiers. C.E. writes of the initial excitement of frontier living that quickly becomes a tragedy when he learns that Arizona is part of the Santa Fe"s Albuquerque Division and transferring back to California will be nearly impossible.
For the next 21 years C.E. writes of his experiences operating isolated and often dismal "railroad town" stations in Hot Springs Junction, Parker, Mayer and Drake Arizona. The challenges and occasional joys of raising a family and living on the Santa Fe Railway frontiers are shared. In the end, C.E. realizes he is lucky as the remoteness of his Arizona jobs allow him to continue to work even as his eyesight gradually diminishes. This is the story of C.E. Titchenal's "Along the Santa Fe".
C.E.'s book is scheduled to be published by the Santa Fe Railway Historical Society in 2025.
Read C.E. Titchenal's book "Along the Santa Fe"