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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Gladstone siding, on borrowed time


Date: 11/19/21 11:59
Gladstone siding, on borrowed time
Author: santafe199

In the nine years I worked in Santa Fe train service I was always glad to make it to Gladstone, KS coming eastbound. It meant I was heading home. Sailing down out of the Flint Hills, passing through the last of a series of speed-restricted but graceful curves my train would often get to sail right on into Emporia at 70 MPH. Depending on the route our train DS had lined up for us at Ellinor. A cross-over to the Middle Main at Ellinor would cut us down to 40 MPH through those turnouts. But if we were lined straight through Ellinor to the South Main it was 70 per all the way home! And when riding any of a number of hot pigs trains we would occasionally experience the ‘feather-in-your-cap’ thrill of running around another less fortunate eastbound train stuck in the hole at Gladstone. It was always fun to ‘one-up’ another crew. And that one-up thing would easily cut both ways. But as card-carrying railfan the real thrill was riding my beloved Santa Fe at 70 per through this territory, getting paid for it! The paragraph below is a partial reply I posted on another thread back in 2013:

With no delays anywhere we were gliding along very quickly over our Middle Division leg of the 881's LA-Chi transit. We came down out of the series of 55 MPH curves through the Flint Hills and our hogger decided to let it out. With many 70 MPH non-restricted curves between Matfield Green & Ellinor I had been watching the long slender line of pigs in my train. From my perch in the cupola I noted that there was very little to & fro sway anywhere in the train. We were absolutely rip-snorting through Gladstone and I became aware of our speed. After timing a few mileposts, I discerned that were making 82 MPH. It turned out to be THE fastest I ever rode on a freight train. Smooth as glass; I'll NEVER forget it!

Today Gladstone as a siding is well on the way to disappearing from the BNSF employee timetable. The east siding switch has already been torn out. And very soon the west siding switch will be the temporary west end of “2 main track CTC”. Ellinor has already been reconfigured to 70 MPH running on both main tracks. The evening sunshine is getting low on this coal train. That sun is also setting on Gladstone itself...

1. BNSF 8523 leads a Red Rock, OK-bound coal train westbound, compass SSW through Gladstone, KS on BNSF’s Emporia Sub. The east end signals are visible. The double signal at the east end is also an “approach” signal to the west siding switch at Ellinor. The double signal for the main is hidden behind the train.

2. BNSF 9266 is the rear-guard DP unit following these coal buckets. The west Gladstone signals are visible, with the main line signal just barely poking over the top of the train.
2 photos taken August 29, 2018.

Thanks for looking!
Lance Garrels
santafe199






Date: 11/19/21 18:05
Re: Gladstone siding, on borrowed time
Author: LocoPilot750

Gladstone was always kinda short, and so close to Bazar or Ellinor, why not just use those instead ? One time I was coming east, and the DS put us in the hole at "Happy Rock". We were meeting JC McNee on the 398. I pulled in as far as I could, within half a car of the signal, but was still hanging out on the main at the west end. 398 comes in slow and finally stopped. He asks us if we could see his rear end, we could, he was still not in the clear by maybe 5 cars. We were both too long to fit. DS gave me permission to flag past the red signal towards the clearance point, to get our last car in the clear at the west end. We cleared him, but couldn't get in far enough for him to get a signal, and I was so close I had to pull in my visor to keep from rubbing the 398 on the east end. We both had permission to put the power switches in hand throw, line ourselves for our movements & flag on to Ellinor & Bazar. He got a maintainer to go out and line everything back to normal. Originally, he wanted us to back all the way into the siding at Bazar.

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Date: 11/20/21 06:20
Re: Gladstone siding, on borrowed time
Author: santafe199

LocoPilot750 Wrote: > ... We were both too long to fit ...

I had that same sort of experience one day on MRL. I was eastbound on a long intermodal train #22. We were lined in at Townsend. But by our train list we were about 200 ft too long to fit. Turned out the DS was acting on train length info that hadn't been updated after this train picked up a couple of repaired bad order cars prior to our boarding it at Helena. The westbound we were meeting was way too long, but it was still a good 45" away from Townsend. So after conferring with the DS the plan was for me to drop off at the west switch while he had us lined out at the east switch. I was to stop my engineer just in the clear. Then I would walk up about 3 city blocks, make a cut and back our train into an industry track far enough to clear the east end. But as soon as I stopped my engineer he told me to wait a sec, and asked me how much room we had to the actual physical clearance point. I told him maybe a regular car length. Then he buzzed up the DS and explained the we didn't have to cut the train. But we would clear only if we could foul the track circuit clearance point at both ends. He gave us permission to put both power switches on hand-throw, and we physically squeaked into the clear at both ends. All our opposing train had to do was to stop & proceed at both switches. With my engineer & I standing on the ground at both switches, they didn't even have to get their assets off of their cab seats. Sure enough that grouchy old S.O.B. of an engineer had to piss & moan over the radio that we "just had to make this the hardest way possible". I lost it! I told him, over the radio: "You can just get yer ass on the ground and do it yourself next time!!!" This old geezer was the type of chronic grouch who would bitch you out for handing him a $100 bill upside down...

Lance



Date: 11/27/21 10:24
Re: Gladstone siding, on borrowed time
Author: texchief1

Nice stories and photos, Lance!

RC Lundgren



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