Tales From The Cab !

watash Feb 18, 2001

  1. Gregg Mahlkov

    Gregg Mahlkov Guest

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    Watash, re: your covered hopper story. Can you think of a better way to feed "rustled" cattle than with "rustled" feed? :D :D
     
  2. BN9900

    BN9900 TrainBoard Member

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    Howdy Ya'll, well you are welcome for the stories, I've had to keep my mouth shut about that ride since they were all puttin' their jobs on the line to get us that ride. But 4 years later there's no problem in relating that story now [​IMG]

    [ 21 June 2001: Message edited by: BN9900 ]
     
  3. BN9900

    BN9900 TrainBoard Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by BN9900:
    Howdy Ya'll, well you are welcome for the stories, I've had to keep my mouth shut about that ride since they were all puttin' their jobs on the line to get us that ride. But 4 years later there's no problem in relating that story now [​IMG]

    [ 21 June 2001: Message edited by: BN9900 ]
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Should have read jobs not lives
     
  4. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    I appologize for not feeling like much right now. My heart and thoughts go out to Tim Marletter's family. We had become good e-mail friends, since we were so close to the same age. I will miss his humor and friendship.
     
  5. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Pat, thanks for publishing the news of Tim Marletter's passing. If you know any of his family, please pass our condolences along to them. I enjoyed his posts here on Trainboard. :(
     
  6. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Sorry to hear about Tim's passing. My condolences to his family, and all his friends. :(

    Where can we send sympathy cards, or a note?
     
  7. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    I'm sorry guys, I have missplaced T.K.'s address. I just replied to his, so evidently didn't copy it down.
     
  8. Benny

    Benny TrainBoard Member

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    I'm just choked up...RIP
     
  9. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    There are getting less and less of the old time steam engineers left. They told us a few of the tales the younger fellows enjoyed so much, but many more tales and data is being lost each time one of us passes.

    Maybe we can encourage all of you young or old, to tell us of the happenings on the real railroads, so the information can live on for those who follow.

    Any more interest?
     
  10. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    Lead on, Watash! Where do we start?
     
  11. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Well, back in the early depression days when there were no jobs after 1929, the Hobos began to see an increase in "Jumpers". Hobos were a breed of people, both men and a few women who were dissabled WW I vets and others that wandered the country aimlessly, many lived on trains. Trains were their home, their transportation, and livelihood. "Jumpers" were people who had lost everything, and were dissolutioned with life in general. When odd bits of work for food, hand-outs, and cold hearted folks closed up the towns, these people began to take to the railroad box cars to travel to another place to try their luck. Some of the jumpers were so desperate, they became dangerous.

    They gained the nickname "Jumper" when they began jumping other riders, some of whom were old line Hobos, affectionately known as "Knights of the Rails" by some conductors. The railroads had not had enough trouble from hobos to bother until the Jumpers started ruining everything.

    Jumpers formed into groups to break into loaded box cars, stealing anything that could be traded for food to begin with, then it developed into real loosely organized crime. This caused the railroads to protect themselves. There have been numbers of books, even some movies glorifying the "hobos", some with now famous nicknames.

    The Jumpers were not Hobos, although there were a very few who had been Hobos. They were out and out criminals, and threrfore, censored. Almost no news was allowed regarding their activities.

    The Conductors were the original railroad police, in that it was the Conductor's train, just like the Captian was responsible for his ship, and carried the same authority. There were some very ruthless Conductors, who had taken their responsibility to the point of being the judge, jury, and sometimes the executioner on their trains after being robbed repeatedly.

    The Centeral Pacific had one known as the "Spike", the Union Pacific had "Axehandle Charlie", and the other roads had their own Conductors who vowed to rid their routes of this "Vermin of the rails". Quite often the conductor who had given a ride and handout to some Hobos in the past, now turned against anyone who tried to ride his train. During the few years of the late 20' and early 30's it was common practice to simply throw people off moving trains when found. Rarely did any mention of a "Hobo" hit the news unless it involved someone or something spectacular. When it did, the reporter usually printed Hobo, when in truth it was a Jumper.

