Return to Gerald M. Best Senior Achievement Awards

Jim Scribbins

Jim Scribbins, holding certificate, with Rob McGonigal, Kevin Keefe, and Mark Entrop

Because of Jim Scribbins’ significant and long-standing contribution to the writing, preservation, and interpretation of North American railroad history, the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society has presented him with its Gerald M. Best senior achievement award.

Mark Entrop, chair of the R&LHS awards committee, gave the award to Scribbins Saturday, January 18, 2014, in West Bend, Wisconsin, with his wife, Barbara, Kevin Keefe and Rob McGonigal of Kalmbach Publishing Co., and John Gruber in attendance.

Scribbins comes from a railroad family. His father and three uncles were railroaders. He worked for the Milwaukee Road from 1948 to 1985, including service as passenger agent, freight clerk, and public relations assistant. His best seven years were in Chicago in the public relations office, where he traveled from one end of the railroad to the other, from Louisville on the east to Seattle-Tacoma on the west. These experiences enhanced his abilities to preserve railroad history. Sometimes he used them in articles, such as in “Front Row on the Future, the streamliner revolution, viewed from Milwaukee Road’s station in Milwaukee” in Dream Trains (2003).

As a teenager, even before graduating from high school in 1946, he started in photography. Influenced by the early picture books of Lucius Beebe, he become more adventuresome. He replaced his box camera with an Eastman Vigilant 616, a graduation gift from his parents. He used it for nearly a decade, showing passenger trains around Milwaukee and in the Midwest, specializing in the Milwaukee Road, C&NW, and Soo Line. Cameras changed and Scribbins made his last black and white picture of a Milwaukee Road freight train at 13th Street in Milwaukee on December 31, 1985, the last day of operations before the Soo Line took over the railroad.

Scribbins’ books include The Hiawatha Story (1970), The 400 Story (1982), Milwaukee Road Remembered: A Fresh Look At An Unusual Railroad (1990), Milwaukee Road in its Hometown: In and Around The City of Milwaukee (1998), and The Milwaukee Road, 1928-1985 (2001). The Trains magazine index credits him with 26 articles.

Scribbins, with a lifetime record of achievements in railroad history, richly deserves this recognition.

The citation appeared in Railroad History 211, Fall-Winter 2014.