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 Post subject: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:29 pm 

Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 6:30 pm
Posts: 85
Location: Illinois
Hi all,

Today I was doing some research on the CB&Q steam program's demise. I got a good laugh when I saw the nickname railfans came up with for Louis Menk--"The Fink". I also learned that there were a series of buttons produced for the railfan community along the CB&Q that said "Menk the Fink". After no success of finding one for sale online, I'm wanting to make a replica of one for my railroad pin/button/patch collection. If anyone has an original, could you please take a picture of it and post it here so I can see what it looked like?

Thanks,
Thomas Dyrek

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:33 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
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Middleton's Encyclopedia of North American Railroads mentions these buttons on p.694

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:07 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
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Location: Maine
They are mentioned in Ziel and Fosters, "Steam in the Sixties", concerning the close of the Burlington steam program. They still show up at shows.

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:00 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
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Location: Byers, Colorado
That name for Louis Menk was very popular among employees, as well, and is still in use today when retirees start talking about the old days.

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:14 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
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In this period there was a popular 'cult figure' based on Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's parody of Mickey Mouse - Rat Fink. It would seem logical to base a Menk the Fink graphic on this...

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:19 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 8:42 am
Posts: 375
Location: Haslett, Michigan USA
I almost hate to contribute to this, but I actually saw one of these on a Chicago-area foamer's patch-laden jacket at an event at the LaPorte County Historical Steam Society when it operated its 3-foot-gauge Shay, around 1975(?). I had read of these buttons, and I might have sneaked a photo of the guy as an example of how NOT to make railroad managements love railfans. Without digging out the slide, I recall the button as around two inches, black print on white, in bold sanserif capitals, with the "the" in a smaller type size, arranged like,
MENK
THE
FINK
But what I really remember is how that Shay went around their railroad, which was closer to a Jeep trail than a railroad grade. A perfect place to demonstrate a Shay.

Aarne Frobom
Lake Effect, Michigan


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3725
Location: Maine
Just to add to the historical aspect of the discussion, CB&Q was running excursions with O5a Northern #5632 at the time, as well as other system specials using Mikado #4960. These were exceptionally successful and popular steam trains at the time. Burlington, like the Nickel Plate Road, had shopped quite a string of their larger, multi-purpose steamers, only to park them in long lines at Galesburg, before shipping them to Sterling, Illinois, for scrapping. The other things was that a good deal of infrastructure to support the two operating steam locomotives remained in place. When Louis Menk made the decision to kill Burlington steam in total, it condemned the parts supplies, the steam shop facilities, basically the works. For awhile, 4960 ran the circus train to Barraboo, Wisconsin, but it looked bad for 5632. That was when the locomotives were acquired by Richard Jensen.
You all know what happened to CB&Q 5632 and GTW #5629. Thank goodness, 4960 was sold to responsible caretakers. Jensen's few other locomotives received a scrapping reprieve but I don't think any have been operable since the collapse of his program.

Anyway, the wrath against Louis Menk was because he saw the two steam locomotives and the facilities in place at the time, as an open monetary artery.

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:54 am
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Location: Califoothills / Midwest Prairies
NOW this discussion is getting very interesting. Thanks for that input Richard.


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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There is one thing I've always wondered about. Famous CB&Q Northern #5632 needed an overhaul and President Harry C. Murphy authorized it just before he retired. That program was quickly killed by Mr. Menk when he took over. One thing I found out much later is that the Q had rebuilt Hudson #4001 in 1954, sent her to Lincoln, Nebraska where she was set up for service, put into storage and then never used! If Mr. Murphy had decided to put the 4001 in service instead of authorizing the repairs to 5632, would Menk still have had the reason to kill the program? Probably....but to this day I still wonder!

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:15 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
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Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Lou Menk left presidency of the Frisco in 1965 to become head of CB&Q. He was only there at the Q for a year; he became president of Northern Pacific in 1966 (until the BN merger took effect in March 1970). The big "Northern Lines" merger was already brewing when he came to the Burlington, and he was probably part of the "get it all ready to merge" program. Harry Murphy's steam program was simply not on the program for the new BN.

Interesting how Menk had been at Frisco before joining the Northern Lines, since BN and Frisco eventually merged in 1980 (some say it amounted to a managerial takeover of BN by SL-SF executives).

