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Railroaders' Nostalgia > A scary night at SP Gemco Yard.

Date: 05/31/23 22:55
A scary night at SP Gemco Yard.
Author: ApproachCircuit

How would you like to feel a human hand in an pitch dark environment where  there  should be nothing of the kind?
Ok, another auto parts train from Taylor Yard, L.A. out to the GM plant at Van Nuys, CA (Gemco)
Nothing new here, there were countless extra trains running out there 24/7. In fact it kept the extra board with an  adequate  pay check
especially during lean times. Some trains were "shut down trains" with just one or two cars, mostly one and sometines with 3 or 4 big'jacks.
So on this particular trip, it was late at night and  as you railroaders can probably guess, odds were it was 2 or 3 am!! So after getting rid of the car(s)
it was time to change ends for the run back to LA. We did not  have to  pull the  extension( sometimes north of 100 cars) that night.
Well the trailing unit had no power-pak for the radio. This was common. So the power-pack had to be unharnessed and moved to the other end
of the power consist. That unit, this night was a U30C or U33C GE. Now those loco's had a large room, with a toilet, and some other gear behind the
seat boxes. It was pitch dark except for the hoggers light above his seat. After opening the "Radio Room Door" you could wire up the power-pak,
not a difficult job. Well the "room" was dark but there is a light switch just inside the door. Upon reaching for the switch, a human hand was encounterd!
Oh Shit! Now what?  Scream for help? Well all that ends well. ends well. There were some illegals in there trying to get up to Salinas for farm work
90% of these guys are OK, no problem. They just had gotten on the wrong westbound. End of story!


Date: 06/01/23 22:12
Re: A scary night at SP Gemco Yard.
Author: roustabout

A while ago, shortly after SP spun off the Willamette Valley branches to WPRR, I was running the Eugene Hauler between Albany and UP Eugene on the relief job.  Granted, it was daylight, one day I got on our outbound power and set out to walk through and knock off the locomotive handbrakes, etc.  Probably the third of our units had two guys and two dogs in the cab, camped out.  They were friendly enough but, when asked, they admitted to wanting to get to Portland. They left quietly, went to find another way out of town. Back then, it seemed like the carmen in Eugene would think it funny to point such folks to our train for some reason.  At the end of our run, we'd have a number of folks wandering around Albany yard, who often asked us how to get to Portland.  Not so much in later years, thankfully.

Date: 06/05/23 23:32
Re: A scary night at SP Gemco Yard.
Author: SP4360

As a signal maintainer for Metrolink, I never had any issues goiint anywhere on the Valley or Ventura Subs, except Gemco. Even working nights doing monthlys at burbank Jct was no big deal. 2 of us worked at night, I had from Lancaster to Burbank Jct., and Montalvo, the other guy had Moorpark to Burbank Jct. We would double up at Gemco doing the switches out of safety, Lockheed and Burbank just to get them done. One night I had a track light up in the canyon between where Russ used to be and the east end of Ravenna. He met me at MP48 and we started walking west. It was pitch black and when we got to the animal Sanctuary those big cats started meowing. He did his best to beat Jessie Owens', I was busting a gut laughing. He said never to call him for help in that area again. Even after showing him pictures of where the kitties were, that didn't matter, he was sure they would claw their way out of the cages and have him for lunch, I found the broken rail not far from where he was last seen,  held up the first 2 Metrolinks, died on the law and went home.

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