Rail historian Francis Gschwind dies

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CALLAWAY, Neb. – Rail historian Francis G. Gschwind, who extensively photographed and wrote about Union Pacific in the steam era, died last month in Callaway. He was 95.

In partnership with his best friend and collaborator Jim Ehernberger, he was the co-author of such books as Colorado & Southern Northern Division; Smoke Across the Prairie: Union Pacific Nebraska Division; Smoke Along the Divide, Union Pacific Wyoming Division; Smoke Along the Columbia, Union Pacific Oregon Division; Sherman Hill; and two others.

His favorite line was UP’s 102-mile branch from Kearney to Stapleton. He spent his life photographing the branch, getting to know the people who worked on the railroad and photographing them at work. The result was the book Kearney & Black Hills Branch Line: A Historic Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad published in 1990 by South Platte Press.

Born January 10, 1924, Gschwind never married, but had four brothers and twelve nieces and nephews. A long-time member of the Great Plains Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, members Jim Hanna and Jim Reisdorff visited him in September and recalled he could still recite the history of the Kearney Branch and his favorite locomotive, UP 2-8-0 No. 105. They were also able to show him photos of restored Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014, which thrilled him.

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