    Several Hobos were found frozen to death when they climbed up on the deck between the tender and the boiler of Southern Pacific's big cab foreward engines that climbed over the mountains in the dead of winter. Hobo camps used to be rather safe places where hobos would congregate and swap experiences, catch up on the news of railroads that would look the other way if you just wanted to ride, and made no trouble, and those that would kill you on site. Sometimes kids could sit and listen to their tales in fastenation for hours. Today, the kid would not be at all safe.

    There were a number of tales: "Axehandle" had walked up behind someone sitting on top of a box car and split the head open with his axe handle, only to find it had been some woman who didn't know it was foolish to sit on the top of a moving box car at night. She had run away from home, pregnant, she wasn't married, and it was her first train ride. When her body was found, the town folks never susspected the railroad, only the hobos knew.

    "Spike" had a movie made about him based on his method of knocking someone off who was "riding the Rods". It is believed that the expression "to Knock Off" some one came from this practice. You see, box cars were wooden and would sag under load, so steel rods were run under the floor from end to end and tightened with turnbuckles to strengthen the floor. These rods were looped over steel stantions that provided the force to warp the floor upwards. This gave enough space for a man to lay a couple of boards across these rods and lay on the rods during his ride. There was no way to reach this guy while the train was moving, but "Spike" developed a method that was quite effective.

    In those days the couplers were still link and pin, the knuckle type just being under development. This pin or "spike" as sometimes called, was about 16" long made out of 1-1/2 to 1-3/4" diameter steel bar with a handle on one end.

    Spike tied one of these steel pins to a small rope and lowered the pin down between the rails and let it drag along bouncing over the ties. As he paydout the rope, the spike would bounce along hitting the car floor, rails, ties, and anything in between with terrible force, enough to break a leg or arm. Of course the rider had no where to go, so was killed, either when struck in the head by the spike, or when he fell between the rails and got ground up under the wheels. Then one rider was able to grab the rope and cut it. This so infuriated "Spike" that he tied an eight foot piece of cable to the spike, then his rope to the cable. Word went around fast, and riders dissapeared except the one timers. It was estimated he cleaned off about a hundred this way, until one night he was found run over by his own train. It is speculated he had started his spike under a car when all the sudden his spike must have bounced under a wheel or over an axel and pulled his hand off. He must have lost his hold and fell between the rails. They found his hand still tied to the rope, and the spike and part of the cable alongside the tracks not far away.

    When the railroad police began, they simply shot the people they found, and closed all box car doors. It wasn't safe in gondolas, or on flats, you were just a fish in a barrel there, and were systematically shot, or you took your chances and jumped off. One guy jumped, or was thrown off. His body was found the next morning tangled in a crossing gate.

    There are still people who try to ride the cars today, but it is more dangerous now. There are no longer all the hand holds there were back then. Even if they live to arrive, they are usually caught and some are deported, a few don't make it out of the yards alive the second or third time.
     
