ell, it wasn’t as bad as our last club session, but it could have gone better. We had two long trains detail in the same tunnel, and being the tall lanky guy (not running a train at the time) I got to go under and dig them all out. Nothing like a long day in a rolling stock mine.
Outside of that, I did get to run – always a good thing. It’s gotta be a pretty bad session to ruin it for me. My engines were purring when I took the inaugural run of the Harris Glen Local up to the summit to work the lumber mills. Interesting bit of switching, using a coal mine’s cut as handlers (which opened up his spur for use in sorting). Anyway, got it turned and run down the hill in short order.
You can always tell when a session is bogging down. If it’s the yard, you’ll see a lot of people packing the aisle behind the yardmaster. If it’s the dispatcher, it’s generally a lot of engineers standing around with phones to their ears. That was the case tonight. I got in the queue for a warrant at 11am and didn’t get cleared out of Cincinnati until 2:30 or so (but first I had to go dig cars out of the rolling stock mine again). Got back to my cab and blew out of Cinncy, my freight rolling around the long sweeping turns of the waterlevel section of the line, the black widow F’s looking so grand at the head of 298 East. Came through Zanesville, no problem. Had a siding stop ahead at Mingo Jct, no problem. Came up to the switch, had the brakeman descend to toss the bar over, and then in we went. Out over the rooftops of Mingo, I could see a Lehigh Valley movement easing out of the Mt. Jackson tunnel, dropping behind the buildings. No problem. I’d be clear of the turnout long before he’d get there. So I’m rumbling around the long curve past the station, cutting around the back of the freight house, and SAINTS PRESERVE US! I’VE GOT A TRAIN ON MY TRACK!
Knock the F’s into emergency and slide (with all that thrilling rail-grinding noise) right up to the forward coupler of the LV units, coming up within a car length of their pilot. I can see through the front window that Jeff is in the front cab, his ashen face reflecting mine. With old-man slowness, we climb down from our cabs, walking slowly towards each other like gunfighters, pulling our warrants out of our back pockets.
“Warrant 54 clears me into the siding,” he growls.
“Warrant 60 clears me in, too,” I frown.
We call the dispatcher. He huffs and puffs but no, it’s a grade-a cockup on his ticket, no bones about it. And to me goes the honor of backing onto the main track, to pull forward without a warrant (like, what good did that do me anyway) so we can get by.
Yeah, it was a real night on the Lehigh, Monongahela and Ohio.