Yard Engine Trip To KiewitToday we have to take six empty coal hoppers out to Kiewit. Kiewit is about 7 miles west of Sheridan. In years past there was a unit train loadout at Kiewit and an older 5 track coal tipple. (See my KrugTale of Kiewit for further information). Now all that is left of the once bustling coal operations along the main line west of Sheridan is a truck dump coal transloading facility. Like Schultz Coal in Sheridan yard, coal is trucked to this facility from strip mines in the Decker, Montana area. Also at Kiewit, Guernsey Stone operates the old ballast pit shipping decorative rock to landscapers around the country. The Sheridan yard engine services these industries at Kiewit as well as performing any work that needs to be done at Kleenburn or Ranchester farther west.
Below we are in front of the Sheridan depot waiting for the coal train on the main line to depart so we can follow it to Kiewit. The six empty hoppers are coupled on behind my switch engine. You can see in this photo how oily the top of the 3451's hood gets. It has a bad oil leak from worn cylinders and throws it all over the unit every morning after idling all night. I spend a lot of time wiping oil splatters off the windows.
The coal train has departed and we have pulled down to await our signal. The workmen are adding a stairway and other fall protection to the old Northern Pacific cantelever signal bridge at West Yard Sheridan. There is another one at East Sheridan CTC siding getting the same treatment. Because of this new safety requirement, the MRL cut down an identical cantelever at East Huntley this summer and replaced it with trackside post signals.
The checker patterned board in the photo is a solar cell power panel for the number 1-2 yard switch which was equipped with a push button electric switch this summer.
Below we are bobbing and bouncing highballing at track speed on the main at Kiewit. The coal cars on the right are at the truck dump we are headed for. We will proceed about one mile further west to the west switch of the old unit train loadout track to access the truck dump. The signal boxes ahead on the left at the top of the hill mark the electric locked switch which leads off to the left to the ballast pit.
I have stopped at the west switch at Kiewit and have cut away from the six empties hoppers we brought from Sheridan. I will run the engine into the old loadout track and the crew will then roll the empties past this switch so we can get them on the other end of the locomotive. The string of coal cars in the distance on the left is our destination. On the right is the ballast pit track.
Below: Approaching the truck dump. The weeds have just about taken over the old unit train loadout track that we are moving on. The main line is on the top of the slope on the right.
Above we have cut away from the six empties and are preparing to enter the truck dump track. We will couple onto the loads and pull all ten cars out (6 loads and 4 empties). We will then shove these 10 cars onto six empties, pick them up, pull ahead again, then shove all 16 cars back up into the truck dump, spotting the first empty. We will hold onto the 6 loads as we pull out of the truck dump. Below, on a different day, we have just coupled onto the loads at the truck dump.
After spotting the empties and holding onto the loads we will shove them back down the old loadout to the west switch. From the west switch we will run east on the main to the ballast pit switch. There we cut the six coal loads off on the main and go into the ballast track light engine to pick up four loads of rock.
The four loads of rock will be coupled to the six loads of coal, an air test will be made, and we will highball east for Sheridan. I won't bore you with all of the yard switching we do.
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