Opslog – Saluda Grade – 6/13/2011

Opslog – Saluda Grade – 6/13/2011

Observations from running ahead of a young fella with a short attention span.

In Knoxville, I climb aboard Train 172, which will hang down the W line to Spartanburg after car swapping in Asheville. A couple of tracks over, this young man is fumbling radio, cards and whatnot, trying to get train 162 onto the line. He’s crestfallen when the dispatcher tells him to hold.

“Train 172, clear to enter the main,” the dispatcher responds to my initial call. “Cross over to track 2 and call clear into Asheville Yard.”

“Don’t take it personally,” I tell him. “I’m running an hour late – my cars are first on the setout track. It’s quicker if we go into the yard in order.” The kid frowns at my cut as it rattles past his nose, thumbing the radio. “Train 162 to dispatcher, can I go nooooow?

The yardmaster lines me into the eastbound arrival track, plenty of room for 162 to fit in behind me. I check my train orders. Four cars off on track 5, then pull four from track-


My train lurches forward five scale feet. I look back to see the kid’s engines nosing my caboose. He followed me into the yard, all right.

We fuss his lead unit off my crummy (nothing like trying to uncouple in the middle of a tight yard, on a curve). After we finally disconnect. I pull out my waybills and take a final confirming glance. “You might want to watch this,” I tell him. “You gotta do the same thing.”

He’s watching a crew switch Fletcher.


My cars are off, the new ones added. As we pump the air, I thumb the mike. “Dispatch, Train 172, ready to depart Asheville for Spartanburg.”

“Train 172, clear to Fletcher Main.”

The kid’s head snaps around. “Hey, wait! What did you do? What do I need to do?”

I can’t help my smug smile. “Dispatcher, Train 172: Highball.”