Donald Hughes, 86

Railroad engineer

January 08, 2007

Donald Griffith Hughes, a retired engineer who operated steam and diesel locomotives on the old Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, died of cancer Wednesday at his Parkville home. He was 86.

Born in Cardiff in northern Harford County, he moved with his family to West 31st Street as a child and attended city public schools.

Officials of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad hired him in 1940 at age 20 - below the normal minimum age of 21 - because his father and father-in-law worked for the line, which operated between Baltimore, Towson, Bel Air and York, Pa.

He began as a fireman on steam locomotives and became an engineer in 1947, working both passenger and freight trains.

During World War II he served in the Army in the Philippines.

After the line stopped offering passenger service in 1954, Mr. Hughes operated some of the last freight steam locomotives run in Baltimore. He left the M&P railroad in 1956 and joined the Canton Railroad, where he operated freight locomotives along the Southeast Baltimore waterfront. He retired in 1980.

In August 2005, Mr. Hughes was present at a ceremony when his old diesel locomotive, No. 82, was unveiled as part of a railroad museum in Muddy Creek Forks, Pa. where sections of the M&P railroad have been preserved.

"In just two seconds he climbed up and was in the cab," said Rudy Fischer, a member of the Maryland Pennsylvania Railroad Historical Society.

Mr. Hughes also fished trout streams in Western Maryland, hunted and enjoyed gardening.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today at the Johnson Funeral Home, 8521 Loch Raven Blvd.

Survivors include his wife of 68 years, the former Ruth P. Yaeger; two sons, George William Hughes of Parkville and Robert Wayne Hughes of Flintstone; two daughters, Helen V. Miner of Arbutus and Ruth P. McKee of Baltimore; 13 grandchildren; and 25 great-grandchildren. One son, Donald G. Hughes Jr., died in 2002; another son, David Lee Hughes, died in 1968.

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