  12. Rule 281

    Rule 281 TrainBoard Member

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    If you've looked around the net, you've seen the websites advocating 'train-hopping' as a viable mode of transportation even today, long after the golden age of the Hobos. It's still an incredibly dangerous way to get around (not to mention illegal)but people are still at it.
    I've seen a few 'riders' but the one that sticks in my mind was a guy that hopped my consist on a freezing cold night a couple of years ago. We were working a local that turned at the end of it's run and went back to it's original terminal so for a train hopper, it was a train to nowhere. That didn't bother this nut. We got to the end of the line and I was swapping operating units on our 4 engines to run around the train and head the other way. After I cut out the leader, I started back in the dark through the units to get on the other end. As I opened the door to the second engine, I tripped over a set of feet attached to a very drunk individual snoozing peacefully and soundly on the floor of the warm cab. I'm not sure who was more suprised when we collided, him or me but he woke up with a snort and we spent the next minute or two wondering to each other in loud voices, "Who the hell are you and what the hell are you doing here?!" Fortunately, the conductor came along and now outnumbered, our passenger subsided. He allowed as how he'd gotten on when we stopped at a crossing and "...just wanted a little train ride before the drunk wore off." Well, for lack of any alternative, we left him where he was with a warning not to touch anything and orders to get off at the same place he got on when we went by it again or get taken off by the cops. I stopped for the crossing just about at dawn and saw him step down and stagger off into the snowy bushes. I never saw him again so he probably either jumped a train actually going somewhere or wound up in the county 'hotel' for the winter. Either way, it sure was a weird feeling to trip over somebody in that dark engine. That was the last thing I was expecting and since then I usually carry a fat Mag-Lite, just in case the next one is less agreeable. :eek:
     
  13. E&NRailway

    E&NRailway TrainBoard Member

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> In those days the couplers were still link and pin, the knuckle type just being under development. This pin or "spike" as sometimes called, was about 16" long made out of 1-1/2 to 1-3/4" diameter steel bar with a handle on one end. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Umm, that's not true, knuckle couplers were developed in the late 19th century, they were in widespread use by the 1920's.

    [ 06 July 2001: Message edited by: E&NRailway ]
     
  14. Gregg Mahlkov

    Gregg Mahlkov Guest

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    Link and pin couplers were outlawed on freight cars used in interchange service before 1900, by 1896, I believe.

    Got a story for y'all, but it concerns a PCC trolley motorman. It wasn't funny to him, but I was ROTFLMAO.

    In 1957, between my junior and senior years of high school, bought a ticket on the B&O from NY to Detroit and made swiss cheese out of it. On the last leg, I stopped in Philadelphia and went north to ride the Willow Grove trolley line, which served the Willow Grove amusement park and was to a great extent on private r-o-w. No problem getting there, but on the way back, as we approached a major highway grade crossing coming down a steep hill I noticed we weren't slowing down. The car out had stopped before crossing the highway. If you remember PCC's, they had single seating down the "curb" side in front and I was in the second seat, so had a good view. We rolled about 200 feet beyond the crossing and stopped. When we attempted to start up - nothing.

    After much head scratching, the motorman removed a panel and found a blown fuse. He replaced it and we started up. As soon as we reached the next car stop, we coasted past it as the fuse blew as soon as the brakes were applied. The motorman had only one spare, so he waited for the next car to show up, which was outbound. he got its fuse and off we went again. He forgot about why the fuse blew and braked for the next carstop with the same result.

    This time, we had to wait until the following car showed up. He gave our motorman a new fuse and suggested very strongly he not stop to try to pick anyone else up. Off we went and the motorman started to feel pretty cocky as the speed increased until we reached a sharp curve in the deep woods. He had to brake, with the same result! This time, we stopped just at the end of the curve. Sure enough, the following car showed up a few minutes later and certainly did not expect to find us stopped in the woods nowhere near a carstop. The impact was quite soft, propelling the stopped car about three feet!

    The two motormen stepped outside to exchange insults and after their tempers cooled they figured replaced fuses wouldn't cut it and it was the rear truck brake system that was shorting out. They disconnected the rear truck and asked anyone not going all the way back to the beginning of the line at the subway terminal to get into the second car or the third car, which had shown up by this time. So off we went back toward Philadelphia.

    We did not stop to pick up any more passengers and rode along fairly well until we left private r-o-w and ended up in the median strip of a boulevard. Now, unlike New Orleans, Philadelphia did NOT mow this median strip, so it was like riding in a wheat field. The motorman kept some sort of a trip record in a leather folder about 3 in. by 8 in. The day had gotten warmer, so he opened the window beside him a little more and shoved his trip record book right out the window!
    Ever try to find a wallet in 3 foot tall grass peppered with trash from passing automobiles? By the time the book was found there were four cars behind us and there were five motormen looking.

