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September 7th- On the Shoulders of Giants- Part 15

posted Sep 10, 2017, 7:45 AM by Sue Line RailRoad

Up until now, you have read of people that have influenced that have made their way into regional or national press and could be considered easy pickings.  However, this “giant” is a local one and a member of the Sue Line Crew. It has been said that a prophet is never respected in his own land, but this man is well respected in the Sue Line Crew. I have known Mose Crews for about 45 years. 

We first met when attending an open house in 1971 to help UNICEF at a model railroad in Bossier City. We both kept coming back and became great friends. Mose Crews has a keen mind for operations and is very insightful on what it takes to make a railroad like the Sue Line work. Mose Crews once told me “I could operate with wooden blocks and tracks drawn on plywood. Operation was and is everything to Mose Crews. Some years back, Mose Crews built a car routing program using a Commodore 64 computer. It took six or seven different programs to complete the function of producing the final lists, but we used it for years on the Sue Line.  Mose Crews led the way for us to escape the limitations of car cards many years ago.


He has retired after more than 40 years as an auto body and paint technician and shop manager for an auto dealership. Mose Crews is a steady and loyal friend, the kind who will tell you to your face when you are wrong, but still like you.

Like any good operator, another of Mose Crews’ passions is railfanning and he has more knowledge of short line railroads than any other person I have ever met in this area.  Mose Crews interest started by watching local trains of the Kansas City Southern (KCS), Illinois Central (IC) and local short lines in and around his hometown of Minden, LA.  At one time, I believe Mose Crews knew the name of every short line railroad employee, most of their wife’s names and many of their children’s name in northwest Louisiana. Mose, with his very understanding, patient and lovely wife Sherry and their children in the early years, have traveled to and photographed trains in 37 states

Mose Crews drives about 35 miles one way each week for our operating session and I believe he has attended more sessions on the Sue Line than I have.  Near his home was a siding with a sand company and rock company.  He took photos of the buildings and measurements and then built scale models of these structures for inclusion on the Sue Line as the town of Crews Siding.  He also added a butane distributor for more operation potential on the spur.

 Mose Crews had a model railroad- the Dorcheat & Lake Bistineau Railroad that is based on the Sibley, Lake Bistineau & Southern Railroad that was abandoned in 1942.   It operated from a connection with that Louisiana & Arkansas (L&A) and Illinois Central (IC) at Sibley, Louisiana to the town of Hall Summit and was originally built as a logging road. Mose put a tremendous amount of trackage into a relatively small room and used names such a Door Jam, and Over Yard to describe the towns

Over the years, he has dug trenches for drainage, built a roof over the expansion, stayed up all hours of the night, invested blood and sweat in the Sue Line.  He is generally way too modest in regard to his contributions, but the Sue Line would have been dead in the water many times had it not been for his help and sacrifice.  Recently, he took several hundred Kodachrome slides that had been shoved back in a drawer in the work room and scanned them into JPEG files.  Many of these photos are of the history of the construction of the railroad and the people who did the work. Again, hours spent dedicated to a project that is bigger than any one of us.  That’s what giants do.  That is just the kind of man that Mose Crews is.

 Mose Crews will tackle the toughest operating positions on the Sue Line. He will analyze them and then make suggestions to improve them so that other can enjoy doing them. He will then move on to another operating position.  He is always analyzing for ways to make operation more fun for all.  There are many core operating principals of the Sue Line that have been stalwarts for 25 plus years that are due to his input and keen insight.  Through all of that time and now, though, it is always about the railroad and not one particular position.

 Mose Crews has been a major factor in the history of The Sue Line Railroad and Mose Crews has seen that growth and development from the very beginning.  Mose Crews says “Over the years there have been many great times and some hard times, but with the friendships from operating on The Sue Line Railroad it has brought together many great people and friends to keep the railroad running. “ Mose Crews  also reports “One of the things about this great hobby is the friendships that develop.”

Mose Crews was around for the early testing of command control systems and has a prototype or two that probably belong in a museum.  Operations on more than one railroad have been heavily influenced by him.  He can look at any track diagram or visit a layout and design an incredibly sophisticated but realistic operating scheme quickly.  The list goes on and on.  To this day, he takes our often pie-in-the-sky discussions back to down to earth by bringing our focus back to the core principles of operation and why the Sue Line has done so weekly for over 3 decades.

So, you may not have ever heard of Mose Crews before now, but I can tell you that he is the giant on whose shoulders I have stood on the longest to reach my highest goals with the Sue Line all the while keeping me grounded.