|"Engineer Makes Final Run After
45 Years at the Throttle"
By: David Hamilton - KL&L News Editor
|Key, Lock & Lantern members who might be considered to be the “old timers” in the organization need no introduction to locomotive engineer Devan Lawton. When KL&L made the transition from newsletter to magazine in the late 1970’s, Devan was part of the editorial team that made it happen. His photographic work is well known to railfans across the country, having appeared in Trains magazine and other publications, and he devotes much of his spare time to local railroad preservation efforts.|
|It therefore does not come as a surprise that someone with such a passion for the railroad industry would for many years decline to retire from every railfan’s "dream job" of locomotive engineer. However, after 45 years at the throttle, Devan decided that it was finally time to "pull the pin." On January 30, 2014, a career that spanned five decades and six different railroads came to an end.|
|Hiring out as a fireman for the Erie Lackawanna Railroad in Buffalo, NY during the summer of 1967, Devan Lawton’s many years of railroad service were only briefly interrupted by a short enrollment in college and a tour of duty in the Military. Despite being periodically furloughed from engine service in the early 1970’s, Devan stayed on the railroad, finding work as a shop laborer in Bison Yard and on the Erie Lackawanna track gang.
After Conrail took over the lines of the Erie Lackawanna in 1976, even more layoffs took place, as the railroad scaled back its workforce in the early 1980’s. This time, Devan went to work as an engineer on several regional and shortline railroads, including the Genesee & Wyoming, the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway, and the Tonawanda Island Railroad.
|Called back to work by Conrail in early 1988, Devan was primarily assigned to yard and local jobs around western New York, where he opted to remain when lines in this area were acquired by CSX in 1998. Most recently, he was the regular engineer on the Falls Road job out of Niagara Falls, but he bumped onto Kenmore Yard local freight Y134 for his final trip.|
|With a commemorative “last run” banner inspired by the paint scheme of Erie Lackawanna engines fastened to the front of locomotive 2620 by fellow employees, CSX train Y134 made its way up the Niagara Branch on the morning of January 30th. Perhaps not by chance, a customer on the former Erie Railroad Lockport spur required a switch, and Devan was able to make a final run over his old home rails.|
|At the end of the day, a large group of fellow railroaders gathered to celebrate Devan’s retirement, possibly in part because almost everyone moved up on the roster that day, Ha!|
|They were joined by his wife Louise (who most certainly deserves sainthood for her support and understanding of Devan’s hobby over the years), and sons Shawn and Scott, who are carrying on the family tradition as CSX engineers.|
|In retirement, Devan plans to continue his work educating the public about railroad safety as an "Operation Lifesaver" volunteer, and to begin organizing his slides and movies for possible future publication. Then there are those hundreds of banana boxes of railroadiana to sort through. The Key, Lock & Lantern editorial staff is also hoping that Devan’s future duties as a grandfather won’t prevent him from contributing an article from time to time, as well. Congratulations to Devan Lawton on completing a memorable career.|
|Joe Kocsis, president of the Western New York Railway Historical Society offered congratulations well wishes from the entire Society on Devan's "pulling the pin." Devan is a Life Member, generous patron and one of the seven Founding Trustees of the WNYRHS.|
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