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Railroaders' Nostalgia > 16 hours on a caboose?


Date: 03/20/17 00:05
16 hours on a caboose?
Author: aronco

A recent post asked questions about the safety of being aboard cabooses.  That brought to my mind an incident that occurred long ago, in Spring 1970.  I was a young supervisor for Santa Fe.  I was working on some problem at Gallup when the Division Superintendent called me ( no, there no cell phones then - the division telephone operator found me since she knew where every one was, even if you were hiding out or playing golf or fishing, she would find you ...).  The supt. told me to be in Belen, New Mexico  that evening because there might be a strike in the morning, and he needed me to be the conductor of the Super C train which was due out of Belen about 600am.  "OK, boss," was my reply.
I checked the train lineup and found a fairly fast freight to ride.  It got me to Belen about dinnertime,   I checked into the only decent motel in town, and called the chief dispatcher in Winslow to let him know where I was.  All supervisors were expected to "tie up" with the chief on duty at all times.
Sure enough, the picketers and signs were up when I arrived at the yard about 530am.  Yawn!..  Super C drove up about 600am.  Our engineer was to be Road Foreman Jack Elwood, who I believe is known on TO.  My brakeman on the caboose was to be the train masters clerk from Gallup.  I never did figure how he got to Belen!
After a quick 1000 mile inspection, we are off to the races.  There are no trains ahead of us in the past four hours, so we should probably set a few records today.  My how we flew!  I really wish I had kept a log of this trip but I figured they would trade us out at Winslow, 286 miles to the West.  Fat chance!  We flew thru Winslow non-stop at about 50 MPH and blasted up the grade to Flagstaff and kept going.  By now we are about 5 hours into this trip and so I asked my brakeman if he brought anything to eat.  "No", he said, "didn't you?"  Uh oh!
Fortunately, as we passed Williams Junction, the dispatcher's radio crackled to inform us that Johnnie Mow, the agent at Seligman, would hand up sandwiches to the head and rear end.  The Supt. added that he didn't want us to stop there, just catch them on the fly.
Well, it was a slice of Bologna and a coke, a meager sustenance, as we had, we thought, 157 miles to go to Needles, where surely a new crew would take over.  Now I don't know where Johnnnie got those sandwiches, but I can tell you they were the bare minimum without mustard or mayonnaise.  Oh well, soon we will detrain from this noisy caboose and perhaps our hearing will return.
Riding in that caboose was much like being in a 55 gallon drum while someone pounded on it from the outside with a wooden mallet.  We ram out of water sometime after Seligman, but we endured.
About 40 miles from Needles, the Supt. called on the radio to announce that we had made such a record run that we would be able to make it all the way to Barstow in the hours of service ( 16 hours then) .  We were overjoyed!
Roaring thru Needles, we began overtaking freight trains that had departed Belen well ahead of us.  Our train of about 16 piggybacks and four SD-45's was flying, even making over 70 downhill from Kingman to Topock.
We stopped at the Harvey House at Barstow at 725pm Pacific Time, 14 hours and 22 minutes from Belen.  What a ride!
The switch engine was coming toward our caboose to reduce the one piggyback of mail for Barstow ( Las Vegas) so I helped out with that quick switch.  Always glad to help out, even if I am starving and deafened from our record ride.

TIOGA PASS

Norman Orfall
Helendale, CA
TIOGA PASS, a private railcar



Date: 03/20/17 06:20
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: trainjunkie

Sounds like heaven! Hahaha!



Date: 03/20/17 08:06
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: Super_C

What a great story!  Thanks for sharing it.  I have many fond memories of the Super C crossing New Mexico and Arizona.

A very good friend, Ron Welch (a retired conductor from Gallup) told me many tales about caboose rides on the Super C between Belen and Gallup.  "Rock and Roll" took on a whole 'nother meaning!  Sadly, Ron died not long ago.

John Lucas



Date: 03/20/17 08:21
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: goneon66

made my day.  thanks for posting that great ride......

66



Date: 03/20/17 12:09
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: retcsxcfm

What I like about these railroad stories,they make me laugh,but
they were not funny  back then.

I am just short of 30 years retirement,just another railroad career
for someone else.

Uncle Joe
Seffner,Fl.



Date: 03/20/17 17:25
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: jointauthority

Wow, management running trains. Great story.

Posted from Android



Date: 03/20/17 17:57
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: rrman6

Sure did when labor union strikes were on...had to keep the wheels rolling and money flowing!!



Date: 03/20/17 18:34
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: jointauthority

Must have been hard work.

