Mountain Railroading Tough In Old Oregon, Published 23 November 1946

Here we are, buried among the tall firs of middle Oregon, but comfortably bedded down at the little hotel in McCredie Springs. Once the inner man had been hustled through the table d'hote. I decided to see if I could not find the railway station. We had picked up two RCAF hitch hikers, and they too, wanted to accompany me.
"I am going to show you some railroading," 1 told Ernest Reynolds, Toronto and Stan Whiteside, Winnipeg.
Now try to get the picture. A moon was all but obscured by scudding clouds, that chased each other madly across a sky. A sky fringed on all sides as you looked up through tall primeval stands of Oregon fir. So here we were in the chipping woods, fitfully being rained on, and picking our way through as dark a night as I have seen in a long time, up toward where we heard the sounds coming from, if you will pardon my ending a phrase with a preposition.

* * *

The RCAF flashlights lit a path and finally, we reached the summit. Here, the gigantic Southern Pacific engines made ready to lift their long loads a mile high over the Cascade summit. Let me tell you about these locomotives because you will never see any of them around here. Unique to the Southern Pacific, the cabs are at the head end of the engines. Like a bus. the driver can look right down at the ground in front of him. That means that he is not asphyxiated by the oil fumes in the long tunnels through which these big S.P. engines work. Back of the cab comes the boiler, then there is a sort of cat walk over the cylindrical tender. Altogether, a big ESPEE engine is a formidable, and a thrilling sight.
They do not pant like ordinary engines, they exclaim angrily, like a short tempered man. There is a sort of echo to their pant, which adds to their testiness. You imagine the engine is mad clean through, and wants to tackle and boys got their first look at these big super engines, they admitted I they were seeing something. I asked the engineer, on this south-bound fireightif he was ready to go, and he said he was. He told mee there was a second cab-front engine further back in the train, and a third was pushing at the rear end. It takes a while to lineup such a freight, since you have to break up the train to get that engine in the middle, and of course you have to couple on behind too. But by whistles, the engineers all talked to each other.
Suddenly the head end 4100 shrieked, he got two toots from the middle engine, while the pusher also gave htm two blasts.
"Watch the way these boys pick up a freight" I told my RCAF lads.
What made it imperative that they hustle was that The Cascade, fastest all-Pullman train from Portland to California, was right behind them. They had to get going, or tie up the whole system. Quickly the conductor gave the highball, stalled. Far buck I hoard the echo as the middle engine snorted, and then I heard the third one starting to work.
1 tell you. the way those big wrong-end-to engines picked up those hundred loads, you'd think it was a toy train. The three of them had the hundred cars rolling in no time. So the first fellow disappeared into the night, and in this murky world, pretty soon we saw the second engine, another 4100. working up the grade, all aglow as oil burners are. He thundered past us took the bend, and we now had two ahead, and one behind. Finally, pushing her up the Cascades was a big new 4200. larger than the others, and by this time, he was roaring up the snake grade 40 miles an hour. This was railroading.
"Gee" said the Royal Canadian Air Force, in admiration.
Then we walked up to the little station, where Doyle, the night trick operator, was doing his busy eight hour stretch by lamp light. We passed the time of night, and  beat hat hill, as quickly as possible.
Now then, when the air force then we asked where the Cascade was.
"She's right behind" he said, then told us the block is still red. In other words, she couldn't pass McCredie station until the triple-headed freight cleared that section of track. First we heard a moan of The Cascade, as she made way 'up the hill lrom Oakridge. Then we saw her light, rcllected.
We turned, and the signal said red. That meant he'd have to flag down the limited. He came out ready to flag her down. We turned, the signal said red. Then the big headlight blinded us. as the 4400 passenger engine, double-headed with a freight locomotive, came thundering at us. Doyle was ready to flag down the Cascade. Then, dramatically, the red swung to green, he dropped his board, and with his flashllght. highballed thc Cascade through McCredie.
The conductor, opening the top half of the Pullman door, beamed back a welcome with his flash to Doyle. The Cascade was on her way to the Summit, chasing the fast freight that it was not destined to catch.
But then there was another whistle.
"That The Beaver?" I asked, and Doyle nodded. The Beaver, the day coach section of the California flier was right on the tail of The Cascade. Again we watched the lights, and they stayed red for a long time. But just as The Beaver's head end came down the.stretch, the signal again went green. With her long rows of brilliantly lighted day coaches, contrasted with the Pullmans on the Cascade. with her blinds drawn, the Beaver was a better show. She went by us, under control, lest Doyle had to hold her down. Again the con arced a greeting with his lamp, again Doyle replied. and the Beaver screamed a note with her whistle, saying she was all set for that mad gallop up to the Summit.
Then you heard a long roar and a rattle and you forgot that the northbound freight had been quietly waiting there all the time fo a clear track. But he did no panting von could have started him on that down grade with a crow bar. So he rolled softly down lrom McCredie Springs toward Oakridge, a cream puff operation after the other stuff.
"That's railroading" I told our air force boys.
"Yes. sir." they said.  

Home   Circle    Cross Articles

Updated 9 August 2019