A family tradition: BNSF family has 223 years of service
Tradition is a hallmark of the railroad industry and for railroaders alike. Stanley “Shane” Mudge, assistant director, Network Control Systems (NCS), is a fourth-generation railroader at BNSF. From growing up in a foreman’s boxcar to starting his career with BNSF predecessor Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF or Santa Fe), Shane has continued his family’s legacy alongside his brother, Jay, and nephew, Shawn, marking 223 years of collective service – and still counting!
Stanley Jr. was promoted to principal welding engineer in 1965, and in 1973 he became assistant superintendent at the Centralized Welding Plant in Amarillo. He retired in 1984, after a career spanning 42 years.
Stanley Shane Mudge
In addition to sharing the name of two railroaders in his family tree, Stanley “Shane” Mudge also chose the Santa Fe as his career path in 1993. He began working in the Signal department and was promoted to signalman after three years of service. In July 1998, he was promoted to signal controller in the Signal Operation Center (SOC) in Fort Worth, Texas, BNSF’s headquarters.
Shane has stayed in Fort Worth in several roles: senior technical analyst (2004), manager of NCS’ SOC (2009) and assistant director SOC/Positive Train Control Operations Center (2017). He will retire in 2025 after 32 years of service between the Santa Fe and BNSF.
John Yallon Mudge
After immigrating from England, John Yallon Mudge began his career on the Santa Fe railroad as a car foreman in 1885. John worked first in Galveston, Texas, and later in Cleburne, Texas, retiring in 1907 after 22 years of service. John’s career sprouted as the first limb on a family tree of railroaders.
John’s oldest son, Walter Mudge, joined the Santa Fe and signaled the second generation of Mudges to work on the railroad. He started his career in 1905 at Cleburne as a part of the Mechanical team. Walter left the industry in 1918.
Albert Claude Mudge
Just four years after Walter began work at the Santa Fe, John’s second son, Albert, joined the railroad in 1909. Albert worked at the Santa Fe’s Store department in Cleburne until he retired in 1930.
Stanley Mudge Sr.
By 1917, all of John’s sons worked on the Santa Fe. Stanley Mudge Sr. started his railroading journey as a Machinist Apprentice in Cleburne. Stanley would go on to work in Bellville, Galveston, Brownwood and Sweetwater, Texas, holding titles as an apprentice instructor, assistant round house foreman and diesel foreman. After 44 years, he retired in 1961, completing the second generation of Mudge men working on the Santa Fe.
Stanley Mudge Jr.
Stanley Mudge Jr., Stanley Mudge Sr.’s son, forged ahead as the third generation of Mudge family railroaders in 1942. Stanley Jr. started his career while still in high school, working for the Santa Fe in Cleburne. After World War II, he returned to the railroad as a machinist apprentice. In September 1958, Stanley Jr. transferred to the welded rail division of the Engineering Department and moved to Belen, New Mexico.
“Growing up alongside the tracks in a foreman car, the connection between rail and family was clear,” Shane said “Seven other foremen’s families lived in foreman cars too, so we all felt like one big family. The neighborhood moved with us whenever we relocated. Railroading means family.”
With a 30-year railroading career and generations of railroaders before him, Shane noted that every railroad job is essential to keeping the nation, and its people, running.
“What every person does, every day, at the railroad is impactful,” he explained. “And what the railroad does for us is impactful too. Looking at my own family, the railroad has taken care of us. The railroad always took care of us.”
Jay Rhett Mudge
Like brother and like father, Stanley Jr.’s oldest son, Jay Rhett Mudge, joined the Santa Fe in Amarillo in 1994. Jay was promoted to locomotive engineer in 1995, assistant trainmaster in 2005 and trainmaster in 2009 – all in Amarillo. Jay is set to retire in 2024 after 30 years of service between the Santa Fe and BNSF.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at the Santa Fe and BNSF, and being located in Amarillo, there’s a strong sense of home,” Jay said. “People that I’ve worked with over the years have also worked with my dad, and in addition to being in the same workplace, you have something else in common: family. We’re one family.”
Shawn Brandon Smith
The Mudge family railroading legacy continues in a fifth generation: Shawn Smith, grandson of Stanley Mudge Jr. Shawn was hired in the Signal department in 1998. After two years, he was promoted to signalman.
In 2002, Shawn was promoted to signal controller, moved to the SOC in Fort Worth and has since held roles as NCS supervisor (2005), NCS manager (2010) and other various management roles prior to his current position as director of Technology Services, infrastructure (2022). Shawn has been with BNSF for 25 years.
“The railroad isn’t a job, it’s a career,” Shawn said. “My dad was in train service, so I was around the depot and trains as a kid, which was impacting. But as I got older, everyone had a connection to the railroad, and it seemed like a brotherhood.”
Working for the railroad was always something Shawn planned, and he has since discovered a new level of appreciation for the industry.
“Growing up around the railroad, you see the impact it has on you and your family, but when you work for the railroad, you connect the dots,” Shawn added. “The railroad impacts communities everywhere and is the backbone of the economy.”
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