South Hammond Memories
(Speaking about the 1993 Calendar)
The April picture in the 1993 calendar is of the 7:59 a.m. yard and transfer job leaving South Hammond for the Belt Railway of Chicago’s Clearing Yard in Bedford Park at about 1:00 p.m. This is right after north bound number 12 departed. I worked this job for a long time.
The July picture of the 432 at the Hammond Depot was south bound Number 5 at about 1:40 p.m. It looks like Joe Conn Sr. in the cab. The Erie Depot in the background was also the hotel where all the Erie crews stayed. When I went to work in August 6, 1945, the number 432 was our stand by engine and she set in stall #3 in case a passenger train engine failed, something that did happen every once in a while.
The August picture of two F-3’s on the sand track are being sanded to go out on southbound number 73. Hostler George Papas is in the fireman’s window while hostler helper Herman (last name forgotten) sands the engine and Charles Murphy, the day machinist comes over to work on the engine.
Pat Swisher was our roundhouse foreman at South Hammond and I was working on the 3-11 pm hostling job. We were talking about the work that we had to clean up when the phone rang. It was Yard Master Eddie Eaton and he said northbound number 6 was having trouble at Dyer and was running about an hour late as it limped into South Hammond. Pat instructed me to get the 432 ready. After I ran to the roundhouse and climbed on board the steam gauge read 100 pounds. I turned the blower on wide open, grabbed the shaker bar and shook the grates loose to break up the coal in the fire box. By the time Pat had the turn table lined up. Once we were back out on the table, he lined for the out bound rail and away we went for the number 1 track. We ran north to the rip track switch and stopped short to wait for Number 6 to show up, all the time working the fire to get a full head of steam up.
By the time Number 6 came over the hill at Ridge Road we had about 200 pounds of steam pressure. When their train stopped the road fireman took their grips, threw them on 432 and climbed aboard. I got on their engine, ran it ahead down number 1 track. They ran ahead and backed out on the main, completed their air test and highballed north out of town to the big city. Another job well done and I tell you those were the good old days.
By Jim Eldridge Sr. , as originally written in The Hoosier Line. Volume 12, Number 2
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