The Last Run: Railroad’s First Female Engineer Ends 34-Year Career
On Jan. 31, in her final hour of closing out a 34-year career as a locomotive engineer, the 69-year-old Pekin woman is a rarity in a male-dominated work force.
Guy is a third-generation railroader. Her grandfather, Dolph Guy Sr., father Dolph Guy Jr., and two brothers, Dolph Guy III, and Mike Guy, were all locomotive engineers.
In November 1975, after five years as an elementary school teacher in Springfield, Kathy Guy went to work for the railroad.
“I started exactly 39 years later. I always thought that was so unusual,” she said.
“I’ll never forget my first student trip. It was with an old head engineer, Tony Racci. When I walked out to the engine my heart was just racing. By the time I sat down in the cab, I was calm, cool and collected. He was just a real laid-back, easy-going guy – he made me feel at ease.”
“Some of them didn’t talk to me,” she said. “At first there was a lot of resistance. I was an oddity … I was a woman working in a man’s world.”
“When you work on the railroad, it’s not a job, it’s a way of life. You get called when the cars are ready to go, so you’re on call 24/7.”
“And I really want to ride a passenger train. Can you believe that? All these years running a train and I’ve never been on a passenger train!”