One of the pivotal (and poetic) moments of history is Sept 15th, 1940 during the Battle of Britain. This was the day the Germans threw their entire bomber and fighter force against the English Isles, and the day the English had everything (including their reserves, as it was famously stated) up. It’s one of those days you see coming, and then the storm breaks upon you.
That was the club tonight. When I’d heard that two of our solid operators weren’t going to make it, I thought it was pretty much a wash. This close to the holidays, members start staying home. We don’t have December sessions, and this session we moved a week up to escape Thanksgiving. I figured, at best, we might get a dozen guys, run the starter set of trains, and peter out to nothing.
When I came into the lot, it looked like Walmart. The place was packed. A couple of false starts, some system failures, and I wondered if we were even going to run. Finally the clock gasped into life and we were off.
Usually I have 202 followed by Silver Bullet 2 to deal with down the water level route from Cincinnati to Martin Yard. Tonight, two extras joined the precession along with the coal train, oddly prompt out of Carbon Hill. The summit over Harris Glen is always a problem – tonight I had six trains stacking up against its western slope. Crap, things were building fast.
There was only one thing to do – I advanced the first westbound freight as far as I could, just over the summit to Red Rock. Silver Bullet 1 got to Harris and thankfully fit. And another freight made it to Hellertown. And that was as far as they’d go for a while. I began cutting orders to the eastbound parade, eventually running six trains (including a helper pack and an anaconda-length passenger train) east. Since most of the crews were packed in around Pittsburgh, it was pretty easy – an order to move them across the summit, another order to run restricted, watching for trains ahead. After the readback, I’d ask the conductor to put the next crew on the horn. As that avalanche of trains got rolling, I was able to cut trigger orders to to westbounders (who were all disgusted at the delays, but hey, at least they had a lot of trains to watch). In the end, we ran every freight, every passenger train, coals both ways, all the locals and a number of extras. 85 warrants got the railroad to completion at scale-midnight.
The layout ran well, the new scenery is breathtaking, and most of us (at least, everyone who wasn’t going westbound across the summit before 10am) had a good run.
Man, we made that session work!