OpsLog – TBL – 03/17/2024

OpsLog – TBL – 03/17/2024

ight on the heels of working the Virginia SouthWestern (as detailed HERE) I boomered a job up north, taking the night train up to drop off the very next day in Tuscarora, my favorite stomping grounds. Apparently the tower has been down for maintenance issues over the last few months. Finally the interlocking has reopened (or so the head maintainer told me) – it’s run only one day so far under limited operations (with the mines closed, as detailed HERE). With Tuscarora down, all trains have been picking up orders elsewhere – the tower temporarily lost its train order station status. We’ll see if we can earn it back.

The train master introduced me around – one of the more experienced levermen, a lumberjack-looking man named Kyle, would be working the armstrongs today. A young kid named, Olympically, Zeus, would be running through on timetabled trains. I’d be station operator, just recording trains through and keeping the standard time clock wound. And some hillbilly named Reverend Jim was running coal runs, having been a yard trainee up north at Martin Yard. So it would be an interesting day.

Lowery Brickworks upgrades with a new furnace and more bunker coal (Photo: Zach B)

Kyle worked the levers like he was playing a piano – once or twice he failed a toss and got Bitchy Barbara to speak up, once for a Fault 16 warning (it brought my heart to my mouth – I thought it had failed again). But overall the tower worked as it was supposed to work. I sat at my desk, recording the times of the passing trains and taking one telegraph from Pittsburgh about a special delivery of coal to Lowery Brickworks. They were also getting a new furnace – spotted overnight on a flat car. Things are looking up for them.

Trains rolled through all day without too many delays. I noticed that the new whistleposts were – largely – being observed by the passing trains. They’d tootle through and then the guard would stumble out of his little shack and flag the drivers down as Zeus rumbled his local back and forth.

The guard stands by as the local switches Tuscarora. I’ve gotten some noise complaints… from the operators! (Photo: Zach B)

I did notice that the RS-3 lugging hoppers about needs new brakes. Once or twice it went past the tower with a velocity strong enough to rattle the windows. I’d see the engineer, furiously twisting this controls as he went by. Later, while waiting for an eastbound freight, he stopped by the tower to swipe some coffee. When asked, he told us that the train simply wouldn’t stop on the tough 0% grade. “You’d be surprised how fast my fingers are moving….” he told us. We all looked at each other and grinned.

A slick move – the eastbound coal is interlocked into the siding, allowing the local to rush by and climb back on schedule (Photo: “Fingers” Mathis)

I’m really happy that Zeus ran on the line today. He’s not done all that much switching and got himself cornered once or twice, but managed to fight his way out of it. I think he said he’s emigrating to England; they are looking for workers at Tusk Hill, a midlands tower. Maybe I’ll join him.

Anyway, it was a great day and we got the last section of the Tidewater pulled in, dropping the weary engine back at the fuel depot for a quick pump up. There is a lull from 10pm to midnight and then things pick right back up where we left them. Looking forward to it.

P.S. And for the record, Zeus enjoyed beginners’ luck and got four-in-a-row. So good for him!


A close-up view of the chiller-side of the freight house in operation. We met their demands today (Photo: Zach B)