THE magazine of railroading

SEARCH TRAINSMAG.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Steam rescues of passenger trains

1815 views
9 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2004
  • From: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 2,434 posts
Steam rescues of passenger trains
Posted by gabe on Monday, August 21, 2006 12:07 PM

About two years ago, there was a great article in Trains about UP's 800 series steam locomotives.  As an aside in the article, the author told the story of being on a UP westbound passenger train when the diesel power broke down or something like that.

The only thing they had to rescue the train was an 800--which turns out to be the 844.  The Author was impressed, because the 844 was nearly able to make up the time, despite the hour delay.  It was a good story about supper power steam.

Anyway, I was randomly reflecting on this story, when it occurred to me, how do they get the steamer to the passenger train?

Do they run it in reverse the 75 + miles to the passenger train--at one would think high speed no less?  I assume this was not the only steam rescue in the history of railroading, so was it standard proactice to run the engiles in reverse for so long?

Gabe

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 8,184 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, August 21, 2006 12:23 PM

Without knowing the particulars, I would assume that the relief engine would run in normal fashion to the nearest wye or turntable, and then run in reverse from that point if it was based at the next division point ahead of the stalled train.  Of course, this would not be an issue if the relief engine was based at the division point behind the train.

I would also think that running in reverse would have some severe speed restrictions.

Paul The commute to work may be part of the daily grind, but I get two train rides a day out of it.
  • Member since
    September, 2002
  • 6,201 posts
Posted by ndbprr on Monday, August 21, 2006 1:22 PM
Most railroads had protection engines ready and waiting for breakdowns.  Most railroads did not run their steam over multiple divisions.  The PRR for example exchanged electric for steam at Harrisburg and steam for steam at Pittsburgh and Ft. Wayne before getting to Chicago.  In addition traffic was much higher density so the chance of another engine coming along was pretty high.  The superior train would automatically comandeer the engine of the inferior train.  My favorite steam rescues diesel story was when the SP GS4 was on the point of an F40PH pulling the freedom train.  When they refueled both somewhere out west they put the #6 in the diesel tank and the #2 oil in the GS-4.  As they started up a grade the engineer of the diesel realized what had happened and informed the crew of the GS-4 that they were about to die and to pour the oil on.  Those who witnessed the GS-4 cresting the grade out of a tunnel with the pops lifted and fifty years of soot rolling out of the tunnel hauling the entire thing over the top say it was a lifetime experience.
  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Burlington, WI
  • 1,180 posts
Posted by rvos1979 on Monday, August 21, 2006 1:34 PM
I remember an article in a past issue of Trains where UP 844 and/or 3985 were running an excursion up the Donner Pass route, and the diesel that was to do the pulling in the 2-mile tunnel dropped it's load.  The tunnel got steam-cleaned, and they had to wash the entire train afterwards, all the diesel soot fell on the train.

Randy Vos

"Ever have one of those days where you couldn't hit the ground with your hat??" - Waylon Jennings

"May the Lord take a liking to you and blow you up, real good" - SCTV

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Ely, Nv.
  • 6,312 posts
Posted by chad thomas on Monday, August 21, 2006 1:53 PM

 rvos1979 wrote:
I remember an article in a past issue of Trains where UP 844 and/or 3985 were running an excursion up the Donner Pass route, and the diesel that was to do the pulling in the 2-mile tunnel dropped it's load.  The tunnel got steam-cleaned, and they had to wash the entire train afterwards, all the diesel soot fell on the train.

Yea, And Jack W. & co. got a reminder of how hot it could get in a tunnel with a working steamer.

  • Member since
    March, 2004
  • From: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 2,434 posts
Posted by gabe on Monday, August 21, 2006 2:20 PM

 rvos1979 wrote:
I remember an article in a past issue of Trains where UP 844 and/or 3985 were running an excursion up the Donner Pass route, and the diesel that was to do the pulling in the 2-mile tunnel dropped it's load.  The tunnel got steam-cleaned, and they had to wash the entire train afterwards, all the diesel soot fell on the train.

I remember that article as well.  I have always wondered if that incident had anything to do with 844's breakdown two days later.  I realize it is unlikely, but it always hung at the back of my mind.

Gabe

  • Member since
    September, 2002
  • From: West end of Chicago's Famous Racetrack
  • 2,239 posts
Posted by Poppa_Zit on Monday, August 21, 2006 4:01 PM
The story of the 844 (or the Challenger) rescuing a broken-down freight train outside Cheyenne was documented in one of the Trains Unlimited shows. It was returning from a run when it came upon the freight and pushed it into the yard.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They are not entitled, however, to their own facts." No we can't. Charter Member J-CASS (Jaded Cynical Ascerbic Sarcastic Skeptics) Notary Sojac & Retired Foo Fighter "Where there's foo, there's fire."
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 282,456 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 6:53 AM

The Overland Route portion of the UP is all double track, so getting there wouldn't be much of a problem. Steam engines used in helper service had to get back down the hill sometimes in reverse, so I don't think running backwards would be a problem provided there's a trailing truck, but I believe all light engine moves were at restricted speeds. Steam rescues of the early diesel powered Streamliners was pretty common on the UP, so it's not the first time an 800 or 7000 class 4-8-2 saved the day.

One of the more interesting protection engines was CB&Q's Aelous a.k.a. Big Alice the Goon, the stainless steel shrouded Hudson. It rescued the Denver and Twin Cities Zephyrs  a few times.

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 282,456 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 22, 2006 8:56 PM
In the fall of 1958, UP 106 (City of Portland)'s diesels failad at north Platte. The put an 800 on the front ran that baby to Omaha. What a time to be in the dome!
  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Cambridge, UK
  • 381 posts
Posted by owlsroost on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 7:53 AM

 rvos1979 wrote:
I remember an article in a past issue of Trains where UP 844 and/or 3985 were running an excursion up the Donner Pass route, and the diesel that was to do the pulling in the 2-mile tunnel dropped it's load.  The tunnel got steam-cleaned, and they had to wash the entire train afterwards, all the diesel soot fell on the train.

On the 'SANTA FE 3751: The California Limited' video - http://unix8.sunserver.com/mark1video/Detail.bok?no=89 - there's a wonderful scene where the train emerges from one of the Tehachapi tunnels accompanied by a huge plume of smoke and soot (blasted off the tunnel roof) trailing two formerly pristine, now soot-covered FP45's in Warbonnet livery.

After the train had got to Barstow, there's almost a classic interview with one of the people from the cab of 3751 - pretty much covered head-to-toe in soot, but with the biggest smile you could imagine on his face Smile [:)]

(If you haven't seen 'The California Limited', it's an excellent video - the first US train video I bought, and still one of my favourites).

Tony

 

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Trains free email newsletter
NEWS » PHOTOS » VIDEOS » HOT TOPICS & MORE
GET OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Connect with us
ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER

Loading...