Interesting Trains That I Have Worked On

 

I recall two particular and interesting trains that I worked. One was a 39 car train of tractors on flat cars moving from International Harvesters plant in Louisville to Haskell, Indiana on the Michigan (City) Branch where it was given to the Grand Trunk for movement to Canada. This was the early 1950’s and there was still a great demand for new farm equipment so this was a rush order. We were given running rights over all trains. I can recall yet, it was a interesting view sitting in the cupola of the caboose watching those 150 tractors bouncing up and down and swaying side to side on the flat cars. It would have been a very great rail photographers dream to have caught this on film. But, once again, very few had the opportunity to view it.

The other special train was the time I was called as conductor to take a locomotive and caboose for a run to Hammond, Indiana to receive a train being delivered to us from another railroad. We arrived in Hammond about 7 a.m. and the road’s yard engine came dragging the train into the other end of the yard. This particular train had something that looked like it was out of the last century. The cars and equipment including some of the lions and tigers looked like they might have come with the equipment.

  

The performers or stars of the circus had old dilapidated coaches in which to ride, but the roustabouts were sleeping under the wagons on the flat cars. I recall that the whole operation was such a mangy looking mess that the owner was forced to pay in advance before the train was allowed to leave the yards. We ran from Hammond to Lafayette at the maximum speed of 30 mph. I was sure that some of the equipment would fall apart or leave the rail before we got there. But we made it safely.

We were relieved by another crew at the Shops who then took the train on south. A few days later when I saw the conductor who had relieved me, I asked him how the rest of the trip went. He said, well we made it, but one of the roustabouts rolled off one of the flat cars going down Fifth Street in Lafayette and nobody knew it until we got to Bloomington. Little wonder that the railroad never chose to handle any more circus equipment.

By Jim Strother, as originally written in The Hoosier Line. Volume 13, Number 2

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