Posted from Android



Date: 03/20/17 22:29
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: aronco

A side comment on management running trains during work stoppages:  Railroads have obligations as common carriers to provide what service they can during a strike.  In addition, railroads want to get as much traffic delivered as possible to get it off their property and out of their responsibility.  Operating supervisors frequently will cross picket lines to deliver railcars to factories when rail customers are being picketed.  I never had any trouble spotting railcars to a factory during a strike at a factory.  I always made it a practice to talk with the picket captain before crossing the picket line, explaining our obligation to provide service.  Only once did a picket line refuse to get off the tracks, and the railroad police quickly solved that issue.  

Norm

Norman Orfall
Helendale, CA
TIOGA PASS, a private railcar



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/17 22:30 by aronco.



Date: 03/20/17 23:52
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: mapboy

aronco Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  ... Our train of about 16 piggybacks and four
> SD-45's was flying, even making over 70 downhill
> from Kingman to Topock.
> We stopped at the Harvey House at Barstow at 725pm
> Pacific Time, 14 hours and 22 minutes from Belen.
>  What a ride! ...
> TIOGA PASS

I get about 730 miles in 862 minutes= 51 MPH average.  Do you remember some of your speeds on the uphills?  I'd like to know your speed out of the Colorado River Valley from Needles to Goffs.



Date: 03/21/17 00:23
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: jointauthority

At least back in the day management actually knew how to railroad and had spent time working the craft. These days they are a joke....

I bet that was a heck of a run, that's a lot of territory.

aronco Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A side comment on management running trains during
> work stoppages:  Railroads have obligations as
> common carriers to provide what service they can
> during a strike.  In addition, railroads want to
> get as much traffic delivered as possible to get
> it off their property and out of their
> responsibility.  Operating supervisors frequently
> will cross picket lines to deliver railcars to
> factories when rail customers are being picketed.
>  I never had any trouble spotting railcars to a
> factory during a strike at a factory.  I always
> made it a practice to talk with the picket captain
> before crossing the picket line, explaining our
> obligation to provide service.  Only once did a
> picket line refuse to get off the tracks, and the
> railroad police quickly solved that issue.  
>
> Norm

Posted from Android



Date: 03/23/17 13:38
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: WP-M2051

aronco Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A side comment on management running trains during
> work stoppages:  Railroads have obligations as
> common carriers to provide what service they can
> during a strike.  In addition, railroads want to
> get as much traffic delivered as possible to get
> it off their property and out of their
> responsibility.  Operating supervisors frequently
> will cross picket lines to deliver railcars to
> factories when rail customers are being picketed.
>  I never had any trouble spotting railcars to a
> factory during a strike at a factory.  I always
> made it a practice to talk with the picket captain
> before crossing the picket line, explaining our
> obligation to provide service.  Only once did a
> picket line refuse to get off the tracks, and the
> railroad police quickly solved that issue.  
>
> Norm

Norm,

That must have been one of the standard CE-1 or CE-2 pool cabooses in transcontinental use then.  By the time I went into engine service in 1978 (selected by your engineer,  the great  RFE J.O. Elwood) there were International Car CE-6 and CE-8 cabs that were evidently MUCH louder in the noise category.  I deadheaded a lot from Fresno to Richmond but always did it on engines; at this late date I'm sorry I didn't try a caboose at least once.  BTW saw you at the PV convention in Spokane last year  when I re-introduced our AT&SF #33 business car, formerly TAMALPAIS, now REDWOOD EMPIRE.



Date: 03/23/17 16:05
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: KskidinTx

WP-M2051 wrote:

..........I deadheaded a lot from Fresno to
> Richmond but always did it on engines; at this
> late date I'm sorry I didn't try a caboose at
> least once.  

When working as an engineer and called to deadhead, I most always rode the caboose, especially on the inbound trips (Wellington to Emporia or Ark City to Emporia).  I did this for a couple of reasons.  One was I always appreciated the quiteness of the caboose compared to riding a trailing locomotive.  Second, I always wanted to see how smooth (or rough) the different engineers operated the train.  Most of the engineers were power brakers but a few I knew used the dynamic brake, and they were good at it.  I didn't noticed much difference between the two different methods.

By the way, I'll share my experiences while operating trains during a couple of work stoppages in the early '80's, that is when I get time to do so.

Mark   



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/17 18:49 by KskidinTx.



Date: 03/31/17 00:48
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: Hookdragkick

Impressive. I can imagine your shooter that day.

14hrs 22m to Barstow... rediculously awesome! I've had tickets with that amount of time trying to make it from Belen to Winslow at 271 miles.

Posted from Android



Date: 04/01/17 20:19
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: SD45X

4 SD45s and 16 pigs......Shouldn't have slowed going uphill:)



Date: 04/09/17 19:58
Re: 16 hours on a caboose?
Author: Dreamer

I miss Ron Welch.  he was a true gentleman. he talked about doing the trip in just 2 hours.  charlie Williams told me about going into emergency and being able to recharge the train before it came to a stop. 

Dreamer



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