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:29 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:14 pm
Posts: 457
Location: Essex, Connecticut, USA
Oh goodness!
A few corrections/clarifications are in order:
1) CB&Q No.5632 was a class O5b (oil burner).
2) CB&Q No. 4960 was a class O1a (coal burner).
3) By 1958, the strings of steam locomotives at Galesburg (some in the Round House) were just more nice, complete locomotives that almost all of which were out of "flue time" (think pre-2000 FRA Part 230 rules).
4) 4960 was chosen in Fall 1959 to be an excursion locomotive because it had time left on it AND it could go places 5632 couldn't (read: Ottawa branch, etc), and it wasn't the only serviceable locomotive sitting around. In Summer 1960, 2-10-4 M4a 6315 made an ill fated trip to Galesburg, double headed (luckily as it turned out) with 5632...
5) 5632 was OOS c.1963 and Mr. Murphy decided to have it rebuilt at West Burlington shops on a time available basis. They had the firebox sheets fitted up and had purchased enough new flexi bolts, sleeves and caps to finish the job and have enough left over to maintain the locomotive for a while.
6) 4960's last excursion was in July 1966. It was then donated to Circus World Museum at Baraboo, WI (later it went to Mid-Continent Railway Museum, etc.)
7) Richard purchased 5632 in c.1965 after Mr. Menk took over. It came with 5 carloads of parts and machines.
8) Richard purchased 4963 in late 1966 (I accompanied him to Galesburg to inspect it prior to it being shipped to 49th St. Round House). It came with 3 carloads of parts and machines (including a huge flue swagger).
9) As I recall, the REAL reason we were so upset with Mr. Menk was that we had been paying a "steam locomotive operation surcharge" or such, which was added to the price of the ticket (typically about $10.00), which we thought was to insure the continuation of the CB&Q steam program...
10) I believe the 4001 story to be apocryphal. I don't recall seeing it at Galesburg on November 2, 1958 when I made my first trip or on later trips, although, neither was CB&Q 5629...
Be well,
J.David


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:36 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:14 pm
Posts: 457
Location: Essex, Connecticut, USA
Dear Howard:
You have "jogged" my memory!
Richard once told me that he had tried to purchase a Frisco 4-8-2 which was sitting at Springfield, MO with three 4-8-4s.
He had to deal with Mr. Menk who said flat out that he wasn't going to sell him a steam locomotive: he didn't want it to come back and "haunt" him!
J.David


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:24 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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J.David wrote:

10) I believe the 4001 story to be apocryphal. I don't recall seeing it at Galesburg on November 2, 1958 when I made my first trip or on later trips, although, neither was CB&Q 5629...
Be well,
J.David


J. David -

The story about 4-6-4 #4001 is from Issue #33 of the Burlington Bulletin, the Official Publication of the Burlington Route Historical Society. As I said in my comment above, I didn't find out about the status of 4001 until I saw this copy of the Burlington Bulletin which I picked up used, many years later. I am not sure that the Q could have used the Hudson even though she had sat unused after her overhaul in 1954, if a waiver would have been required, or just what would have been needed. My only thought was that she probably would have cost a lot less than getting 5632 back on the road! Incidentally, 4001 was one of the railroads engines that were streamlined to protect Zephyr schedules when diesels weren't available. She was a bit different from her sister 4-6-4's in that she had a Worthington Type S feedwater heater and an all-weather vestibule cab. Unlike the other streamlined Hudson's, she wasn't rebuilt from a 3000 class engine, but was built in the railroads West Burlington Shop from components furnished by Baldwin, Commonwealth and other suppliers. The 4001 wasn't sold for scrap until November of 1960, so Mr. Murphy would have had to have an idea to hold her for the day that 5632 needed an overhaul. That obviously didn't happen.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:50 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 611
All this talk of steam engines and Mr Murphy is doing a number on me, ha! Just a kid back then but remember the uproar and only dreamed of being involved with the Q excursions. Love the history shared about Jenson, Q steam program and the drama that occurred. I so wished I could of been involved at the 49th st roundhouse. Stories from Mr Wantz. Remember seeing pictures. Years later {early 1980s} I drove truck in Chicago and was in that area. Later on it got easier to get under the tracks and get to where you wanted to be. The stock yards, Pershing rd, and the police and locals and the water market were some unique memories. No GPS or cell phones to help you get out of jams trying to find your way around down there. But mentioning steam engines and Mr Murphy in the same sentence just gets me. Regards, John.


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 Post subject: Re: Menk the Fink Button
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:24 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:14 pm
Posts: 457
Location: Essex, Connecticut, USA
Thomas (et al):
Hee, hee, hee! I found my "MENK THE FINK" button!
PM me your email address and I'll send you a photo.
(Sorry, I don't know how to post photos...)
(If my computer was steam powered, I might do better with it!)
J.David


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