unny day in the high hills over Caliente. Birds are singing, the sun is high, and everything smells like creosote.
I’m backing a steam engine up the grade from Caliente to Allard where some future track work will take place. Off my pilot coupler I’m dragging a gondola filled with railroad ties and a crane car, along with a little caboose bumping along for the ride. My job was to get up in that remote location and work on the siding, unloading ties for at least an hour (a real hour).
So I worked it like a real job. Pulled off the main just past the west Allard switch, dropped a covering flag man and called the dispatcher to let him know I was on site and had an order form to get back home. He told me I needed a flagman up past Bealville to keep down trains out of my shorts. After that, I imagined how the real crew would work.
So, the first thing, I put my crew to work. Uncoupling from the gon and crane and leaving them, up the hill we chugged, all the way up to the far end of the Bealville siding to drop off my flag dude. By the time I ran back down, it was time to move the gons along to the next site. So up the hill we went. Three sites, fifteen minutes at each. Lunch (real lunch) was served while at site three; not one to equally sacrifice, I left my fictitious crew to manhandle those sun-sticky ties into position and had a burger and coke in the crew lounge, door open so I could watch for passing trains. Finally I was through with the job. With the worksite providing a flag east, I ducked out behind a Caliente-bound train and drifted downhill. Once past the west Allard switch, I backed in and picked up my flagman from that end. Back up at the site (with the engine now on the right side of the wreck train) I broke out my tooth-gnawed pencil and greasy order form, called the office and wrote (and repeated) the following:
Eng 3765 run extra Allard to Kern Jct and has right over second 804 Allard to Bena and wait at Caliente until 1:50pm.
Yessir, the end of a perfect day.
Because I was driving a train, not tossing railroad ties.