The Brazilian Railroad Story
A true story as told to me by the fellow it happened to.
Written 11/16/2015, Rewritten 1/2016 Unedited
Some time, after world WW 2 a young man from Norway, named Knut Barth immigrated to the United States. Knut had an engineering degree and had worked for the U.S. Government as a spy at the wars end. Knut applied for a job with a major U.S. locomotive manufacturer, they also manufactured railroad engines, and at the time they were building complete railroads. He had applied to enter their engineering department and he was accepted. After working in engineering for a year or so, an opening was available in their sales department and Knut applied. At the time Knut was a bachelor and the prospect of traveling around the world for the company really interested him.
He was surprised to learn that his first assignment was to fly to Brazil. It appears that the Brazilian government in their attempt to open up the Amazon had requested quotes to build a railroad along the
Amazon River. Knut’s predecessor had already submitted his companies bid and it was Knut’s job to be in Brazilia for the opening of the bids by the Brazilian Minister of the Interior. As Knut was relatively new in sales and wondered why he had been chosen for such an important event.
Knute arrived in Brazil several days early, and after walking around the city for 2 days, he was at a loss as to what to do. In the hotel lobby he saw a tourist brochure for a river cruise, so having nothing better to do for a couple of days he signed up for it. The next day was spent on a tourist boat that took him up the Amazon River and back to the hotel.
When the time came for the opening of the bids, Knute was seated in the Minister of the Interiors office, along with representatives of his competitors companies from England, France and Germany.
When the bids were opened, and the prices announced, his companies bid was several million dollars higher than all his competitors. It appeared that Knut had wasted his time coming to Brazil.
That was until the Minister of the Interior said he was awarding the contract to Knut’s company. All of the competitors protested, so the Minister told them why he had awarded the contract the way he did. He said that out of all the bidders, Knut Barth was the only person that had taken the time to travel up the river to inspect where the railroad was to be built. Knut returned to the United States as a hero, and his eventual rise to a vice presidency was now assured.
It wasn’t until four years later that Knut learned that a $400,000.00 under the table payment had been made to the Minister of the interior by his company prior to the bid opening.