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Harry Alderson Wood - Retired Railroad Man


Mike Olson


Great changes have occurred in the railroad companies ofAmerica in the past few years. There have been many mergers that incorporatedmany of the older railroad companies into one large company, more freighttrains and less passenger trains. Harry Wood may not be able to tell youany more about these recent happenings than other people but with 43 yearsof service with the Northern Pacific Railroad he can tell you much aboutthe railroads of the past.

Harry was born in l893 at Forest River, North Dakota. Hisparents were John and Eina Wood. Harry's father, John, was employed as acarpenter. His pay was 60 cents an hour. This was very hard for the familyto live on. Harry had one brother and one sister.

He began school at Forest River in l899. He did many thingsin school as well as working after school. His two favorite sports werebasketball and baseball. He also skated in the winter. Harry had many afterschool jobs. He worked at the local elevator. His job was to keep the. horsesmoving that turned the leg of the elevator. He also pulled mustard in thegrain fields for local farmers. During harvest Harry had a different job.He would haul piles of straw away from the thrashing machine with a teamof horses. His pay for these jobs ranged from 25 to 75 cents an hour. Hisrailroad career also began while he was in high school. He began workingat the Northern Pacific station at Forest River in 1911.

While Harry was working on the railroad at Forest River,he learned the telegraphers code. In 1913, he was transferred to the NorthernPacific station in Voss, North Dakota. He only stayed here for two weeksand then transferred to Joliette where he spent 15 years of his railroadinglife as an operator.

During the fifteen years that Harry spent at Joliette hedid many things. He trained six other men telegraphy. Many of these mendid not work for the railroad, but did get jobs with other companies thatneeded telegraphers.

In 1914, Harry married Ernestine Larose of Joliette Theyhad three children, two boys and a girl. Mr. and Mrs. Wood were marriedfor 56 years until his wife passed away in December 1970.

The Wood family moved to Pembina in 1927. Here he concludedhis railroad career. In the 30's Harry took an exam for the United StatesCustoms. He worked for the Customs for about a year and then went back tothe railroading business as agent in Pembina. He also started a small Custom-Brokerbusiness at the depot.

Service to his community and school district also kepthim busy. In 1929, he was elected treasurer of School District No. 1. Heheld this office for two years and then ran for school board member of theschool in Pembina. He was reelected many times and served on the board from1931 - 1953. Harry also served on the City Council of Pembina. He held thejob of auditor from 1932-1947.

In 1958, he took his railroad pension He still hadhis brokerage business which he moved into the basement of his son's houseafter his retirement. He then persuaded his son to take the exam to geta brokers license. His son now has a very large business and is constantlyexpanding.

Now, at the age of seventy-nine, Harry is still very active.He spends a lot of his time at the brokerage office doing various odd jobs.He enjoys this kind of work and also finds it very helpful in passing time.Harry also has an aquarium with many different kinds of fish. He finds theseto be very amusing and he enjoys studying and buying various other species.Hunting is also one of Harry's favorite past times although the huntingis not as good as it used to be when he was young.

Harry's life was one of many accomplishments. Forty-eightyears of railroading service, and many years of service with his brokeragebusiness as well as the many years of service to his community.


Harry Wood. Interview. January 8, 1972


Harry Wood. Interview. January 8, 1972