Story and photo by Sam Campbell
Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Nov. 21, 2018) — Since July 5, 1988, Toby Hendrix has operated the locomotives here on Fort Leonard Wood. With his vintage engineer cap and a smile in tow, he arrives at 5:30 a.m., ready to work before the sun has risen. Depending on the day, he prepares rail movements or carries troops at the Transportation Motor Pool.
As part of his job, Hendrix hauls military equipment, World War II replicas, museum exhibits, and even tanks for the post. But most of his time is spent on the 3,000 horsepower GP-40 engine, whistling along the open 19-mile stretch of government rail between the fort and Bundy Junction.
Having been a police officer in Branson, Missouri, and a semi-truck driver in Point Lookout, Missouri, Hendrix is able to objectively appreciate what it is that makes his current position so unique. “We have mountain grade territory to operate on,” he said. “The train is more challenging because of that, but I like here.”
“We have more scenery here,” he added. “Other places that I’ve been to haven’t had the rolling hills — this is more picturesque.”
On that scenic length of rail, Hendrix has had ample time to observe the surrounding wildlife. In fact, having the privilege to witness the wild fauna, away from human disturbances, he said, is one of the most refreshing parts of his job. “I like watching the deer, the turkey, and I’ve seen bobcats up and down the tracks,” Hendrix said.
“We get to see a different type of terrain because we’re going behind peoples’ houses, through the backfields, by the barns and in the woods. It’s what you don’t get to see if you’re in the car,” he continued.