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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Merrick's the name...

Date: 10/18/20 09:17
Merrick's the name...
Author: santafe199

and crossover’s the game

One of the many things I miss about the 9 train service years I put in with the Santa Fe was going on duty at the Emporia depot, changing crews there and departing on the westbound main on a 70 MPH hotshot. Many times the train DS would utilize the Merrick plant on the west side of town to cross a WB hotshot over to the South Main. Using Merrick’s 50 MPH crossovers allowed a 70 MPH train to sail through the Ellinor plant 13 miles further west on straight rail rather than having to slow down to negotiate the slower 40 MPH crossovers. Ellinor was where Santa Fe’s California/Texas freight main line parted ways with the Colorado/New Mexico passenger main line. In today’s BNSF world the crossover situation is still the same, even though the names have changed a bit. But when BNSF’s ongoing double track project is concluded Ellinor’s physical existence will have changed well beyond its present, decades-long configuration.

Instead of writing up a fictional sequence of events to grace this thread I have lifted a partial paragraph from: ( https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?18,4527322,4527322#msg-4527322 ). This is a previous RRer’s Nostalgia I posted a few years ago…

“… a muffled horn/crossing sequence brought me out of my private railfan reverie. That would be our Blue & Yellow chariot coming over Constitution St at the extreme east end of the passenger platform area limits. Time to go to work. Red & I get our grips and head out the wire office door. At 4:15 train 199 X-1, eng 5700 comes to a graceful stop right on the walkway. We exchange greetings with the inbound Eastern Division head end crew and Red learns that the power is working normally. Red & I are onboard now and he releases the independent brake while easing out on the throttle. We’re pretty short, and the radio immediately crackles to life: 'Moving, 199'. Red picks up the radio receiver, and echoes the transmission from the rear end. Up ahead an intermediate signal next to the sprawling IBP plant is showing Yellow over Green, which sets us up for a Red over Green at Merrick nearly 3 miles from the station. We will be crossing over from the Westbound Main to the South Main. Next comes: 'Constitution St, 199'. And finally 'East end of the platform, 199', with Red answering each. The rear end boys are giving Red the spotting he needs to slow the waycar down for a safe rolling crew change. He has made a minimum brake-pipe reduction while still in throttle. We are down at between 3 & 4 MPH when Red kicks off his air. His timing is spot-on as my braking partner Tim gets on the radio with: 'Highball Red, everybody’s on!'. Red answers with: 'Roger' and throttles up. Our speed shoots up to just over 60 MPH. But that shimmering Red over Green reminds us that a couple of 50 MPH crossovers still have to be dealt with. Red throttles down and sets a minimum, then goes right to a 10-pound reduction. I’m standing over the console and am burning with admiration as our 5700 noses into the first crossover exactly at the prescribed speed. In a few seconds Tim radios: 'All across, Red'. Red answers with an omen: 'OK, hang on'. He has the throttle quickly in the company notch (That’s run-8 to you civilians), and we’re at 70 MPH in no time…”

I offer no remorse for any perceived braggadocio in my description of having to slow down to a speed many other RRs would be thrilled to merely attain. It’s just part of the legacy of a 9 year stint with a top-notch, Class 1 railroad. A railroad I’ve loved since childhood…

1. BNSF 4845 is eastbound with a baretable train (aka “rolling parking lot”) which is crossing over from main #3 to main #2 at Merrick on the west side of Emporia, KS. That would be the Kansas Turnpike providing the heavy framing above the main body of the image.
Photo date: January 3, 2013.

Thanks for listening!
Lance Garrels

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/20 10:18 by santafe199.

Date: 10/18/20 09:31
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: texchief1

Nice one, Lance!  It will be interesting to see Ellinor when the DT is put in.  In your picture, it looks like there is already three tracks where it says begin 3 main tracks. Is that a yard track turning into a main track?

RC Lundgren

Date: 10/18/20 09:53
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: RailRat

Wow, great read Lance!
Always enjoy your posts.

Jim Baker
Riverside, CA

Date: 10/18/20 10:10
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: santafe199

texchief1 Wrote: > ... Is that a yard track turning into a main track? ...

That's exactly right! For this shot I was standing on the "Rd G" (aka Merrick County Rd) crossing, shooting through 270mm of telephoto glass. East of the Merrick plant (directly behind me) Main #3 becomes running Yard Track #3, which is used very much like a 3rd main track through Emporia. But it also provides ready access to the yard in various places...


Date: 10/18/20 10:11
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: ironmtn

Great story, Sir L!

You gotta love those 50 mph crossovers. A DS who knows how to space things out just a bit and time things to use them effectively knows what he or she is doing. On the ground and purely from the railfan perspective, I've seen that kind of handiwork happen a few times before. Always neat to see, and almost certainly appreciated I'd think by the crews on the hotshots. And....by the customers, too (even though out of sight and out of mind for them).


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/20 10:12 by ironmtn.

Date: 10/18/20 16:19
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: Ritzville

Very enjoyable post Lance!


Date: 10/18/20 20:55
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: Dick

Ellinor was and still is a neat place.  I first spent the night there in 1973.  Just wish I would have had a video camera then.
Dick Eisfeller

Date: 10/20/20 12:48
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: FiestaFoamer

I was going to ask if there was a tower at Merrick -- I remembered there being one from my old Santa Fe railfan VHS tape, which was shot in 1990 -- but I just googled it and there is/was. Is it still there? If not, when did it get torn down?

Date: 10/20/20 14:00
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: santafe199

FiestaFoamer Wrote: > ... a tower at Merrick ... Is it still there? ...

I was very fond of Merrick Tower, although it had been out of service for YEARS before I first saw/shot it in 1976. With Instamatic slide film, no less. I believe the tower was finally razed in the mid-2000s, maybe a bit later, while I was working for MRL up in Montana. I know when I retired and came home in 2010 there was a huge gaping hole in the scenery on the west side of Emporia. I loved to use it for photo props, so here are a few links:

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,1140076,1150553#msg-1150553 (contains links to 4 more threads)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/20 14:49 by santafe199.

Date: 10/20/20 17:46
Re: Merrick's the name...
Author: IC1038west

Really good thread. It's always enjoyable to see a control point that maintains or improves capacity, velocity, and flexibility. Merrick has been a fun location to learn about. Kinda miss the electric lead, but still good stuff at Merrick. Thanks for thread(ing) the crossovers.

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