    When we reached the subway terminal the supervisor, wearing an old Conductor type hat, was standing there with his hands on his hips. The fact that there were women aboard the car did not restrain his language nor his derogation of the religious persuasion of the motorman. He grabbed him by the collar and hauled him into the office. A couple of minutes later, the motorman came out with the supervisor following. When the hapless motorman reached the top of the steps, the supervisor kicked him in the seat and sent him sprawling down the steps.

    What would a good lawyer get for the motorman today? :eek: :D

    [ 07 July 2001: Message edited by: Gregg Mahlkov ]
     
  15. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    In trying to keep my story shorter, I failed to state that Spike had started using his coupling spike (pin) back when the link and pin was just going out of use, and a lot of them were still around. Spike was said to have died in the late 1890's or early 1900's.
     
  16. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Gregg, I vaguely remember seeing a pea green Steeple Cab MOW trolley in Wichita, come down the street, hook a bar onto one of the street cars, then tow it away. This happened out in front of S.G.Holmes & Son men's clothing store where my mother was the bookkeeper. They would not let us on the street car, so we watched, while waiting for the next street car to come along.

    That makes me wonder why didn't the following trolley, simply push the one with the blown fuse?

    My guess about the blown fuse, is the Motorman was throwing the rheostat into reverse as a means of slowing it down. Did they have air brakes back then, or were the brakes electric?

    Maybe they were mechanical? I do remember seeing a long lever the Motorman would push foreward just before he would go, then pull it back (I think after) we stopped. I would have thought it was just a "Parking" brake so the car didn't roll while people were getting on and off. But maybe he pulled it back just before we stopped. I'm not sure.
     
  17. Gregg Mahlkov

    Gregg Mahlkov Guest

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    Watash, the PCC car was originally designed in the 1930's by the Presidents' Conference Committee (hence PCC) of the Electric Railroads and Transit Companies. it had both air (electrically actuated) and electric track brakes. It did not have a controller, it had a pedal like a bus! And a brake pedal like a bus, too! The car that broke down was built after WW II. Since the line was on hills and had curves and the cars were not equipped with couplers (there was a socket for a tow bar on the anticlimber), one could not push the other. It was the repeated foulups that made the incident funny. :D
     
  18. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Yes, it was the foul-ups that were funny! And thanks for educating me about the PCC cars. It was he old red cars (Interurbans) and the down town street cars around 1933/34 that I remember seeing and riding as a little kid. Memory is growing dim Gregg, you help a lot! Thanks.

    I remember seeing the motorman lean out the window with a long tool and shift the switch point, and you are right, I have seen them tow the street cars, but have never seen one pushed. I do remember seeing the Motorman pull one catenary shoe down and tie it, then go raise the other one to go back the other way. The interurbans had a loud bell and you couldn't hear them coming until they rang that bell, then they were on you! They were scarey! Simpler times back then. :D
     
  19. RIHogger

    RIHogger E-Mail Bounces

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    I was wroking on the Rock Island and we were running from Des Moines Ia to Silvis Ill one day.
    We were running about 50 mph when we came around a curve and there were about 25 or 30 hogs on the
    track. We didn't have time to stop so we just plowed on through them. It sure made a mess all over the engine. It was about the end of July so you can imagine aroma by the end of the trip. Not a pretty sight!

    Gary
     
  20. watash

    watash Passed away March 7, 2010 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Gary, Thanks for stopping by! Did you have a chance to grab any hams? You know you had a close call! Was the Trainmaster hard to convince it was just pigs? :D

    Back in the days when buffalo roamed, the herds would stop a train. The "Cow Catcher" worked a little, but at speed the bodies built up against the front and stalled the engine out. One engineer got so frustrated, he shot a buffalo which stampeeded the whole herd. They promptly bowled the train over!

    [ 13 July 2001: Message edited by: watash ]</p>
     

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