We are saddened to learn about the death, at 80, of Lowell S. “Jake” Jacobson, Railway Age’s 1994 Railroader of the Year and namesake of the ASLRRA Jake Awards for safety. Godspeed and Rest In Peace, Jake. You guided and influenced many in our industry.
Jacobson was the president and COO of the Railroad Company of the Year in the 1994 Railroad Era. Hayden was the Arizona Basin Second Copper Railroad (CBRY), the first short-term operator to receive the award. In 1993, a section of the highway near Carney, Arizona was washed away by rising water levels in the Gila River. Jack and all the railroad employees worked tirelessly to save the short line, and they even fought the Army Corps of Engineers at once to build a dam to push the river back to its original place. His actions during the floods and the long months of rebuilding damaged parts of the railroad earned him the Railroad of the Year award.
In December 1999, “Railway Times” named him one of the great railwaymen of the 20th century. In 2000, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association changed the name of its annual safety award to Jack Award, which is awarded annually to Class II, Class III and conversion railroads and terminals with one year free of injury.
“Jack is being compared to popular American rail heroes Casey Jones and John Henry,” wrote CopperArea.com in 2012. Hero, a safety fanatic. It can be said that the railroad is his blood. His mother, his father, and his grandfather all worked in the railroad department. Jack grew up in Kansas and was exposed to hard work and the railroads.