In celebration of NCTA’s 50th Anniversary this year, On Track  is launching a new feature entitled “Recollections.”  NCTA supporters past and present are invited to share their cherished memories from NCTA’s first 50 years for publication in On Track and NCTA Website throughout the celebration year. Recollections will also be compiled for sharing at a “class reunion” to be held at NCTA’s Fall Meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

1987 Annual Meeting

Here’s an account from NCTA’s 1987 Annual Meeting, which: “kicked off with a star-studded panel of Railroaders:  Darius Gaskins, Jr., President & CEO, Burlington Northern RR, William Holtman, Chairman and President, Denver & Rio Grande Western RR, Denman McNear, Chairman, President & CEO, Southern Pacific Transportation Co., Michael Walsh, Chairman, Union Pacific RR, and James Wolfe, Chairman, President & CEO, CNW Corp. That is quite an honor to get that many railroad executives all in one room. The panel was moderated by Joseph Dewey, Director of Transportation with Kerr McGee. You can imagine leading a panel of five powerful leaders might be a little stressful, but on top of that deciding the speaking order. Mr. DeWey wanted to be fair to all the distinguished guests so he did what any good moderator would do. He made himself a cup of tea in his Union Pacific mug and put all the names in his CSX coffee mug and drew names!”

Flash from the 2006 Past

“Emerging Troubles in the Coal Transportation Supply Chain” was the title of a 2006 NCTA magazine article that surveyed utilities on the capacity to serve some 140 coal plants that were then proposed for construction. “Some of the results are encouraging as selected utilities are taking action to meet their future coal handling needs,” the survey summary stated. “These utilities are upgrading facilities, purchasing equipment, improving cycle times, and leveraging performance measures to monitor performance. However, many results are troubling. Utilities report car shortages, outdated equipment and facilities, maintenance problems, slow process times, and limited use of performance measures. Utilities also indicate little focus on addressing those issues, shortages of capital to address them, and little teamwork with supply chain participants to address problems together.”

2006 Tuscan Arizona Conference

“Reporting on NCTA’s Spring Conference in 2006, the editor of Coal Transporter magazine noted that “the wine was fine” in Napa Valley, but pleaded for “some common sense on energy issues within the state legislature of California.” Plus: “Who in the world scheduled the O&M Conference in Tucson in June? The old thermometer hit 105⁰! That was convenient for the chefs at the cookout; they just threw the steaks on a section of the sidewalk and listened to them sizzle.”

Do you have recollections to share about NCTA’s history during this – the organization’s 50th anniversary year? Examples include personal anecdotes from NCTA events, tributes to memorable people, observations on major issues addressed by NCTA, and more. Vintage photos are also welcome. Submit your recollections by emailing NCTA Executive Director John Ward at