Les Burford

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Leslie Burford is considered to be the father of the Southwestern Live Steamers Club. He was instrumental in the development of the Live Steam hobby in Texas.

Family Background

Les Burford, a long-time employee at Dallas Power and Light—Bill Aston's boss, friend, teacher, and mentor. Using small boats, they ran rivers together: the Red, the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Atchafalaya.

William Aston, former President of Dallas Power & Light, related the following about Les in 2010:

Another father figure/mentor was Les Burford at DP&L. I greatly respected him. He and I used to go boating and camping. He had two daughters too. I see one of his daughters several times a year. One motivation for our river trips was that Les's ancestors had a plantation outside of Atlanta, Georgia, when the Civil War began. The Yankees did bad things to them, and the grandfather said he would not swear allegiance to the United States so he took his family to Central America. A couple of the children died there from yellow fever, and they were reduced to eating monkey meat. He finally decided to take his family back to the US. He would frequent the wharf where the sailing boats were docked. He made friends there with a Swedish captain. When the captain came to New Orleans he brought the Burford family to New Orleans with him. With financial help from the captain they continued up river via Jefferson City and then migrated up to Cookville, near Mt. Pleasant, in East Texas. He started farming and became very prosperous, and his family ended up owning the bank, the cotton gin, and several businesses in town. These were the forebearers of Burford. The lesson I got out of this is that a person whose entire livelihood was destroyed can struggle and come back and be successful again.

Leslie Burford Memorial Award

The Southwestern Live Steamers presents the Leslie Burford Memorial Award each year to an outstanding individual or family who have made significant contributions to the Live Steam hobby.

The Southwestern Live Steamers "Leslie Burford Memorial Award" plaque, presented to the Click Family, October 2016.


The following appeared in Live Steam Magazine, January 1981

It is with a most heavy heart that I report the passing of Leslie Burford, at age 78. Les was a retired Vice-President of Operations for Dallas Power and Light Company. He died December 4, 1980 at his home after a long illness.
Burford founded the Southwestern Live Steamers and was a member of many Live Steam clubs across the country.
Born in Cookville, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and joined D.P. & L. in 1925. He was named a Vice-President in 1956. He served in that position until his retirement in 1967. He and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in September.
Burford was a familiar figure at many steam meets over the past years. He had acquired one of the more complete home workshops and foundry. Many engines across the country sport various items conceived and made in his shop.
His second love was cruising. He was a member of the Dallas Chapter of the U.S. Power Squadron. He and Dorothy have cruised just about every rover and bay east of the Mississippi including several trips on the Inter-coastal Canal from Texas through Florida.
In addition to his wife, Les is survived by two daughters, two sisters and five grandchildren.
It has been my good fortune to work almost daily for the past ten years with Les, and I can say he has helped and encouraged many people in the hobby. We in the club feel a very great loss.
Harold Timm

Club Activity

From "Southern Steam", Jan,Fed,Mar 1973

Newsletter of Mid-West Live Steamers

Les Burford of the Southwestern Live Steamers says they will have Fall Meet on new 6000 feoot track now being laid with 2000 feet complete already.