Tales From The Krug
June 11, 2002
Copyright AA Krug

Hardin, Montana
Hardin at MP 784 was a train order station before CTC was installed through here in the mid 1980s. Train Order Operators were on duty around the clock in the depot which originally had a two position semaphore type train order signal out front. Towards the end of train order ops it was replaced with a modern tri-color light signal to allow differentiation between "19" and "31" type train orders. Then you could tell whether you had a "Red Board Meet" or hoop 'em up on the fly.

Train order meets of trains regularly took place at the Hardin siding. As CTC was being installed a new siding called Dunmore was built 8 miles east of Hardin. When the signals went into operation the train order sidings of Hardin and Crow Agency, which were not CTC'd, ceased to exist as far as meets were concerned. The Crow Agency siding 3 miles east of Dunmore was torn out. The Hardin siding, now just an industry track, was shortened to eliminate a highway crossing near the west end.

To allow the grain elevators to load 54 car unit grain trains the east end of the siding was re-arranged. The siding was cut about 600 feet in from the east switch and curved over to connect onto the elevator track. The 600 ft stub of the east end of the siding was left to store track equipment and for a place to set out bad order cars. It is now know as Shocky's Spur named after a long time train order operator and agent at Hardin. So now the siding actually is the elevator track for the first several hundred feet before it curves back over to its original alignment. That configuration gives the elevator operators a tail track on the east end which allows their Track-Mobile to move 6 loaded cars at a time from the elevator track to the old siding. Nine times of that and they have a 54 car unit train ready to be picked up.

Hardin from a westbound in winter.

Hardin from a westbound in summer.

On June 11, 2002 we were called for 1430 at Laurel, Montana for the M-BILDEN, our "local". The power was an SD75 and two SD40-2s. The SD75, BNSF 8253, had just been painted in H2 and still stunk like fresh paint. The train was relatively small at only 3400 feet but it included 10 loaded tank cars for the Cenex plant on the North Line at Hardin, MT.

We departed Laurel at 1610. An hour and a half later while approaching Rowley the dispatcher said there was an EB empty coal train about 40 minutes behind us. She wanted to know if we wanted to wait at Rowley for it to run around us or if we could go to Hardin and get in the clear on the old train order siding there. We elected to go to Hardin.

At Hardin I stopped just west of the depot at the east switch to drop off the conductor then pulled the train past the switch. He opened the switch and I backed the train into the clear.

Good ol' Laurel yard had put two Sheridan empty coal cars on the point of our train instead of having the ten Hardin tank cars first out. So we had to set the ten tanks over to the elevator track then set the two hoppers back onto our train then pick up the tanks.

After that we pulled the power and tanks out onto the main and closed the siding switch behind us. I backed up the 3 units and 10 cars to pick up my conductor. We proceeded eastward about a half mile to the North Line switch. He lined us onto the North Line and I pulled into the clear so he could close the switch behind. Since we had first stopped at Hardin it had taken us 30 minutes to do all that. As my conductor walked up to the head end to get the derail in front of us I snapped this picture from the SD75.

Since the Cenex track is a facing point switch we had to run the power around the tanks before shoving them out the branch to Cenex. We pulled up the North Line about a mile and cut the tanks off on the "main" between switches of the stock track. A farmer has a steel gate across the track at this location. After opening the gate we backed the power through the stock track to get behind the tank cars. We then proceeded to shove the tanks the remaining mile or so up the North Line to Cenex.

At Cenex we shoved the tanks up the "main" and left 5 of them there. The other 5 we spotted at the Cenex rack. Each car has to be spotted separately so the filler pipes will reach the domes. The cars of hot asphalt will be unloaded, the plant will mix fibers and ground up old tires into it, then the cars will be re-loaded. Loads in and loads out.

This picture shows the 5 extra loads on the "main" at the left and the other 5 loads spotted at the rack on the right.

After spotting the rack my conductor walked to the last of our units to ride it back towards the Bighorn Sub main. Here is a view looking into my mirror as we prepare to leave the Cenex plant.


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Created 06-11-2002
Updated 06-13-2002