Tom Jarratt, who grew up in Cherokee, is the only employee hired out of the Cherokee Depot who is still employed by the railroad. Hired in July of 1979 as a brakeman, Jarratt became a conductor/brakeman in the early 1980s, and reached his 30-year anniversary working for the railroad last July.
Though the railroad line has changed a couple of times during the past 30 years, Jarratt has continued to work steadily, and is now employed by the Canadian Northern line.
Jarratt and his wife, the former Nancy Engdahl of Aurelia, resided in Cherokee County until about a year-and-a-half ago, when Tom said he had "just gotten tired" of the commute back-and-forth to Sioux City, which is the home base of the railroad district in which he is employed, and the couple re-located to Sioux City.
He still travels to Cherokee at least five days a week, though, as his job takes him back and forth between Cherokee and Sioux Ciy that often. Jarratt said his work day usually starts at 6 a.m. and winds up 12 hours later. His train is a freight train, and they haul "mixed freight," as well as ethanol from the Little Sioux Processing Plant in Marcus.
Recently, Jarratt and his engineer, Brian Andreessen of Sioux City, were here on the Cherokee stop of their five-day-a-week trip.
I contacted Jarratt by cell phone earlier in the day to make arrangments for where and when to meet, and as I came out of an appointment downtown, I knew it was time for our meeting when, in the words of the late Johnny Cash, "I heard the train a-comin', rollin' 'round the bend ..."