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About this collection

Nikolas began his employment with the Milwaukee Railroad in September of 1941.  He served in a variety of positions with the Milwaukee Road, including operations, engineering, safety, and accounting.  He also served as an office engineer with the Burlington Northern Railroad.  His long career with the railroads in South Dakota led to appointments to several important state and regional railroad boards.  In 1980, Nikolas was appointed to the South Dakota Railroad Board by Governor Bill Janklow.  He was named to several railroad boards, including the South Dakota Railroad Authority, of which he remains a member.  In the 1990s, Nikolas was appointed the co-chair of the review board for Dakota Montana & Eastern Railroad’s proposed extension in to the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. 

 

George Nikolas was drafted into service at age nineteen, as part of the first draft of U.S. teenagers.  His service began in March of 1943 and he was assigned to Camp Buntner, North Carolina and Camp Pickett, Virginia for training.  As a member of the 3rd Platoon, D Company, 310th infantry regiment of the 78th Infantry Division, Nikolas sailed for Europe in October of 1944.  Upon reaching England, the 3rd Platoon fought its way toward the Siegfried Line, a series of German anti-tank defenses and bunkers.  The 3rd Platoon breached the Siegfried Line in December of 1944, at Lamersdorf, Germany.  From here, Nikolas was part of the drive into the “Ruhr Pocket”, which ended at the city of Wuppertal, Germany.  Following the German surrender, Nikolas remained in Europe as part of the occupation force in Berlin, as part of the US Intelligence effort to identify former Nazis and war criminals.  He returned to South Dakota as a decorated veteran with the rank of Staff Sergeant, which was awarded in May 1946.  As of 2012, Nikolas was the last living member of the original 3rd Platoon.

 

This collection documents the many facets of South Dakota’s (and in small parts other bordering states) railroad history.  These facets include: rail lines such as the BNSF, Milwaukee, and the Canadian Pacific; Construction and geography; specific rail line segments; operational files which include training, daily operations, cargo, rail accidents, time tables, and Trackage rights; Rail plans and maps; boards, committees, and associations; legislation; and financial statements of both the state and the rail companies. 

 

 
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