We needed to do more research. What other railroads did Navajos work for? Each RR company has its rail corridors and BNSF runs closest to the Navajo Nation.
Section gangs and Regional gangs were just one of many things that we will learn from our production. Like the church denominations that partitioned our reservation, each area of the Navajo Nation was selected by trading post owners to recruit labor for specific RR companies. In some parts it was the ATSF and later the Santa Fe Railways; and other areas it was Union Pacific and Denver Rio Grande Railroads. However Navajo steel gangs working for Union Pacific caught our attention.
Our next trip was to visit a third generation RRer from Tohatchi who is very active in the safety hazmat training for Navajo RRers. We meet Darryl Begaye and his uncle to understand the full life of a Railroader through the eyes of a new hire, middle age, and retiree.
Kenneth Barney is our narrator and my relative (Tsinaajini and Kiyaanii) and from this one interview our story began to take shape in a big way.
He showed me the old, old employment papers used to calculate the years of service. And seeing this opens up a lot more questions.
Nephew Darryl invites me to film his tie gang down near the Mexico border at Santa Teresa. Tie gang? What? We learned that there are many different specialized gangs that work on the RR, not just steel gangs. The tie gang removes and replaces the old wooden ties. Those things are not just for planter beds! There is also gang that only installs concrete ties too. So I agree to meet up in Santa Teresa because why not?