Crowded YardIt is not unusual to see 4 or 5 trains in Sheridan at one time. It can get mighty crowded considering that we only have 3 long tracks. The mainline, #1, and #2 yard tracks. There is also the Sheridan CTC siding ("coal siding") at the west end of the yard but it has two crossings so trains cannot sit in it for more than a few minutes without cutting them. And with the crossings cut many trains won't fit in the siding. To further clog up the works, many coal trains are too long for #1 and #2 so have to double over into a second or even third track. Track 3 is only about 3500 feet long and tracks 4 through 10 are each shorter than the one before. We usually have yard cars on at least three of the higher numbered tracks.
On a cloudy August 8, 2004 I took the above photo. On the left with the lights on are a set of helpers on the rear end of a coal train sitting on the main. The coal train is waiting for a V train to clear in the coal siding at the west end so it can depart westward. On #1 and #2 tracks next to the helpers are two eastbound coal empty trains waiting to depart. They all must wait for the eastbound V to clear so the coal train can depart off the main so an H-KCKPAS that is stopped east of the yard can come off the hill to follow the coal train down the main. In #4 track an M-BILDEN (the "local") is making a pickup to add to his train on #3 track. On #6 track is a 3 unit set of coal empty power that has tripled his train into three different tracks to park for several hours. Finally, in the distance on the right, a set of Sheridan helpers is being serviced (by the yellow truck) at the roundhouse. The photo shows five of the seven trains in Sheridan at that time. Right now would probably not be a good time for us on the switch engine to ask the dispatcher if we can go to Kiewit! We'll just keep out of the way until the smoke clears.
On a slightly sunnier October 13, 2004 I have stepped off my switch engine, the 3451 on the right, to snap this picture of the yard.
An M-LINLAU is entering the yard to go into #2 track. It has a 5600 ton pick-up to make when it gets to the west end of the yard. To assist it over the hills it will also pick-up an SD75/SD60M unmanned set of helpers from the roundhouse. The helpers will run on the point 115 miles to Anita where the M-LINLAU's crew will set them out on the backtrack for an eastbound to pick-up and bring back. When the LINLAU gets into 2 track we have to jump on his rear end and chuck out a high cube boxcar 8 deep destined for Wyoming Sawmills.
The warbonnet SD75 is the second unit of a helper set on the rear end of a coal train stopped on the mainline. The coal train is waiting for a returning light set of helpers to clear the west end of the yard.
The two green 9200s on #1 track are two of three matched SD60Ms on the point of a coal empty waiting for the M-LINLAU to clear so they can leave.
Rock Helpers?On October 12, 2004 in the photo below we are waiting on the old loadout track at the East Kiewit CTC control point for a westbound to go by. The dispatcher has let an eastbound set of light helpers out of the next control point to the west, East Ranchester, and allowed them to run to the west switch of the old loadout. The west switch is a hand-throw so the one-man helper had to line himself in then lock up behind him. After traveling the 2.5 miles through the loadout track the helper is now stopping behind us to await that same westbound. No I don't need any help to get from Kiewit to Sheridan with 4 cars of rock and my trusty SW1500. He will follow us on our block. Since we did not shove any cars out with us we did not bring our caboose this day.
Sheridan's "Fort Line"
October 4, 2004 finds me and my switch engine far up the Fort Line. The photo is looking behind us from the cab after we have shoved an empty gon for Zowada Brothers Scrap up the 4% grade. This line used to go another mile up the hill to the VA Hospital where we used to deliver cars of coal for the steam heating plant. The hospital switched to trucks two decades ago and now the Fort Line ends a few feet above Zowada's. It was quite a ride coming down from the fort, especially when the grass was over the rails.
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