2009 was the end of a 30-year run for a Sheridan woman who spent most of her working life with the railroad. Sheridan Media News Director Kurt Layher talked with her about her life on the rails.
It was the late 1970’s, and Merry Potter was looking for an interesting career. She found a job as a brakeman with Burlington Northern Railroad. Before long she realized that she wanted to run the trains she was working on. Potter says it took several months of training before she became an engineer and it wasn’t always easy.
Yet, she proved herself over and over again. Lifting connection knuckles and attaching engine air hoses in winter temperatures of -30 or colder. While those may be some of Potter’s least favorite duties, she says you don’t do something for 3 decades without good times, as well.
Potter was the first female engineer ever for Burlington Northern before they merged with the Santa Fe railroad. She and her husband, Dave were both railroad engineers and her oldest daughter followed in her parents’ footsteps by becoming an engineer in the 1990’s.
As for future plans, Potter says she’d like to travel a bit and has already acquired a dog. Merry and Dave had never had time for pets before. They are also both looking forward to spending much more time together.