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Bob Lind, Published August 22 2011

Lind: Full speed ahead for Norberg

Stories about the late John “Jack” Norberg, who was a brakeman and conductor for the Northern Pacific Railway years ago, have drawn several responses from people who knew him.

Now Neighbors is hearing about Jack’s father.

According to railroad history buff Bill Kuebler, Apple Valley, Minn., and formerly of Fargo, his name was Arnold Norberg, but was known as Pat.

Pat was an engineer working out of Dilworth, and he had “quite a reputation,” Bill says.

“Some called him ‘wild,’ but in railroad jargon, this did not mean he was reckless; it meant that he was fast,” Bill says.

“He was also fearless. But he was a very good engineer and knew what he was doing,” he says.

Ron Fredrickson, formerly of Alice, N.D., and Fargo and now of Roseville, Calif., who worked for the NP in 1943-44, writes that Pat “was a madman at the throttle, and when I worked as a gandy dancer at West Fargo in the summer of 1944, I remember seeing him roar by, his leg propped up and sticking out of the cab window as he waved at us.

“My dad, a train dispatcher, said that Norberg, given a late train, could make up more lost time than any other engineer on the Fargo Division,” Ron said. “Was Pat obeying the rules? Only history knows for sure.”

Bill knows the truth of what Ron reported. Bill’s father, a driver for Fairway Foods, was unloading his truck at a store near a grade crossing in Mapleton, N.D., one day when he heard a loud noise, “and a Class A-4 (steam) engine and train came roaring through like there was no tomorrow. He said it must have been going all of 90 miles per hour.

“It just disappeared in big cloud of dust. But before it did, he caught a glimpse of the man at the throttle; just a glimpse.

“There in the cab was Pat Norberg, feet sticking out the window, slumped down on his seat box, cap pulled over his face, appearing as if he were asleep.

“But he wasn’t. He blew the whistle for the crossing and was fully alert. If anything, he was a coiled spring, waiting to handle anything that might crop up.”

Obviously, engineer Pat Norberg was always geared up to throttle up.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com