|Posted by hemetsjmodelrailroad on April 20, 2011 at 5:15 PM||comments (9)|
Early in my career as a locomotive fireman I was working the extra board. This meant I would be called to work when my turn came up and I was qualified to fire the job. This call was normally two hours before the crew was to report to work. My call on the state was to report to the depot (Milwaukee) as soon as I could. Train number 214 (a "400" from north of Green Bay in route to Chicago) is having diesel trouble and needs to be double headed with a steam engine. This young fireman was in for the ride of his life. Our engine was the largest Pacific type the Chicago and Northwestern Railway had service. We were quickly coupled to the slick diesel and started on our run to Chicago. As we climbed up through Bayview and St. Francis I leaned out of the right gangway and waved my wife and kids. We live near open field mainlines. We picked up speed as be top the grade at Cudahy. What a site that must have been. The big black Pacific locomotive leading the yellow and green "400" with three of her four diesels screaming at maximum speed. The engineer did his required break tests as we approach the first stop at Racine. He just touched the break valve and there is a tug as the train drags breaks. This lets the engineer know that he has breaks and will be able to stop at the next station. The rest of the trip was a blur with another stop at Evanston just north of Chicago. We arrived at the Chicago station the regular engineer climbed down from the diesel to confer with the engineer. They were glad to have completed a very successful trip. The diesel engineer informed us that before we tested our breaks North of racine we were doing 107 mi./h and he rarely exceeded and he rarely exceeded 102 mi./h at that point. Now you know why i miss the thrill of racing down the track on one of those glorious old smoke belching monsters. This was 1949 and we gave up speed rails for freeways!