Thursday, June 28, 2012

CN's Express Trains in the 1960's

After several weeks of putting out inquiries for photos and information on CN's Express Trains of the sixties, and receiving only bits of information describing notes from a few former CN employees regarding their trips on those trains, my quest for the grail began to wither on the vine.

It seemed very strange to me that these trains should have been missed by the many railroad photographers who had been staked out along many hundreds of miles of railway right of way.

They may have had different train numbers, or designations such as 104, or 2nd No. 1, or perhaps they just ran as extras when westbound or perhaps were dispatched on a freight schedule from the timetable when running eastbound.

The express trains seemed to have faded into the shadows of time and those unique trains, sometimes referred to as "the hotshot", "the bullet," or "the speed" that several of us recall so fondly were gone without a trace.

Well, you know what they say..., "when you stop looking for something, that's when it will show up."

Levina Shaw, of Coquitlam, BC contacted me with the name of a man who had worked at Redpass Junction for a while in the late 50's and early 60's.  She said that a story that I had written in this blog about being given an Oral Examination of the 1962 Uniform Code of Operating Rules in unique circumstances prompted her to get in touch with a friend of hers who had spent a few years at Redpass.

Lavina contacted Bill Atkinson and gave him Caboose Coffee's internet address and the introduction was made.

Bill had only worked at CN for a relatively short period of time, but that left an indelible imprint on him.

When he left CN for a career with Greyhound Bus Lines, he took with him the memories of several years of living alongside the track and working in stations, copying orders, and delivering them to passing trains.

I found his story to be warm and alive, even after all these years away from the railroad.  I encouraged him to give me more information so that I might share it in a story for you to read.  Bill's story will be published in Caboose Coffee next month, but in the meantime...., Bill had been cleaning out some boxes that had been stored in his spare room and he began to discover artifacts from his time with CN.  He thought that I might appreciate some of the artifacts that he had saved from his time as an Operator.

Perhaps there would be something in the package that might shed a little light on the express trains that surely would have been running during the period that Bill worked on the Albreda Sub.

I checked my mailbox every day and finally, a sturdy Canada Post envelope arrived from Bill.  I cleared a space on my desk and took a pen knife from the drawer.

Inside the envelope, I found four time tables; 1955, 1957, 1960 and 1962.  I also found a stack of train orders dated between 1937 and 1968. Some of these were CN, some CP and the rest hailed from nearly every railroad in North America.  These had been Bill's collection, acquired by trading with other operators across the continent.

Bill had also found some photographs, which he scanned and sent to me.

Thanks to a few of these train orders, some quotations from emails I've received from former railroaders, and a photograph or two, I was able to piece together a decent snap shot of some train movements that I know some of you will be interested in.

One of the train order sets caught my eye almost immediately.  The "Clearance" read...,

Station - Jasper
Date - December 26, 1962
Train - Extra 6501 West

As you will notice, the clearance shows three orders for the Extra 6501 West and they are 402, 404, and 405.

Train order number 402, addressed to Westward Extra Trains advises Westward Extra trains that No. 504, the Way Freight due to leave Blue River Wednesday December 26th is annulled Blue River to Jasper.

Order number 404 advises the Extra West that it may run at permissable timetable speeds for passenger trains except as noted in the order.

The coins were beginning to drop!

First, the clearance was addressed to the 6501, an FP9A passenger locomotive, and an "Extra" train which was most often a freight train. But sometimes a passenger train would be run as an extra if it had become more than 12 hours late on it's schedule.  This meant  that it couldn't run as "Number One" or "Number Three", etc.  There were other occasions when a passenger train would be run as an 'Extra', but they were not common.

What would order number 405 tell me?  I turned the page, and ...

Engine 6501's running order, a Form G train order gave the engine authority to use the main track between Jasper and Blue River on December 26, 1962.

Order number 405 also stated that Extra 6501 West was to meet Number 868, an eastbound train running on a freight schedule, at Fitzwilliam, and it has right over No. 870, another freight schedule from Jasper to Blue River.

