Howard V. Shrader was one of the California State Railroad Museum’s most generous benefactors. He was born in Jefferson,
New York on March 11, 1902 and moved with his family to Sacramento, California at the end of 1905. As a child, Mr. Shrader
attended the Highland Park grammar school, then Stanford High School in Oak Park.
At age sixteen, he applied for work at Southern Pacific's Sacramento Shops. Initially, he worked in the south end of the
Machine Shop or Locomotive Erecting Shop. After six months, Shrader became part of a repair gang working on gear cutting.
He underwent a four-year apprenticeship with Southern Pacific as a machinist, attending the Southern Pacific school for technical
training two hours a day and working in the Machine Shop the other six hours. Once he became a Journeyman Machinist, he did
extensive machine shop work on engines for Southern Pacific's ferryboat fleet.
From 1919 to 1930, Mr. Shrader used his Southern Pacific rail passes to take eighteen trips. On his first trip in 1919, he
went back to his childhood home, Jefferson, New York, where he rekindled a relationship with childhood friend Madeline Danforth.
They were married on September 8, 1925 in Hobart, New York.
In July of 1922, Howard Shrader left Southern Pacific to take a cross-country trip on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle from
Sacramento to Portland, Maine. He was rehired by Southern Pacific in October 1922. Shrader took other cross-country motorcycle
trips in mid-1923 and in late 1924 and was rehired by SP both times. While working late on June 27, 1928 at the locomotive
machine shop, a fire broke out which Mr. Shrader helped extinguish. His efforts earned him a letter of commendation from
the SP's Superintendent of Shops.
While working for Southern Pacific, Mr. Shrader joined Lodge 33 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
Workers. After retiring in 1967, he was granted a lifetime membership in the union.
During the Depression many Southern Pacific shops employees, including Howard Shrader, were laid off. Howard’s father Fred,
who had worked at the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops since 1905, had already left Southern Pacific and was working at Subway
Sheet Metal Works (which later became Munz Pumps). In 1930, Howard began working with his father as a machinist and designer
of propeller pumps, designing one pump that was ordered by both Disneyland and Disney World.
In 1931, Howard and Madeline Shrader purchased their first home on Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento. Mr. Shrader lived there
for 60 years. After the death of his wife Madeline in 1959 Mr. Shrader resumed traveling. He estimated he used thirty five
different airlines and took three helicopter trips between 1960 and 1982.
Making models of intricate machinery in his spare time was a life-long hobby. He built sixteen live steam engines, one fire
engine, a model of a Congreve Clock, a miniature Liberty ship engine, and a steam boiler, which caught the attention of California
State Railroad Museum Curator Stephen E. Drew, who arranged to display the models at the Museum. While a docent at the Museum
in the late 1980s, Mr. Shrader donated his certificate of completion from his apprenticeship with Southern Pacific. He was
an active member of the Museum, and visited often with Mr. Drew, telling stories about his employment at the Sacramento shops.
He was interviewed on October 30, 1996 for CSRM's Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops oral history project. A transcript of
his interview is available in the Howard V. Shrader Papers, Series 2. CSRM file [1:1], or in the Southern Pacific Railroad
Company Collection, Series 21. Sacramento Shops Oral History Project, OH 18.
Howard V. Shrader died on June 14, 1998 at the age of 96. He made the California State Railroad Museum the beneficiary of
his estate. His bequest of $500,000 was the largest single cash gift the Museum had ever received.