together 39-foot long sections of rail. These steel track sections were laid on cross ties of wood or concrete and held down on the cross ties by spikes or other fasteners. Then crushed rock or other materials were laid on the ground to ensure good drainage and good support for the crossties and rail. With the advent of longer and heavier trains, it was necessary to increase the strength and stability of track. This was accomplished by welding many sections of rail together and fastening the welded sections to the cross ties. The longer sections of rail not only provided more stability, but also required less maintenance. Southern Railroad was a pioneer in the introduction of welded rail and a significant contributor to the development of track-laying and maintenance technology. The operation of long, heavy trains also necessitated that locomotive engineers be retrained. Southern Railroad developed training programs based on research and operations experience. As Stan’s career developed, all of these issues fell within the limits of his responsibility. He was promoted to assistant chief mechanical officer, then to vice president of engineering and research, then to executive vice president of operations.
Nothing in Stan’s education signaled his unique leadership qualities, but from the beginning, he displayed a capacity to identify the nature of problems and the resources necessary to address them. Exchanges between Stan Crane and his senior staff were more like the sharing of views in an extended family than typical boss/employee exchanges. Stan had the presence of a father figure and the ability to infuse the discussion with the excitement of a doctoral examination. He knew how to generate excitement for solving the problems of the hour.
Stan’s progression from laboratory assistant was duly noted by other companies faced with making the same improvements, and the Pennsylvania Railroad recruited Stan Crane to serve as director of industrial engineering. After just two years, however, Southern Railroad won him back, and Stan renewed his climb to the top of the company. He was soon named president and chief executive officer (CEO).
Southern had an inflexible requirement for retirement at age 65. At that time, Stan left to become chairman and CEO of