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S. P. Engineer Herman W. Altmeyer photos, courtesy Frank Maffei

When the late Frank Maffei was a teenage railfan living in Colma, California in the late 1940's, Engineer Herman Altmeyer befriended him and became somewhat of a hero to the lad. Herman, who was promoted to engineer on September 5, 1911 was then nearing his career end as the regular engineer on the San Bruno Branch (the original main line to San Francisco) through Colma. Frank described him as generally unperturbable, except the day that the Bayshore Roundhouse foreman came up short for a locomotive suitable for the branch's stiff grade, and gave Herman a tall-drivered P-1 class 4-6-2 then normally assigned to the Commute trains. Tall drivers tended to be very slippery on grades, as well as cumbersome in switching boxcars. Herman managed just fine, but accompanied his chores with an ongoing commentary about the unsatisfactory state of affairs. As told to E. O. Gibson by Frank Maffei, 2015

Herman William Altmeyer, 1887-1972

H. W. Altmeyer at Union Park, Daly City in front of a 2-8-0 "hog" normally assigned to
the San Bruno Branch - courtesy Frank Maffei

Herman retired about 1952 after seeing a change form steam to diesel propulsion on
the branch. Here he photographed on a diesel during one of Frank's numerous cab rides.
- courtesy Frank Maffei.