Split PersonalityI was called for 6:00am on duty at Sheridan on June 15, 2001 for the H-KCKPAS. We had a fairly decent trip for the first 75 miles to Dunmore, MT. There we headed into the siding. A ribbon rail steel gang was laying the last few quarter mile strings of the 26 miles of rail they replaced between Sheridan and Anita over the last two months. They had to get it done today, period. It was Friday and they had to load their machines onto the MOW flat cars before going home. The machines and men were needed elsewhere on the system on Monday morning. A work train with their flat cars waited for them in the siding at Rowley.
After the gang finished we waited for an eastbound coal empty to come across the 40 miles from Anita. It had the BNSF 9297 in the lead. This unit is the one that received the two experimental original BNSF paint schemes. Two? Yes, each side was painted slightly differently. I read someplace that the blue stripes had been removed but that is not true. You can still see the blue in this photo. After the empties passed we got the green to depart. We had been there five hours and 45 minutes. Oh I was thrilled.
Plastic C44'sWhile departing the Laurel roundhouse at sunrise on June 16th I saw two brand new C44s. They now have one piece molded plastic bodies just like the HO gauge models. The plastic even has that same primer grey color like the "undecorated" versions of the model locos. (Yes I am joking, they are not really plastic of course). Here is BNSF 5318 in "stealth mode" just seconds after sunrise.
Morning GlowFifteen minutes later that same morning I was backing two C44s up the lead at the bottom-of-the-eastboundin Laurel Yard to get on our train, the V-PTLKCM. This lead confuses every new conductor I get. Each switch on the lead goes to two yard tracks. There is a second "inner" switch just clear of each lead switch. The stands for these inner switches are on the outside of the lead in line with all the others.
The snowy Beartooth Mountains are in the background. They had just received two feet of snow two days earlier. It may be mid-June down here but winter is not over yet in the high country.
The track on the left is the lead to BNSF's Laurel ribbon rail welding plant.
The sun had just risen and was shining directly up the switch lead. It brilliantly illuminated all the reflective material on the switch stands and locos.
Knuckle GardenOur former Road Foreman of Engines kept a "knuckle garden" just outside the door to his depot office. Each knuckle has the milepost location where it was broken painted on it . Apparently it was too much work to drag in any broken drawbars. The knuckle garden is still there so apparently it is also too much like work for the new RFE's to haul it away. And before anybody asks... no, none of them are mine.
Update note: After being there several years, the knuckle garden was finally removed in early July, 2001.
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