Leaning back in my chair, I re-read the orders and visualized the circumstances surrounding the movement of these trains.

Both the westbound and the eastbound were being pulled by passenger locomotives and, in all likelihood, neither of these trains were passenger trains.  They had to be special freight trains, otherwise known as.... Express Trains!!!

Then I noticed the small CN form attached to the back of the orders.  It was the Train Register Check that all conductors filled out and attached to both copies of the train orders..., one for the engineer and one for himself.

The Train Register Check, as seen below shows pertinent information about superior trains which have arrived, or are due on the subdivision, but have not yet arrived.

It also shows, for the benefit of the engineer, the number of loads and empties on the train as well as the tonnage he'll be pulling.

In the case of the Extra 6501 West, Conductor Gristwood has noted the names of the engineer, Doug Brown and fireman, Metro Yakiwchuk.(sp)  The cars and tons and the numbers of all the units in the locomotive consist.

All three of the locomotives in the engine consist are geared for high speed operation and were customarily used on passenger trains, or other high speed traffic.  The 6600 is an EMD "B" unit and the 4100 is an EMD GP9.

Digging deeper into the stack of train orders that Bill had sent to me, I found more orders and clearances addressed similarly.

For example, one set dated January 1, 1963 at Boston Bar addressed to Engine 6509, running extra from Kamloops Junction to Boston Bar, meeting Number 856 engine 6533 at Skoonka.

In the same set of train orders is an order for No. 1, engine 6536 to meet No 856 engine 6533 at Spences Bridge!

And another..., December 28, 1962 to No. 727 (freight schedule) engine 6504 at Spruce Grove, Alberta!

There were more..., enough to suggest that in the winter of 1962-63 there were express trains running wild in CN's Mountain Region.

How about photographs of these trains?  Well, I found one of my own shots, taken of a westbound express train about a mile east of Jasper.  It's not clear, but for an old Kodak Instamatic, I'm grateful for small treasures.

The head end crew was Engineer Roy Kipping and Trainman Spike Hudson.  Engine numbers not known.  Photo Bruce Harvey.

Next, is a photo submitted by Bill Atkinson of Calgary.  Bill took this photo at Redpass Junction while he was stationed there.  He thinks it was circa 1962.

Note, if you can, the train consist behind the engine.  There is a trailer on a flat car, then a baggage car or two.

Thank you Bill.  This is a 'Classic' photograph!


One of our astute readers commented via email that one of the reasons that passenger locomotives were used on these trains was to take advantage of the steam generators that each of this class of locomotive was equipped with.  Some shipments would require heat to prevent freezing en-route, and if that was the case, a passenger locomotive would be supplied.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Salmon Fishing From the Train

Everyone can recall a story in which one or more of the Company's rules, or some law or another has been broken.  Often, these rules or laws were broken on a more or less regular basis, either to make the job easier, or..., just for fun!

This story takes us on a train ride that involved a crew breaking the law causing a lengthy police chase.  As well, everyone enjoys a story that has a happy ending.  

Some time ago, Butch Whiteman, a life-long railroader who came from a long line of railroaders sent me this story.  He told me that I could post it on Caboose Coffee, but that it would also be published in the CN Pensioner's periodical newsletter.  

While some of you are CN Pensioners and will most likely have read Butch's story in that organizations' newsletter, I'm sure that others of you, and many non-CN readers will enjoy it too.  

Let's see what Butch had to say about this family adventure.

This story dates back to the Fall of about 1960 when CN still had wooden cabooses. It was just after radio was installed in the Dispatching offices and equipped on engines. In the wooden caboose days, each train crew was assigned a caboose as it became their home at the turn-around point. My father was a Conductor working out of Kamloops Jct. at this particular time and was assigned to the Freight Pool on the Ashcroft Sub.

