Conductor/engineer stories

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Conductor/engineer stories

Postby Ryno91 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:15 am

Hey guys I thought I'd add a topic to crazy stories you have seen from checking pushers and finding people or to finding people in cars. Or anything crazy you might have seen let's see some stories!
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Re: Conductor/engineer stories

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:04 pm

I have a few hobo stories. One night I was engineer on a coal train from Galesburg to LaCrosse. We changed crews on the passenger main. I went through the power to check inspection cards. There was a guy on the third unit. He took off. Near daybreak we were on the double iron coming close to LaCrosse. Someone on another train spotted him on a coal car about 20 back. While we were pulling out, he must have grabbed a handle and went high.

Another time I was the conductor on a grain train to Peoria. For some reason we had some miscellaneous cars mixed in the train. Galesburg didn't want to switch out. Instead, they gave me a brakeman. We switched them into a siding, and picked them up on the way home.

The brakeman said he thought he saw someone near the end of the train. Our marker didn't come in when we were back together, so I volunteered to walk back to push the button, and restart the transmitter. There was a Hispanic guy sitting under a car. He said,"Meester does thees term go to Cheecago?" I told him that we were headed the wrong way, and he wandered off.

I could write a novel about passengers on the dinkies.
"Welcome all ye who enter; the show that never ends. Tingfield Sperminal Railway." (Graffiti on the entry to Mohawk Yard Office)
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Re: Conductor/engineer stories

Postby jogden » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:16 pm

Hobos will just about make you jump out of your skin if you're not expecting them. I found my first one as a new hire conductor on BNSF. I told my engineer I'd check the cards and out the locomotives online for him as I walked back to kick brakes. I came in through the nose of the second unit and found an older lady sitting in the Brakeman's seat. She looked as surprised to see me as I was to see her! I think she had been asleep before I walked in. She immediately started apologizing and started to get up. I wasn't sure what to do, so I went back to talk to the engineer. He told me he would take care of it, and I went to kick brakes.

When I got back to the head end, I asked the engineer what he had done about the unexpected passenger in the second unit. He said he told her not to touch anything, showed her where the bottled water was, and told her to have a good trip! I was a little surprised by that, but figured he was far more experienced than I was. That was the only time I found a hobo in the cab, but I've seen quite a few in and on freight cars. I'd have to be pretty desperate to ride a freight car somewhere, they're not exactly comfortable!
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Re: Conductor/engineer stories

Postby Freddy » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:02 pm

When I worked a section gang back in the 70s you'd see guys walking the tracks. We'd take up a collection that maybe amounted to a few bucks and wished them on their way. Me nor anybody else before or after that time ever gave Bo's a hard time. We all felt that most folks including ourselves are just a few steps away from a big fall, given the right circumstances,so why tempt fate. That engineer did the right and decent thing. You new guys take note, doin the right thing sometimes ain't doin the right thing.
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Re: Conductor/engineer stories

Postby jogden » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:32 am

Freddy wrote:That engineer did the right and decent thing. You new guys take note, doin the right thing sometimes ain't doin the right thing.


I agree completely. That woman didn't hurt anything at all by being there. Putting her out would almost certainly have been much worse for her, it was February in eastern Montana and the mercury was at a balmy -5 that day. Who knows what would have happened to her out there.
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Re: Conductor/engineer stories

Postby Gadfly » Mon May 12, 2014 9:34 am

jogden wrote:
Freddy wrote:That engineer did the right and decent thing. You new guys take note, doin the right thing sometimes ain't doin the right thing.


I agree completely. That woman didn't hurt anything at all by being there. Putting her out would almost certainly have been much worse for her, it was February in eastern Montana and the mercury was at a balmy -5 that day. Who knows what would have happened to her out there.


NS had an entirely different approach toward hobos/transients, after a lawsuit over a kid that went out onto a trestle and got run down. The resulting publicity and the skewering they received from the press, infuriated the company. We were told to "NOTIFY YOUR SUPERVISOR AT ONCE!!! This was even if someone was spied walking along the RoW. "This ain't no G**** highway"!

I was bookin' cars way down in the back of the old Southern Yard in Charlotte, NC. "S'bout 2 or so in the morning. I was standing next to an MTY boxcar, and the door was open. I was writing down the next car, when a deep voice suddenly shattered my serenity, "Hey Buddy, ya got a light?"

I yelled out, "AAAAAAK", for it almost scared me to death. I 'bout threw away a lantern, a switchlist and a radio all in the same move! :-D

The fellow was actually very apologetic, and I gave him a light, and he disappeared back into the dark depths of that box car. My knees didn't stop shaking 'til I got back to the yard office. I did report that there was a "trespasser' in the old Norfolk & Southern yard.

It was a common thing to see shadows and people out in the yards. Some were railroaders, others had no business there at 3 AM. Most meant us no harm, a few others................well, it could be dangerous out there.

One late afternoon, a really sweet, but ditsy, clerk burst into the yard office. She was out of breath and white as a ghost.

"What's wrong, Betty?, we asked

She stood there panting for a spell, trying to get her breath.

Then she told us she had gone out to book an ADM "feed cut" when all of a sudden, here comes a fellow running at full tilt, brushing against her and causing her to stagger. He almost knocked her down as he made haste across the ballast, hopping up and across a cut of pig flats, disappearing thru lines of cars on the other side. Suddenly, here comes another rough-looking dude in hot pursuit with a knife in one hand and a gun in the other!!!!! :( He, too, brushes past her, hops onto an RTTX flat, and hotfoots it out of sight, with Betty standing there in shocked disbelief. All this happened in just a few seconds, but it didn't take her that long to decide to get the hell out of Dodge!!!! Them feed cuts COULD WAIT!!!! :-D

We, of course, reported the weapons incident to the RR police by radio. Drug activity was rife in the yards due to the vastness of the yard and the ability to hide amongst the cars.

There were lots of 'hobo" incidents that I remember. I saw people just riding because they thought it was "an adventure", a thrill, others down on their luck, trying to escape, even families with children. A few, I acted as I didn't see them and let 'em alone.

Here's one final one, one that wasn't exactly pleasant, and it illustrates why you should not, nor does the RR want you to, hobo trains. I was working the 8 PM Porter's job, and coming in one Sunday evening, my first duty was to get a mop, a bucket. soap, and some rags. An incident had just happened, and it was for ME to clean it up. The ambulance had just left, carrying a hapless "hobo" to the emergency room. There was blood everywhere! On the yard office floor where the guy came in pleading for help, in the baggage room where he first entered, and a trail of blood all the way up the landing to the old Mail Room! YUCK! Here's what happened: The hobo hopped off a southbound train in Charlotte, tripped/stumbled, and his foot went up under the wheels. Didn't cut it off, but "MASHED" 3 of his toes nearly off. They were quite mangled and dangling. He stumbled into the empty mail room up at the coach yard, removed his shoe, then staggered down the ramp and into the yard office. Its amazing he could even walk. There was a trail of blood everywhere he went. Actually, there was a redeeming feature in all this: if his toes had been CUT off, instead of being crushed, he might have bled to death before anyone would have found him. But, being that the wound was MASHED SHUT, it bled less than an clean cut would have.

At the hospital, the railroad police began to check up on this fellow and found that he was WANTED on suspicion of MURDER in Charleston, SC!!!!!!!!! He had hopped a train north, got to New York, then switched to go back south, and was looking to find something going WEST to throw off the cops. It all ended in Charlotte, NC with hobbles and handcuffs!
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