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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Sometimes it's good to be the engineer!

Date: 03/08/19 14:53
Sometimes it's good to be the engineer!
Author: santafe199

Oh… the perks of being an engineer and not having to get out of the cab! I’m the engineer, sitting in the driver’s seat of MRL 302 on train ML-22. I’m part of an extra-switch crew that was called to go dog-catch this eastbound Missoula ~ Laurel mainline local at Greycliff, MT, roughly 58 miles west of Laurel, MT. As I recall, the regular crew out of Helena got swamped with station work & power swapping chores at Livingston. Although their train was fairly short, they had to wait quite a while for power coming out of the shops and had no chance to make it into the terminal at Laurel under their hours of service.

Before departing Greycliff the dispatcher let another eastbound train (120?) around us. We dutifully followed that high-priority manifest into Laurel. Approaching the yard the 120 received routine instructions to ‘yard’ their in the eastbound yard, and take the power to the roundhouse. We got the same radio instructions, except we were to yard our short train in the westbound yard. Sometimes the balance of traffic tipped in one direction over the other. In this case it would be easier to switch out ML’s mostly eastbound traffic in the westbound yard, and take 2 or 3 blocks of pre-switched cars over to the eastbound yard later.

This particular afternoon, now early evening the 120 didn’t get into the eastbound yard right away. But they were just starting to pull in as we came sneaking up on their left flank heading into the westbound yard. It was the second day of summer and the sunshine was glorious! But the weather gods had a nasty surprise brewing, as you can see below. I had seen the rapidly developing storm clouds and had my camera at the ready. The 120 was just pulling as I brought my ML to a stop. My guys had hit the ground to line up switches in proper sequence to let us into our assigned track. In a few seconds a crewman off the 120 would be doing the same thing over in the eastbound yard. ALSO: in a few seconds that roiling cauldron of evil clouds would snuff the evening light right out. And for the next 20 minutes it would dump boo coo 55-gallon drums full of rain on anyone caught out in the open. We got our train yarded, with sufficient handbrakes tied to hold it in place. Out of the track at the east end and back through the yard to the roundhouse at the west side of the yard. Needless to say, when my 2 crewmates were able to get back inside my nice, dry cab they looked like a couple of drowned rats!

Sometimes it’s good to be the engineer…

1. MRL scene at the west end of Laurel (MT) Yard. On a sunny, about-to-rain-buckets June 22, 1992 evening. I took this shot out of the engineer’s seat on eastbound train ML-22.

Thankful for being an engineer!
Lance Garrels

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/19 14:58 by santafe199.

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