Kamloops Jct. is located about 5 highway miles from the city of Kamloops. Because of the distance and because few people owned cars at that time, CN operated a bus service from the CN Station on Lorne Street in Kamloops to the Junction where crews reported for duty. The Dispatching office was located in the Station on Lorne St. and if a person walked to the station and was there ahead of the bus, it was common practice for road employees to drop into the office to see what was happening on the road, and get an idea of when they were coming back home.

Business was not all that brisk on CN in 1960. This was a time before any type of unit trains like lumber, coal, sulphur or potash were running. There was the odd long train of grain and grain empties operated, but we didn't have long sidings yet to accommodate long trains in both directions on the same day, so they were infrequent. Intermodal traffic was still years away and not even a pipe dream at that time.

CN operated about 4 - maybe 5 - trains a day each way in addition to the two transcontinental passenger trains. Our eastbound speed train was called No. 420 and it followed passenger train No. 4 out of Vancouver everyday except Monday.

I was a young brakeman still living with my parents at home at this time. I was called one morning for No. 420 and was going to be on the crew going on the Clearwater Sub. from Kamloops to Blue River. I walked down to the Station and because the bus still hadn't arrived from the Jct. to take us there to work, I went into the Dispatching office to see what was going on. 

CNR Kamloops Station a little the worse for wear.
When I entered the office, I recognized the Ashcroft Sub. Dispatcher standing in the middle of the front office talking to the Asst. Chief Dispatcher.

As soon as I entered the room, he looked at me and said: "This is the Conductor's kid.... we better tell him what's going on." I didn't know what the problem was, but I knew my Dad was coming from Boston Bar to Kamloops on the Ashcroft Sub. this day and no doubt whatever it was, had something to do with him.

They told me that the R.C.M.P. had received a report that fish were seen being loaded "into the cab of the hot-shot" at Boston Bar. 

 Fishing of salmon going upstream to spawn is illegal except for the Native population for their own use. The purchasing of such fish is illegal. The Fisheries Dept. wanted the train stopped, the caboose searched and to confiscate any fish found, and charge the employees with poaching. Of course, the Railway was obligated to comply with whatever instructions the police gave.

When this report was given to the CN Dispatching office, the train still had not reached Lytton which is about 25 miles east of Boston Bar. As Lytton was the closest place from Boston Bar where the train could be stopped and the search done, the police wanted the train stopped there so they could make their inspection. The Company complied with the request by giving the train a red train order board which requires the train to come to stop for orders. The R.C.M.P. intended to get on the caboose at the moment the train stopped and instruct the crew not to leave until they completed their search.

Because the Dispatcher didn't have any orders for the crew, the Clearance showed 'orders nil'. Now by rule, only the engine has to stop at the train order signal..... not the caboose. When the Engineer read the Clearance and saw that there was no restrictions to his train at that location, he released the brakes and pulled out of town, picking up speed as he departed.

The police were not in position to get on the caboose when the train stopped and as it picked up speed too quickly for them to get on while it was moving, they lost their chance to make their inspection there. The Police Officer did yell at the tailend crew on the caboose as it passed him (presumably to stop), but they thought he was just yelling hello, so they yelled hello back to him and continued on their way.

The CN rail line is not all that accessible to any roads on the Ashcroft Sub, so the police decided to wait until the train got to Kamloops Jct. to make their inspection.

When this part of the story was related to me in the Dispatching Office, I naturally wanted them to get in touch with the crew on the radio and tell them what was going on. But at that time, radio was brand new to us, and no one was sure just how much monitoring was being done by the Railway Transport Committee or even the R.C.M.P., so nobody would take a chance on 'going public' with a warning of this nature. However, they did tell me that they had tried to get a warning to my Dad via the Engineer on Passenger Train No. 1.

Like me, the outgoing Engineer on No. 1 that night had stopped in to talk to the Dispatcher while waiting for the bus. After the situation was explained to him, he said he would call the crew on the radio and tell them that the machinist had left a monkey wrench on the engine at the Jct. and he was going to throw it off to them at the switch, and ask them if they would take this wrench back for him. But instead of it being a monkey wrench, it would be a fusee with a note attached to it advising the crew that the police would be waiting at Kamloops to inspect the caboose for fish. They told me that this was the very best they could do.

