1950's railroading, Kistler's UP Steam Movies

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1950's railroading, Kistler's UP Steam Movies

  • Not only are the action pix of the Big Boys, Challengers, and Northerns wonderful, but they are a reminder of how freight railroad has drastically changed.   All the freights were manifest, loose car railroading, no car identical with its follower.   And what a variety!   No unit trains, no coal.   Today?

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  • And also no intermodal!

  • Dave, you're certainly right about the color of railroading in the 50's.  Maybe a professional railroader who lived through that era wouldn't have thought of it as "colorful"  but we fans certainly do.

    I wish I could remember his name, but a rail writer years ago said that when railroads switched to diesels a railroad was going to have all the color of a conveyor belt.  A bit over the top, but I appreciate what he meant.

  • daveklepper
    All the freights were manifest, loose car railroading, no car identical with its follower.   And what a variety! 

    No matter how old I get or how many trains I see, when I think of a train in my mind's eye, that is what it looks like.

    That was a great video.


    So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

    "A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

    "O. S. Irricana"

    . . . __ . ______

  • I am glad to have the ability to remember the real thing, not just slides and movies, but I did see trains like that, and I am glad that I did.

    I bet less than 10% of the freight on the Cheyenne - Ogden line now are manifest trains.   I'll be 90% are intermodal, coal, and unit trains of one type of another, with tankcar trains increasing and coal decreasing.

  • If you get any takers of that bet, tell "em to come to me when they want to buy a bridge...OK, David?

    Adding to my cage of picked nits: did ya' hear the term applied to "a move known as...." when the caboose was propelled by the Challenger to recouple to the rear of its train.

    I saw only one of those moves in steam, and to see it done with a Challenger was awesome. I saw an LIRR H10s at Hicksville do it in 1950's-earliesh....a small engine, response to throttle and independent brake handle had to be much quicker than the                                                               Challenger.

    To do the move you start abruptly and then on signal abruptly slow enough to guarantee enough slack to allow pulling the pin (uncoupling) the cab', then accelerating away from the caboose to open a space between the rear of your engine allowing the switch behind you to be lined for the other track, hopefully having the caboose moving fast enough to get to a controlled joint with the train, but not too fast for the brakeman who lined the switch to swing aboard---who may be the crew member who's going to control with the hand brake the coupling.

    Awesome to see that performance of a, not "kicking,"...of a drop.

    We could talk, also, about "dutch drops."  

  • those were the "railroad ballet' days. 

  • Having been fortunate enough to see a drop executed properly on two different occasions, it's easy to see why management (and the safety committee) frowns on such a practice.

    Paul The commute to work may be part of the daily grind, but I get two train rides a day out of it.
  • The print version of a frown in the 1960's SP rule book was "Running switches will be made only when necessary under the supervision of the conducter.....

    Drops were extremely common, I guess you could say "necessary," during my years, and never boring or always safe.

    After a month or so running the Moss Landing Turn (Thanks engr Frank....) we were bumped. Twice we dropped the whole train each day---about 10 cars. That next day the switch somehow didn't get thrown behind the engine which went in to a joint on about a dozen cars tied down. An old, for then which was 1960-63, tank car was against the front coupler of the GP9. The tank on that old car was held to the frame by straps.

    When the cars  moving at about 15 mph hit the rear end of the engine the straps broke, the now loose tank surmounted the engine's frame bounced over the concrete (extra-weight) block in the short hood and came to rest on the rear wall of the cab.

    The fireman got scraped up after jumping out the cab window; the engineer had a femur crushed by the control stand.

    Strapac's SP GP's book said SP 5714 was the first GP9 scrapped; yes it was the engine involved and I had run it the day before....with the same train crew.

  • wow,what a story, thanks for sharing.


  • I have heard it said that when "they took the steam out of railroading the romance went with it". Maybe, but alot of the hard dirty hot work went also. Not sure that was a good thing.