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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Poetry in motion, from the ballast!

Date: 01/05/23 13:09
Poetry in motion, from the ballast!
Author: santafe199

In August of 1977 I was less than a year into 35mm railfan photography. I was still too much of a novice to know that I was shooting a perfectly sunlit train in this shot. With good composition, no less. I also didn’t fully understand what I recording as this UP crewman was about to lift his left foot to step up & swing onto the engine’s moving footstep. But I should have been paying attention to this veteran brakie. What I didn’t know was that in just over 9 months the RR I fell in love with during my childhood would be teaching me and 7 other shiny, green new-hires how to do the very same thing this old-head veteran was doing.

Learning how to safely mount & dismount moving equipment would serve me well for the next 32 years. On 3 different RRs! Not only that, during the 9 years I lasted with the Santa Fe I would participate many times in another classic ritual called “getting on & off” a waycar in motion. It took me a couple of times. But I soon got the timing down, it became second nature to get my lead foot onto the moving step while at the same time catching that long curved grab iron with my trailing hand. With my grip (travel bag) strapped over my lead shoulder. It was quite a thrill doing those rolling rear-end crew changes. The graceful art of catching the white grab iron of a rolling waycar never got old. Especially the getting-paid-to-do-it part... :^)

1. UP 3193 on manifest train #155 at the CRI&P crossing in Manhattan, KS on August 14, 1977. Not bad for an HP scan!

2. 5 years later I knew exactly what I was shooting when these 2 Santa Fe crewmen boarded a rolling waycar on 3-Track in front of the Santa Fe/Amtrak passenger station. By the way, I’d like you to meet veteran SFe conductor L “Leo” Hudson, the first man up the steps. And right behind him is his son, C L “Craig” Hudson. They were able to work together for a while in those years. Later on Leo passed away while I was working up in Montana. But thankfully I was able to give Craig some pictures of this particular waycar maneuver before this happened: ( A nostalgic, but sad personal note… (trainorders.com) ).
Photo taken in Emporia, KS on August 5, 1982.

Thanks for the listening!
Lance Garrels

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/23 13:10 by santafe199.

Date: 01/06/23 11:54
Re: Poetry in motion, from the ballast!
Author: sfbrkmn

I rode w/Craig on a student roundtrip to Wellks, which would have been in early 1999. Don't recall much other than on the return to Kancks, we did a s/o @ Turner. Seemed to be a good guy and I do recall hearing about his battle w/cancer later on.

Date: 01/07/23 06:04
Re: Poetry in motion, from the ballast!
Author: atsfer

Neat shot of Craig Hudson and his dad getting on the same caboose, bet there is not another shot of that happening of a father and son both getting on the same hack.  Worked with Craig quite a lot, always was a pleasure to be around.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/07/23 08:57 by atsfer.

Date: 01/07/23 07:18
Re: Poetry in motion, from the ballast!
Author: OldPorter

Superb pics and backstories; thanks Lance. Wonderful you caight the Father and son team, a rare event for sure.

Date: 01/07/23 10:54
Re: Poetry in motion, from the ballast!
Author: mkancle

The second shot is an amazing photo. Thanks for posting it, Lance.


Date: 01/07/23 15:41
Safety First!
Author: LarryDoyle

Accumulated Intelligence..

When boarding an approaching locomotive or car, the foot toward the approaching movement (i.e. your left foot if the cars are comming from your left) is always the one you lift off the ground and put into the sturrip or stepwell as you grab the handrails.  Thus, it you miss or slip your fall will be against the car and it will knock you down to the ground.  In fact if you do it right, such movement will help lift you onto the cars stepwell or ladder, helping your knees last longer.

EXCEPT!!  On the last car.  Get on at the rear, so if you fall it will be onto the rail behind the train or cut, not between cars where you will be cut in half.

Thus, near the steps behind cabooses there is a curved handrail to make it easier - even when carrying your grip as these guys show.

These guys are doing it right.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/07/23 15:45 by LarryDoyle.

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