Shortly after being advised of all this, the bus arrived and I got on to ride over to the Jct.

At the Jct., the bus stops at the Engineers booking-in room before it goes on down to the Yard Office where I was going. When the bus stopped there, I glanced across to the yard and saw that No. 4 had just arrived on the main line and the outgoing Engine crew was climbing up into the cab of the engine. This told me that the train had just arrived.

After I got off the bus and walked over to the yard office, I saw two uniformed R.C.M.P. constables standing near the beanery door watching the passengers move about. They looked inconspicuous enough, but I knew the real reason of why they were there. My Dad's train still hadn't arrived at that point in time.

I decided to walk down the yard and around the curve toward the west switch where the train entered the yard, and where the police couldn't see me get on the caboose. I did this and when I got on, I told my Dad that the police were there to take any fish you might have. Dad looked at me strangely and said "we haven't got any fish".

With that exchange, I detrained from the caboose and walked back toward the yard office, watching as my Dad and his tailend brakeman got off the moving caboose opposite the yard office. The police jumped on as both the tailend brakeman and my Dad got off, but they couldn't get in as the caboose door was locked. I was in the yard office when the police came in and made the Brakeman go back with them to open the caboose and wait for an inspection of it. I had to attend to my duties going out on the outbound train, so that was the end of it as far as I was concerned.

When I got back from my trip to Blue River, I found out what really happened: It was true that neither my Dad nor any of his crew knew what was going on. The police turned that caboose upside down looking in every cupboard, the coal bin, the water tank and under the mattresses for fish, but of course, couldn't find anything.

My Dad told me that when their train started moving at Lytton, the tailend brakeman was on the back step and in position to retrieve their orders on the fly at the station. Both my Dad and the brakeman had seen the police at Lytton and heard him yelling at them, but with the noise of the moving train, they thought he was just yelling hello, so they yelled hello back and carried on.

The message attached to the fusee thrown off at the switch at the meeting point was meaningless to the headend brakeman on Dad's crew. He knew they didn't have any fish on either the engine or the caboose so he didn't even pass the message back to the tail end, leaving my Dad and his tailend brakeman totally in the dark about what was going on.

At this point, I started thinking about the passenger train and what was going on with the engine crew trading off opposite the Engineers booking-in room at the Jct. No. 4's out-going engine crew was climbing up the ladder into the cab of the engine which is normal, but the incoming engineer and fireman were back at the doorway into the engine compartment of the engine which is not so normal. My uncle happened to be the Engineer on the in-coming passenger train.

The Fireman was passing down garbage bags which turned out to be bags of fish that my Uncle had obtained from the Natives at Boston Bar. This was going on right on the mainline and in plain view of everyone including the police, but their focus was not directed to anything on the passenger train. What turned out to be "the cab of the hotshot" wasn't the caboose of No. 420, but rather the Engine of No. 4.

My Mom ended up with a sockeye salmon to bake and I have to admit, this one did seem to taste especially good!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Standing In The Pouring Rain, Waitin' For A Train.

After a long, cold winter, the snow was finally being washed away by a steady rain that seemed to go on and on.  The sky hung low and heavy with dark grey clouds that stretched from horizon to horizon.  These clouds had taken their time traveling over the Pacific ocean and were laden with moisture by the time they got to the Rocky mountains, where they discharged their load before moving on to the prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The ground was still frozen, for the most part and wherever there were low spots on the ground, large puddles formed, making it necessary to take detours when walking anywhere in the rail yard.

It was springtime in Jasper and the trains were still backed up everywhere after record snow levels were reached in the mountains west of the foot hills.

