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Nostalgia & History > Sweet! But what's her number?

Date: 01/11/19 04:21
Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: santafe199

When I made the move from the MRL Missoula engineer’s extra board down to the same at Laurel I knew I was in for a lot more switch jobs than I was used to. Laurel had the large classification yard, plus Billings had its fair share of jobs. Laurel had the straight forward switch jobs 24/7 at all 4 corners of the yard, plus a steady stream of “extra” switch jobs covering miscellaneous stuff. The yard jobs at Billings were a mini version of Laurel. Even in the 1990s there was still a lot of daily industry switching. Not surprising with 2 oil refineries in operation. But there was one unique switch job I wasn’t prepared for. And that was the job that serviced the Western Sugar plant.

I caught the Sugar job only 3 or 4 times. The first time I ran a switch engine into that plant I felt like I was transformed back 40 years! Word from some of the older switchmen was that the plant looked pretty much the same as it did in the 1950s, or even earlier. I believed them. There were tracks running here & there which made for some complicated switching moves. And I have to say as sweet as sugar is for human consumption the general look of the Western Sugar plant from inside the gates was most un-appetizing, to say the least.

I would have to dig out my old timebooks, so I can’t remember off hand the date of the very first time I worked that job. But I made a discovery that made me anxious to catch the job again, soon. In what I can only describe as the “bowels of the plant” I had spotted an old tea-kettle of steamer, an ancient 0-6-0 that looked like it hadn’t turned a wheel in half a century! I was going to make sure I carried my camera the next time I caught the job. I got my golden opportunity in March of ’92 and made use of it, in perfect sunlight. We came to a spot in our shift where we had to hang around waiting on a car to be released. So I spotted my engine and crawled down to shoot a couple of slides. I didn’t even take time away from the job.

It’s a good thing I got my shots. The next time I caught the job that old tea-kettle was nowhere to be found…

1. With reporting marks of “GW” only, this 0-6-0 switcher sits in serious decline. It’s in frame with my switch engine -MRL 13- inside the Western Sugar complex in Billings, MT on March 14, 1992.

Did this old engine have a number? Does anyone know whatever happened to it? It’s a complete mystery to me…

Thanks in advance for any help!
Lance Garrels

Date: 01/11/19 04:37
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: valmont

Back on 2/7/12 I posted pics of 16 Great Western Sugar 'dinkys', including this one ... alas, the shot of it didn't show a number ... so Lance I just posted this to say I'm no help : >)

Date: 01/11/19 04:51
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: santafe199

valmont Wrote: > ... I just posted this to say I'm no help ...

Well Vince, I surely do appreciate the excruciating but valiant effort you just went to! Exemplary, to say the least. My hat's off to you, my friend... ;^)


Date: 01/11/19 07:01
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: Mudrock

3  0-6-0T  Great Wester Sugar (Keystone Steel & Wire) World Museum of Mining, Butte, MT display H.K. Porter #7059, 1928

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/19 07:02 by Mudrock.

Date: 01/11/19 07:06
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: santafe199

Mudrock Wrote: > ...  3  ...

#3 it is. Thanks Chris!   Lance

Date: 01/11/19 13:17
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: Roadjob

Have no info for you, but I think it is an extremely interesting photo. I wasn't officially in any engine service, but I sure saw enough firsthand views from the cab, of some of the old industrial plants in the east, and the ridiculous maneuvers that crews went through to pick up and spot cars.

Bill Rettberg
Bel Air, MD

Date: 01/11/19 13:37
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: santafe199

Roadjob Wrote: > ... ridiculous maneuvers that crews went through ...

You'd have been entertained getting a cab ride with the Sugar crew. As I recall there were multiple times where we had to move a car over in order to proceed through the south side of the plant so we could cross a busy street and see-saw our way over to the north side of the plant to spot/pull car(s). And certain cars had to be ran around so we could pull out, then shove back into the main yard. Including just about any variation therein...


Date: 01/11/19 21:03
Re: Sweet! But what's her number?
Author: ATSFSuperChief

Pretty sure it was used at the Great Western Sugar Plant in Johnstown, CO when I worked on the Great Western in 1973 to 1974.

Don Allender

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