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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Transferring sheer boredom

Date: 09/30/21 09:17
Transferring sheer boredom
Author: santafe199

For 2 weeks in the fall of 1978 my Santa Fe-employed body was working as a switchman in Argentine Yard. But my railfan head was “spinning like a top”. Here I was, a 23 year old railfan photographer getting paid to work in one of the greatest Santa Fe meccas on the planet! I had been furloughed from my 1st choice workplace in Emporia, KS. But Kansas’ annual wheat rush gave me an opportunity to keep working out west in Dodge City. After 2 months that died down I was furloughed again. Then I got word that Argentine Yard needed to put on a few extra switchmen.

So there I was in October of 1978, officially carrying 3 different Santa Fe seniorities. Middle Division dist #1, Middle Division dist #2 and now the Kansas City Division. I would have been happy to stay at Argentine for a long time, even while living in Emporia. I had a Kansas City friend letting me use a spare bedroom in his house and Emporia was an easy 90” drive down I-35 (if you put a lead foot on the gas pedal... ;^). I now had photographic access to many spots in Argentine Yard that normal ‘civilians’ would have had trouble with, including inside the general engine shops area. And my Santa Fe employment tended to get me into other RR places around KCMO I might not have gotten into as a civilian. I was in railfan heaven, dontcha know...

But that lasted only 2 short weeks. I was recalled to the Emporia brakeman’s extra board in my original Middle Division seniority district #1. Of course I went back home! I had a young wife bravely adjusting to the ups & downs of my new career as a railroader. And she was happy. But my oh my... the incredible number of circa 1978, metro KC-area slides I could have amassed in just a few months’ time while working at Argentine! My collection would have been very different...

It only took me 3 paragraphs, but now I can describe the images I’m posting. In image #1 I shot a transfer job just out of Santa Fe Junction Interlocking, trying to make its way north toward Old Union Depot Interlocking through the Kansas City West Bottoms. If memory serves, the transfer move was stopped, allowing me to exercise my still-stubborn “roster shot mentality”. In August of 1977 I wasn’t mature enough as a railfan to know that an overall train shot would have made this slide so much more valuable to the elderly history buff in me. Oh well, live & learn.

And who knew that just over a year later I would be riding over these very same tracks, possibly on this very same transfer job! One of the work assignments I drew off the Argentine switchman’s extra board was a 2:30 PM transfer job. My timebook notes tell me the power for this shift was the cow-calf set: 1418/1418A (see image #2). Here’s how the shift went: Our first chore was to dig 2 extremely hot auto-parts boxcars out of a long cut of cars. We got a message that N&W needed these cars, like “before yesterday”. And (snickering) our move would supposedly get high priority handling! When we finally got those smoking-hot cars delivered to the N&W and our power returned lite to Argentine, nearly 8 hours had elapsed. And way over an hour of that time was spent either stopped or crawling very slowly over this same KCT trackage between SFe Jct & Old UD Interlocking. Our next chore was to take about 50 cars through SFe Jct and around the corner, over to the Katy down in Rosedale. Those cars were delivered, but we ran out of time and went D.O.L. before we could make it back to Argentine.

Now I can look at the switchman sitting in the window and just about read his body posture. I may be out on a limb here, but I’ll go with my perception of sheer boredom because they’re not moving. And they have NO idea when they might get back to forward progress. Had I not experienced that very same thing a year later -right here- I wouldn’t have a clue what the guy was feeling...

1. AT&SF 2744 sits not moving in the West Bottoms just north of Santa Fe Junction Interlocking in Kansas City, MO.
Photo date: August 7, 1977.

2. AT&SF 1418 & 1418A sit in Argentine, KS at a spot where frequent mobile refueling takes place.
Photo date: October 5, 1978. (previously posted)

Thanks for looking back!
Lance Garrels

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/21 09:23 by santafe199.

Date: 09/30/21 14:33
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: Txtrainman60

Hey Lance, Just a quick shout out to say THANKS for posting these old Santa Fe views!!!

Date: 10/01/21 06:19
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: train1275

Good stuff !

Date: 10/01/21 07:37
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: Juniata

Lance; I always enjoy your photos and especially the stories behind the photos!


Posted from iPhone

Date: 10/01/21 09:15
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: santafe199

You're welcome, guys!

Juniata Wrote: > ... and especially the stories ...

As a rule, most of my RRer's Nostalgia threads evolve when a regular Nostalgia & History caption starts expanding itself. I start with a simple image and sometimes memories come flooding out. Then I have to engage my lightning-speed 2-finger typing "skills" (as if), and get the details recorded while they're still fresh. There should be many more stories I could post, but most times those memories are just out of reach. It usually takes a particular image, or a couple of sentences to trigger them. Before I left the Santa Fe in 1987 I started keeping notes of funny & unusual incidents. The kinds of things that would make great RRer's Nostalgia stories. Being a baseball fan I'm sure I was inspiried to do that because of my reading the 1970 book "Ball Four" written by Jim Bouton, an ex-Major League pitcher. He kept notes during his 1969 season with the expansion Seattle Pilots, who moved east in 1970 and became the Milwaukee Brewers. I kept notes in the same manner Mr Bouton did, but I didn't know what I would ever do with them. After a while I sorta just faded out of the habit. Plus, if I still have those old notes they're buried, boxed away somewhere after over a dozen moves between '87 & '10. So now I have to rely on 30-40 years of what few cobweb-shrouded memories I retained...


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/21 06:46 by santafe199.

Date: 10/01/21 20:12
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: LocoPilot750

I remember 2744 when it was assigned to the Pauline Switcher for what seemed like quite a while in the mid 60's. I kinda knew the crew, & got a few cab rides. Would have been 15 or 16 then.

Posted from Android

Date: 10/01/21 22:41
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: Ritzville

Enjoyable series and narrative!


Date: 10/03/21 09:21
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: texchief1

Lance, nice story and photos!  Keep up the good work.

RC Lundgren

Date: 10/04/21 14:38
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: RailRat

Always enjoy your great photos and stories Lance!
Something about photo 2 is just "magic" for me.

Jim Baker
Riverside, CA

Date: 10/06/21 03:17
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: OldPorter

Thanks Lance for the pics, and the Backstory. I especially like Pic #1- the golden hues are perfect for the Fall/Autumn season.

Date: 10/19/21 16:50
Re: Transferring sheer boredom
Author: MacBeau

Great material as always.

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