During the worst of the winter conditions, crews had been forced to set out entire trains on line causing train orders to be issued to Conductors and Engineers that there were cars on sidings at various sidings along the Albreda subdivision.  Some of these sidings held one hundred or more cars for more than a week, and during that time blowing snow had buried the cars right up to the door sills.  When crews, engines, cabooses and time permitted, caboose hops would be sent out to retrieve one of these abandoned trains with orders to bring it to Jasper, or move it to Blue River for furtherance westward to the coast.

In many cases, the snow was packed so tightly under the cars that the crews had to break the cars out of the snow one, two or three at a time before taking a run at freeing the next car or cars.  Then, once all the cars had been broken free of the snow, the train had to be inspected to ensure that all of the friction bearing journals had sufficient lubricant in their boxes to allow them to run to the next service location.

Sometimes, the abandoned train might be shaken loose in a matter of a half hour or so, with another half hour to inspect and oil the journals; in other cases, it could take a few hours.  In either case, the main line would be tied up until the job was done and the rescued train was made ready to proceed.

On one particular morning in early March of 1966, I was called for the tail end brakeman's job on train 413.  The engineer was a gentleman named Lee Riuteman (Root-e-man) and the conductor was a gentleman suitably nick-named "The Village Idiot".  The regular tail end man, Guy Godbout had booked off, as he occasionally did during inclement weather.  I don't recall who the head end brakeman was.

413 was a westbound train that was usually carrying a bit of everything that might be classed as 'manifest freight.'  On this day, it had a mixed bag of goods including one tank car loaded with Liquid Petroleum Gas that had come into town placed right next to the caboose.

The yardmaster had brought 413 into town via the main line, expecting us to jump on board and get out of town before the passenger trains were due to arrive.

My esteemed conductor handed me a switch list that was marked up to have us set this tank car out to the west yard lead, where the yard engine would be waiting to take it from us.
This two way radio is similar to, but much smaller than the one I was using in today's story.

Portable radios, in those days were very large and many weighed as much as twenty five pounds with the extended use battery pack attached to the base of the thing.   There was a narrow web strap that carried the radio hung over your shoulder and around your neck.  This was going to be my "assistant" in the set off of the tank car as the head end man had climbed aboard the engine with Lee and the conductor hadn't finished impressing the crew office staff with his bright smile and neatly pressed blue denim jeans and jacket.

The dispatcher had been tied up putting out train orders with "meets" and "run-lates" on the eastbound super Continental passenger train and the Rupert Rocket as well, that were overdue at Jasper.
2nd Engineer Bob Milne detraining.  Engineer D. P. McLeod at the throttle.
This photo, submitted by Glen Brosinski is of CNR's "Rupert Rocket" that ran between Jasper and Prince Rupert, BC

As well, the last of #872's scheduled trains and the first of #868's schedule were enroute between Redpass and Jasper, with the first of them being overtaken at Yellowhead by the number 10, The Rupert Rocket.  The second eastbound freight was heading in at Lucerne to clear number 2, but had been delayed getting the switch thawed out, so the tail end brakeman had to be sent out to flag the passenger train and hold him until the freight train could get into the siding at Lucerne.

This photo, submitted by James Brown shows an eastbound CNR freight train rolling through Rainbow, BC
Note the green flags mounted on the top right and top left corners of the cab.  The small green lights above
the number boards are also illuminated.  This tells us that the train is running on a freight schedule and could be a section of either 868, 870, or 872.  Westward trains, other than regularly scheduled trains, i.e.,  the Super Continental would carry white flags and lights.

The only trains left on the Edson sub, between Jasper and Edson were the Jasper Auxiliary (Big Hook) and a west bound potash train that had derailed at Medicine Lodge when the train stalled trying to leave the siding through a spring switch.  The engineer backed the train up to 'take the slack', causing a loaded potash car to split the spring switch and turn sideways before tipping over, blocking the main line and the siding.  It would be several hours before that mess would be cleared up.

As I said, the dispatcher was busy putting out train orders, and he hadn't gotten around to getting us cleared yet.  My conductor and the General Yardmaster on duty at the time decided that it would be in order for us to set out the car to the yard, using Yard Limits between Jasper and Wynd to protect the train against all eastbounds except First Class trains, which included number two and number 10.

