Derailments I Have KnownMost of my own derailments have, thankfully, been of a somewhat less spectacular nature.
For four years I attended college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. During that time I worked the paper mills switch engine at Middletown, Ohio on the Penn Central. It went to work at 11:59pm and usually got an early quit. It had Tuesdays and Wednesdays off so by scheduling my first college classes after about 10:00am on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays I could work this job and still make my classes.
The usual power was a 600 HP SW-1 built in 1939. That little pony would pull 30 or 40 cars from the yard to the mills downtown. Occasionally when it was in for inspection we would have to use something bigger, like an SW9. Just about every time we did we derailed it. Especially if it happened to be equipped with roller bearings.
Most Penn Central track was bad but this job had some of the worst. We would put cars on the ground 2 or 3 times a night sometimes. If it was just an axle or two or three we would chuck some oak blocks and oak wedges under the wayward wheels and pull them right back onto the rails. Here is an easy one. Middletown, OH June 1969.
Sometimes we had to call for help. Especially when we got 5 to 15 cars on the ground at once. Or if a one car derailment was worse than just some wheels falling off the rail. Middletown, OH May 1970.
If the locomotive derailed it was a bit harder to get it back up than cars. For one thing it doesn't have much traction with the drivers in the dirt. Franklin, Ohio in November, 1968. Six of the eight wheels are on the ground. You can see by the wooden blocks laying around that we tried but she just would not pull herself up onto the rails.
Even a slow speed yard derailment can scare the bejeebers out of you. This one nearly caused my 21 year old heart to stop. I was backing onto the bridge at about 10 mph when the rail overturned and the loco dropped to the bridge ties. Bouncing along on the ties of a bridge with the loco headed for the edge is not very re-assuring. In one swift movement I was up and heading out the cab door big holing the air as I went. I was just about to jump onto the bridge deck when she stopped. It is at least 30 feet from the bridge to the creek and I had no intentions of going down with her. Middletown, OH April 1970.
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