Highballing Down the Line: A Day with Bert Dockell on the Hill Country Flyer

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Bert Dockell sits in the cab of an Alco engine waiting for his crew members to finish tying up the train after driving the Hill Country Flyer from Cedar Park to Burnet, Texas. It’s something he’s been used to in his retirement years and he’s made the hour-and-a-half trip countless times during his time with the Austin Steam Train Association.

Prior to joining the association, Dockell worked for over 40 years with Amtrak, Santa Fe and Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, working mainly out of the BNSF yard in Temple, Texas. Now the eldest engineer at ASTA, he helps train other prospective engineers looking to help out on the all-volunteer railroad.

Black and white photo of the train engineer looking out of the cab to his conductor down below
A men at work sign in front of a rundown caboose in black and white
Black and white photo of a train engineer watching his grandson test the connection between cars
Black and white photo of a train engineer and a crew man talking
Black and white photo of a train engineer, his brakeman and the conductor inside the rail office
Black and white photo of the train engineer looking out of the cab to his conductor down below
Black and white photo of a train engineer blowing the horn in the cab of the engine
Black and white photo of a train engineer looking out the window with the cord for the horn in the foreground
Black and white photo of a train engineer moving the throttle in the cab of the engine
Black and white photo of the train engineer spinning a hand brake
Black and white photo of the train engineer looking through the front window of the cab
Black and white photo of a train engineer reaching for the horn
Black and white photo of a train engineer talking to some passengers inside the cab of the engine
Black and white photo of a train engineer and his grandson driving the train
Black and white photo of the train engineer climbing up the step of the engine
Black and white photo of a train engineer walking down the train