Reluctantly, Engineer Riuteman agreed to pull out into 'no man's land' (as far as passenger trains were concerned) just long enough for us to set out the car next to the caboose.  He wasn't pleased about it, but he went.

By now, we were all aware that a jackpot was developing.  The passengers would be in town, looking for a track to stop in and we were still sitting on the main line with 120 cars, three locomotives and a caboose.

Using my assigned 25 pound radio, I called Lee and told him we were ready to pull out as soon as the dispatcher could arrange for the CTC signal off the main to take us westward.

Soon, the dispatcher in Edmonton, who was responsible for this signal and the west switch at Jasper, lined the switch and cleared the signal for westward movement.

Lee began to pull on the train, but not before reminding me that if we had to pull the entire train out to set out this rear end car, he would be beyond the Yard Limit Board and, therefore outside his jurisdiction to proceed beyond that point.  I argued that it would only be for a couple of  minutes and that with ABS in service, any eastbound train would be moving expecting to stop at the approach signal which was beyond the Yard Limit Board.  All's good, right?

As the train pulled away from the station, I walked up to the power switch at the west end of the yard.  The conductor said he'd come out of the station long enough to cut the caboose off in front of the office, then wait for me to bring the train back to the caboose after setting off the car.

The rain came down harder until anything laying more than a hundred feet away became just an illusion.  The raindrops hit the ground and splashed in the great puddles of water creating a streaming ground fog that made me even wetter.

The yard engine pulled up onto the lead, but kept back far enough that it would be impossible for me to ask them for a hand setting out the car.

The radio strap was digging deep into my shoulder muscles as cold water ran down my back.

The conductor got the caboose cut off on the main and I coaxed the car over the switch using the radio.  Once stopped west of the switch, I walked over to the dispatchers phone and called Edmonton for permission to copy a Rule 266 authority to take the switch off power and set this damned car off on top of the yard engine.

NOTE:  This clip from the 1962 Uniform Code of Operating Rules quotes Rule 266, which gives a train or engine permission to use a dual control switch on "hand throw" and to pass stop signals at the location specified.  See quote below;

266. A train or engine may be given exclusive occupancy of a track or tracks within specified limits and specified times to perform switching or other work when authorized by the train dispatcher in the following manner: "(train or engine) may use (track or tracks) between ... and ... (or at ...) ...m until ...m"
When requesting track and time limits, employee will give his name, occupation, location, train or engine number and specify time and work limits and track or tracks to be used. When such authority is granted, the instructions must be in writing and repeated to the train dispatcher before being acted on, and no movement may be made under this rule until the engineman has been advised and understands the track and time limits granted.

After the train or engine has entered the limits specified, the train dispatcher must block all levers controlling signals governing movements into such limits at Stop and must not remove lever blocks nor permit any other train or engine to enter the limits until track and time limits have expired unless the train or engine is reported clear or the track or tracks specified.
During the period track and time limits are authorized, the train or engine may use the track or tracks specified in either direction without flag protection.

The train or engine must be clear or the track or tracks specified, switches restored to normal position before expiration of the time specified, and the train dispatcher so advised. If not clear by the time specified, protection must be provided as prescribed by Rule 99. If additional time is required, authority must be secured from the train dispatcher before previously authorized time expires.

The pad of blank forms that were usually available in the phone box had become soaked by the rainwater that had been streaming down the inside of the phone box just like it was streaming down my drenched back.

I tried to write down the dispatchers instructions on the inside of the plywood box, but my pencil broke..., so I decided to 'wing it'.  He caught me out on it and began to chastise me.

I let him have it for a full minute.

He calmed down and, together we got it done.

I walked back to the switch and shoved my cold, wet hands into my jacket pockets to find my switch keys.  After another frantic couple of minutes, I found my key on a leather thong, attached to a belt loop on my soaked, clinging jeans.

