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Don's Rail Photos

A Tribute to Charlie Ward

After doing the pages on the Korean narrow gauge fantrips, I heard from Bob Townley for the first time in 45 years or so by email. You may remember he was the Air Force fellow who went with us on our first trip, along with Charley Ward. Bob and Charley knew each other before our service time. I asked Bob about Charley, just as I had done by email with various West Coast fans. It seems that Charley went to South America in the 1980s, where he developed some rare disease and passed away. I consider myself very fortunate for having known him for the short time we served together in that far off land.

This is a tribute to Charlie because of his contribution to the Korean railroad scene. He had a very definite impact on a change in attitude by Korean railroaders almost a half century ago.

We need to look back into history. In 1903, the Japanese took over the Korean peninsula and made it a Japanese territory. They changed the name from Korea to Chosen, and required that the people become 2nd class Japanese citizens. The Korean language was suppressed. It was a tribute to the Korean people, that they immediately returned to their own language when they were freed in 1945. The attitude of the Koreans towards their Japanese masters was one of total hatred. You can get a feel of this if you read the postlude to the narrow gauge stories. Even at this late date, the writer expressed the feelings of the Koreans today, over 50 years after their freedom. If it was Japanese, it was bad. A story was told about a Japanese forest which was destroyed by fire even though the Koreans were short of fuel. In regard to the railroads, the evidence could be seen in the locomotives. Japanese engines are shiny. Their trains run on time. The Korean locomotives were painted with dull black paint using burlap bags for application. The trains always ran late. The war also helped to enhance this situation. Headlights were removed due to a belief that the spirits of those people they ran over could not haunt them afterwards. To illustrate the condition of most Korean locomotives, I offer this picture of a double header with one of the 4-8-2s. Notice the lack of a headlight and the downright bad appearance of the engine.

I arrived in Korea in February, 1953, and quickly got to meet Charlie Ward. He was the American "adviser" at Yongsan Engine House. This was the main engine terminal for Seoul and was located just past the southwest edge of the city and just before the crossing of the Han River. It was across the river from the end of the runway at Kimpo Airport. The U. S. Army was in control of the railroads and supervised the Koreans who were the railroad personnel. We got our best results when we respected the position of the Korean supervisors and worked with them. There were a few young GIs who tried to push their luck, but they got no respect and little cooperation from the Koreans. Charlie was extremely knowledgeable in steam locomotives and in diplomacy. This is the reason I feel he deserves credit for a major change in attitude on the part of the Korean railroaders.

Charlie had found a Mikado built by Baldwin in 1919 and adopted it as his pet. In the yard of the railroad school, he found a locomotive bell which had been hit by a 50 cal. bullet. This left a hole and a crack from the hole to the edge. When I arrived, Charlie was in the process of trying to repair the bell. It took several welding efforts to make the bell ring like a bell should ring. The first effort resulted in a clunk. While working on Mike 10, Charlie had found the original bell mounting bracket still on the top of the boiler. Finally the bell went back to its proper location. Meanwhile, Charlie and his Koreans built up a pilot using bar stock and carbide welding. This was the way it was done a half century earlier. Finally it was time to paint the locomotive. Where would you get high gloss black paint? Charlie found that olive drab paint would separate into a dull green and a high gloss black. By pouring off the green, each gallon gave us about a half gallon of black. Charlie was able to get good brushes to apply the paint. The white enamel came from the Air Force where it was used for emblems on planes. Recently one of his friends sent a couple of photos. Mike 10 is shown before the bell was installed. The second picture was taken from the cab as it approached the prisoner exchange point. I was standing right behind Charlie when he took the picture. The third is the Freedeom Bridge itself.  We got a Meritorious Unit Citation for this action.  I found a recent picture of the bridge.

The final result was given a special sign on the front smokebox step. Since Charlie came from the San Francisco Bay area, he had a sign painted to proclaim that the locomotive was the "Mt. Tamalpias". It was misspelled, but effective. The pride of the Korean staff was only exceeded by Charlie's. Later Mike 10 played a major part in the prisoner exchange after the cease fire in July. The picture was taken after Charlie had gone home. It shows some road grime since it was not at the home terminal.

One of the first engine houses to pick up on Charlie's lead was Chechon. I wish I had shot this in color. This locomotive was also a class 1 Mikado, but it was somewhat heavier than the 10 spot. The handrails are candy striped in yellow and green. The pilot beam is also yellow. It was colorful!

After I had moved to Yongsan, my old Chyongyangni gang got into the act with several locomotives. Since this was one of the facilities under U. S. guidance, they added the 712th name to the tender. Here is a nice little Class 5 ten-wheeler with white stripping.

They also did this Class 3 Mikado. The tender includes lettering for the Southern Pacific, and they got a number into the headlight number boxes.

Inchon got into the act with several engines including this Class 6 Ten Wheeler.

Even regular power was no longer made to look bad. While this locomotive shows road dirt, you can see the glossy paint. Engine crews would wipe down their locomotives with diesel fuel to make it look shiny. The problem with this was the amount of dust that would be captured by the oil film which remained. This PC4 also has a contoured tender from the days when it was on first class trains.

I would like to end this report with my own contribution. When Charlie rotated back to home, I was working as night foreman at Chyongyangni. Later I was moved to Yongsan and took over Charlie's old job. I selected one of the large PC5s and making it a semi-streamlined locomotive. We welded a pipe framework on the running boards and then covered that with sheet steel. We built up a pilot using cross bars. The Koreans saw a black and white picture of a SP GS4 which had a striped solid pilot. They thought it was a pilot similar to the Pennsy style. So we went with horizontal bars. The Air Force came by with a large tank which their medics had used for some type of culture growth. They wanted it steam cleaned to use for showers. I traded the steam for red and white enamel. This was the second paint. The first was some that the Koreans brought in. Unfortunately it was water soluble. When Pasee Oh Oh (PC5-5) came in, it was gray from the middle down. The photo was taken in front of the Yongsan engine house which was a run thru design with a large arched roof. Only half of the building still had a roof. The other half was mostly open air.


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