rode ore trains on a regular basis, one or two days or nights a week,
and went to Cobre on the freight train once or twice a month. I rode
in the locomotives, sitting next to the steam boiler just ahead of the
fireman, or in the caboose, sitting up in the cupola with the conductor
and rear brakeman. I walked along the trains with the brakemen while
they made the air tests and signaled the engineer that it was safe to
Fravel said I had a "Hex" on the Cobre freight train. Within
the first few months, I was riding two trains that were derailed. On
the first one, I was riding in the engine going to Cobre, when an empty
coal car derailed, taking 15 empty cars off the track, some of them
as far as 50 feet. This happened about 9 p.m. and after checking the
track and the derailed cars, we called dispatcher by using our emergency
phone. It had a long pole which would reach up to the telephone wires,
with clips to attach to both wires, and wires down to our phone box.
We then took the front of the train on to Shafter and Cobre, then went
to dinner and bed. Mr. Fravel was unhappy when he had to call an extra
crew and bring a work train to the site of the derailment. The train
had our 100-ton crane and the men from the Car Department we called
the Wrecking Crew. They had two passenger coaches, equipped and ready
to at all times to go out on the line. In one coach, they had the rear
end equipped with bunk beds. The front had a kitchen and a long table
with benches, where the entire crew, plus trainmen, enginemen and trackmen
could be fed. I remember taking a prepared list to a grocery store in
the middle of the night and waiting while the order was put up in boxes
to take to the cooking car. The second car was filled with tools for
the carmen. On derailments that took more than a day to clear the track,
the men were fed in groups of ten so the work could go on without interruption.
They had enough food for Mr. Fravel and me too.
this first derailment, Mr. Fravel came with the worktrain from East
Ely, but because it was 100 miles from East Ely, he did not arrive until
8 or 9 a.m. In the meantime, I had gone to Cobre with the train, had
four or five hours sleep, then came with the Cobre Section Gang on an
open motor car. Thank goodness it was summertime. We had good luck rerailing
the empty cars, and by dark, the worktrain and Mr. Fravel had started
back to East Ely, taking the damaged coal cars with them. I stayed and
when the freight crew came with the locomotive from Cobre, we took the
rear of the train to Shafter and Cobre. The next morning, we started
again on the regular trip to East Ely, picking up carlods of coal, lumber,
gasoline, diesel oil, etc., and went on to McGill and East Ely.
should tell you that the State Law required that trainmen and enginemen
could not be on duty longer than 16 hours, which meant that the worktrain
had to stop at Currie for 8 hours rest before they could continue on
to East Ely. However, the carmen all caught the bus home.
weeks later, I was sitting in the caboose on the freight train leaving
Shafter about 10 a.m. with at least 75 loaded cars and two locomotives.
We were going along about 30 miles per hour when we derailed 10 carloads
of coal, tearing up the track for 300 feet, and badly damaging the coal
cars. This was at a point not 10 miles from the point where the first
accident occurred. I am sure I could hear Mr. Fravel cussing. Again,
we checked the track, put up the portable phone and called the dispatcher
to report the derailment. We found that the rail leading into a turnout
switch had buckled into an "S" curve and caused the derailment.
This happened before due to 90 degree heat during the summers.
we proceeded with the front cars of the train to McGill and East Ely.
The next morning, as soon as the crew had 8 hours rest, off we went
with the wrecking crew and their outfit cars, the 100 ton crane, and
also a clamshell crane, which we needed to unload many of the carloads
of coal before we could bring them back on the track. Mr. Fravel stayed
home, but we called him regularly to keep him informed. When the 16-hour
Law caught us, we were only partly finished, so we had to go back to
Currie and tie up for 8 hours. We also had to fill the engine with water.
The second day we finished rerailing the cars, and the track was repaired
so we could reach the rear of the train and the caboose, but again we
ran out of time and had to stop for rest, this time at Cherry Creek.
We all had our meals with the carmen and had bunks in the sleeping car.
A roundhouse man from East Ely arrived to take care of the locomotive.
We finally got back to East Ely with the worktrain, the damaged coal
cars, and the rear of the train. Inasmuch as we were then behind schedule,
the freight crew was called after 8 hours rest and started out again
to McGill and Cobre. In the meantime, we had the switch crew running
back and forth to Ruth and Kimberly, then over to McGill to push the
rear cars of coal into McGill yard.