I bent over to unlock the two handles on the switch, at which point the hundred pound radio swung out of control, leaving my shoulder and scraping my leg all the way to my ankle.

I gave it a bit of a kick, then looked around to see who might have seen my act of desperation.

The Trainmaster was sitting in his car at the crossing, about fifty feet away.  His window was rolled down and he was looking at me ... shaking his head slowly.

I unlocked the switch and released the "power" handle, swinging it into the 'unlocked' position.  Then I took the switch point lever and worked it back and forth until the switch points began to move.  I lined the switch for movement toward the yard and picked up the radio from the puddle in which it had been laying.

By this time, the working channel was clogged with radio traffic. Two passenger trains were attempting to pass two freight trains and Lee Riuteman was trying to defend himself against a fleet of oncoming trains, the location of which he couldn't be sure.

It was very difficult, but we got the car handed off to the stupid yard engine and we were back out on the main, ready to back up toward the caboose.

There was one small job left to do and that was to line the power switch, get Lee moving eastward again and put the power switch back on power so the dispatcher could use it again.  Putting it back on power was fairly simple.  All I had to do was wait until the leading wheels of the leading truck had moved onto the switch points and then swing the short "power" handle back from the 'hand throw position' to the 'power position'.

Then, I would walk the tail end back to the caboose, make the joint and cut in the air.  After that, Lee would back the train up until the engine was in front of the office where our clearance and orders would be waiting for us.

However...., when I bent over to reach for the Power handle, the bloody radio came swinging around, crunching into my left knee while the web strap around my neck tore at the skin on my back.

With rainwater streaming down my face, and the train coming back slowly, I grabbed for the handle and threw it for all I was worth.

But I had grabbed the wrong handle.  The switch machine began to whine and the points began to move.  I tried to grab the other handle and swing it back to a 'power off' mode, but I missed it.

The leading wheels were now going toward the yard and the trailing wheels were going toward the main line.

Frantically, I tried to get Lee on the radio ... yelling for him to 'Plug 'er', to stop the train in emergency...any thing other than what was happening in front of my eyes.

But the cars kept on coming, and the tail end car kept on going farther sideways  until it finally flopped over, putting the train into an emergency brake application.

I stood, shocked at what had just happened.  The entire scenario was now running through my mind..., all at once.

I guess the same thoughts were running through the Train Master's mind too as I heard his car door slam behind me.

Train Master Stan McCabe said "Don't bother trying to explain what you did here today".   "I want to see you in my office first thing in the morning and I don't know what you're going to tell me, but I don't want to hear you tell me what I actually saw happening here."

Lee called me, wanting to know what had just happened.  I had to tell him that we were derailed and had a car on its side on the main line.  With his lead locomotive standing beyond the yard limit sign, he sent the head end brakeman out to flag eastbound trains that were on their way towards Jasper.

The next morning, as Mr. McCabe and I sat on crates in the Express Shed, he with his typewriter on his lap and me with my hands shoved deep into my pockets, he asked the usual questions and I gave the usual answers.  At least until we got to the part where I had to have some sort of a story to give him.

Recalling his warning that I shouldn't tell him what actually happened, I told him that I had done everything according to the book, but when I put the switch back on power, it lined itself under the car, sending one half down the main and the other half into the yard.

I thought my story was pretty water tight, but I received ten demerits for my trouble, and learned that it does no good to tell a fib to a man who has five times more experience on the job than you do.


I've been asked to explain how the mess was cleaned up after the car derailed on the switch.

The Train Master sent me immediately to his office, where I remained for some time.  While I was inside the station, the derailed car was either pulled or pushed away from the tracks.   Since the derailment occurred at a very low rate of speed, there was no damage to the track, the signals, or the switch.  413 was backed into the yard and the yard crew pulled the caboose off the main line and shoved it into the yard as well.  

We did complete the trip to Blue River, but not until after all the backed up traffic had been cleared.

All in all, the delay to the passenger and freight trains on the Albreda sub was not severe, and for this reason, neither was the discipline I received.