Garl Boyd Latham is a career Railroader, with almost 40 years of professional experience in both freight and passenger operations.Garl is the owner of Latham Railway Services, a Texas-based planning and consulting firm. Recent work has included the design of intermodal freight terminals, the evaluation and testing of Maintenance-of-Way construction materials, and a comprehensive study of potential intercity passenger train routes throughout Texas and the southwestern United States.Among notable past projects were feasibility and engineering studies for the proposed Dallas, Southeastern and Gulf Railway, and the Texas Boxcar Company (TexBox), as well as the design and development of various model and toy trains.His background includes 10 years with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) and 5 years at Dallas Area Rapid Transit, where he received the "Golden Star" - DART's highest-level employee award.Garl has served on the boards of many professional and advocacy organizations, such as the National Association of Railroad Passengers, the Southwest Railroad Historical Society and MobilityDallas. In the course of his career, he has made numerous radio, television and personal appearances throughout North America. Garl is currently Vice President of the Texas Association of Railroad Passengers.
A respected railroad historian, Garl has written many articles on Post-World War II-era passenger train services, while assisting countless others in their quest for accurate and entertaining information regarding railroading's colourful past. He is considered one of the foremost authorities on classic Santa Fe Railway passenger operations - especially their famed flagship train, the Super Chief.
To date, he has traveled over 350,000 miles by train.
A native of Dallas and a fifth-generation Texan, Garl currently resides near San Antonio (Bexar County) with his wife Michele and their daughters Gracie and Phoebe.
Your kind indulgence is requested as I reminisce.
I don't pretend to know all the reasons for this sudden desire. Perhaps it's the fact that my mother died less than three weeks ago. My family and I just buried our favourite uncle, too. Often, major events compel us to recall life stories.
I do know that time is fleeting and the temporal things we hold dear will fade away. In the process, our remembrances become increasingly priceless.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the train trip against which all other journeys are invariably compared.
On Monday, the 5th day of April, 1971, my father and I departed Chicago's Dearborn Station via Santa Fe's Super Chief en route to Los Angeles.
The service died (under Amtrak auspices) in 1974; my dad in '86 (25 years ago this June).
You know, I wish I could tell him just one more time how much he meant to me. I'm eternally grateful I did tell him, back when I had the chance.
Boyd Harris Latham was quite successful in business and a very busy man. He also didn't like trains very much! To be painfully honest, he considered the entire railroad industry anachronistic - a feeling which served to undermine my career from the outset.
Still, my father unselfishly gave me, just the two of us, three full days of his time leading into the busiest season of his year. The trip (including air fare: a 707 from Dallas' Love Field to Chicago and a brand new 747 back home from L.A.) was no great financial hardship; rather, it was his willingness to freely offer a part of himself that helped make the event everything it was...and has helped keep the memories of that occasion so precious. As long as the Lord gives me breath and a mind that functions, I'll remember.
Garl Boyd Latham
Happy Father's Day!
This evening, as one thought segued to the next, I recalled something profound my Dad once said.
As I've already noted, he was never a supporter of our industry, nor could he ever truly relate to my interest in it.
Shortly after a dinner held in honour of my 18th birthday, my father gave me a hug and told me, in front of several witnesses, that he "had always figured I'd eventually outgrow" my enthusiasm for railroading; but, if he had to make the choice, he'd "rather have me like trains than be a heroin addict or run around with loose women."
I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or throw up!
He was one of a kind. I miss him terribly.