The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (R&LHS) has announced the addition of a seventh category to its Railway History Awards. Recognizing “excellence in magazine journalism devoted to past or present passenger rail service,” it is the William F. Howes Jr. Passenger Rail Article Award.
R&LHS reported on Dec. 29 that its Executive Committee agreed to add the award at the suggestion of R&LHS’s Southeast Chapter, which the late William F. Howes Jr. helped to establish in 1989. The chapter contributed $1,000 to kick off the first several rounds of the award, which, like the six other Railway History Awards, will present winners with a certificate and a $250 honorarium, according to R&LHS, North America’s oldest railroad history group, which celebrated 100 years in 2021. With 2,400 members, R&LHS not only presents awards, scholarships and research grants, but also publishes the semiannual journal Railroad History.
Howes, who died July 31 at age 81, was a career railroad official. After a brief stint with the New Haven Railroad, he joined the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) and worked for its successors Chessie System and CSX Transportation until retirement. He served as R&LHS President from 1994 to 2003.
Among other roles, he was the last Vice President of Passenger Services for the affiliated B&O and Chesapeake & Ohio railroads, and served as the last Director of the Pullman Co. sleeping-car operation. He oversaw the final runs of B&O’s flagship train, the Washington-Chicago Capitol Limited. Although reinstated years later, the Capitol was excluded from the initial route map for Amtrak, which took over intercity passenger rail service from the private freight railroads on May 1, 1971, according to R&LHS.
Howes was also known for two other signature programs:
- He helped develop the Chess-C cat logo for Chessie System in 1972, reviving a C&O advertising logo that began in the 1930s. “Accompanying the introduction of the logo was a bright new yellow and vermilion color scheme for locomotives that helped increase visibility to onlookers and alerted motorists at grade crossings of an oncoming train,” R&LHS reported.
- He promoted the Chessie Steam Special series of steam-powered excursions in 1977-78 to mark the 150th anniversary of B&O, the first common-carrier railroad in America, according to R&LHS.
“Bill was so much about passenger rail,” R&LHS Southeast Chapter member Paul Barnes said. “This is a great way to honor his legacy for all he’s done for the industry, the passenger side of the industry, and for railroad history generally. He was a walking encyclopedia [and he] was all about fostering, paying it forward, and cultivating the future of railroad history. He was always willing to go above and beyond to spend time with younger people who had a definite interest in railroad history to grow their knowledge.”
Steve Baxendale, Chairman of the 55-member Southeast Chapter, credited Chapter Secretary Larry Shughart with originating the idea. “Because Bill was president of the R&LHS, [establishing] the best passenger train article [award] would be a good way to honor his memory,” Baxendale said. “It would be something meaningful and would reflect on Bill’s life, even [that part] after Amtrak [started].”
R&LHS in 2015 honored Howes with its Gerald M. Best Senior Achievement Award for “lifetime contributions to the field of railroad history.” Howes coauthored three books: The American Railroad (with Joe Welsh and Jim Boyd, Motorbooks/MBI Publishing, 1999); Travel by Pullman (with Joe Welsh, Motorbooks/MBI Publishing, 2007); and The Cars of Pullman (with Joe Welsh and Kevin J. Holland, Crestline Books, 2015).
The Howes award joins six other Railway History Awards categories, most of which are presented annually, according to R&LHS, which began its awards program in 1982. They include the Gerald M. Best Senior Achievement Award (noted above); George W. & Constance M. Hilton Book Award; David P. Morgan Article Award, given for “an outstanding magazine article or paper”; Fred A. & Jane R. Stindt Photography Award, given for “a notable body of work over a long period of time or a single photographic project or publication”; John E. Gruber Video Award; and Arthur D. Dubin Medal, honoring “truly extraordinary achievements, to be selected from among nominees for the Senior Achievement Award.” To date, only three people have earned the Arthur D. Dubin Medal: Arthur D. Dubin (1923-2011), 2009; John H. (“Jack”) White Jr., retired Curator of Transportation and Senior Historian at the Smithsonian Institution, 2009; and historian and author Cornelius W. Hauck, 2013.
R&LHS members and non-members may submit nominations for the Howes and other awards online via the R&LHS website or by email or mail to Awards Chair Daryl Mundis, [email protected] or 4 Tanna Hill Court, Baldwin, N.Y. 10505-2017. Read the rules and eligibility guidelines here.
The deadline for the 2022 round of awards is Jan. 15, 2023. Articles, books and videos to be considered for this cycle must have been published during the five-year period from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2021, according to R&LHS.
In related developments, R&LHS recently selected the Center for Railroad Photography and Art of Madison, Wis., for the 2022 William D. Middleton Research Fellowship, and independent author Sandra Jackson-Opoku of Chicago for the 2022 John H. White, Jr. Research Fellowship.