Montour Railroad 

Montour Railroad









Working on the Montour

Schaeffer Stories

Sposato Stories


Railroading 101



Gene P. Schaeffer Stories
Mifflin Junction

The Montour R.R. train dispatchers are kept busy. Mines needing more empties. Calling crews out on their rest. Taxi's to fetch outlawed crews. Derailments. Inclement weather. A telephone that never quits ringing. 24 hours a day... Weekends depending. From the radio base you hear more trouble. Extra 77 East. A Mifflin Turn. Dragging 60 some loads towards Jewell. And another pick up of 20 more loads. Now East of Library Junction.The rain has now stopped. But the crew is in two...again. You hope another pull apart back in the train. And the air isn't coming up. Conversation between the head end and Conductor. Gonna start walking...again...  The head brake man starts back. The flag drops off the caboose and starts forward. Listening for blowing air. Low carring irons you hope. You can hear the trainmen talk. One comment is heard about these train seperations. Something about walking to Mifflin tonight instead of riding. About the Mile Post. You find the seperation. Low couplers...low spot in the joint. The train is put back together. And the slack stretched. Air starts back through the train. Car numbers are recorded. For the delay report. hear in the distance. SW-9's working to restart 60 loads of Pittsburgh Seam Coal. Wet rail...covered in leaves. More jerks...lots of wheel slips. Couplers bang. As the train inches back in motion. And you wait for the next seperation. As you swing up on the caboose. Walking your way to Mifflin Junction.

Oh yes, the mysterious night run to Mifflin on a Saturday. Always unpredictable...never knowing for sure if one was coming.
If you remember reading several months back, Conductor Desko with Engineer H. Wirth, with four SW-9's and 45 coal for Mifflin on a Saturday. Dave L. and myself were just leaving our homes, mine on Marilynn Drive his just up the street on Tracey Drive for the 6 P.M. St. Germaines church service back about 1973 when a blarring air horn and gentle throttling SW-9's came East through Horning road thus diverting our walk to St. Germaines.  We arrived the East End of Salida as the chant of 4,800 horsepower neared and began throttling down for the stop at Salida. Desko was riding the 2nd unit on the head end as he had 2 unfamiliar P&LE you mentioned most  of the Montour men had marked off for the weekend but there was coal backed up and if a crew could be obtained, the Mifflin coal was moved to the Union R.R.
As Desko climbed down off the 2nd SW-9's for the short walk to the wayside telephone booth, he o.k.'ed us to ride with him that night. With permission from the N&W Rook Train Dispatcher to proceed to Mifflin over those 3 miles of joint trackage rights, we  eased off Montour rails and onto N&W's Mifflin Branch.  40+ car lengths later, Wirth  throttled down the SW-9's so the N&W connection switch could be lined back normal  and locked. Arrival at Mifflin Junction we showed the P&LE trainmen were the Montour trackage was and pulled the train up to the scale, cut away and sent the SW-9's back #14 track to the rear. We then walked the loads bleeding off the air then stood in the doorway as each car was sent on its own over the scale. The 3rd car to go over the scale wouldn't roll on its own so Desko looked up underneath it only to find it was off center. Desko then stated he noticed sparks several times between Montour 4 and Brookside  and each time he bleed off the air. This shop car was shoved down into the yard on a seperate track for shop men to work.
Sometime during this process Dave telephoned home and told his Mom where he was. Needless to say she wasn't too happy about this. After weighing the train
then shoving the train down into the delivery yard to the Union, caboose light with again obtaining permission from the N&W we headed west to Salida. As we came to a stop at Salida, Desko was commenting on how good a engineer H. wirth was. At that very moment Wirth slammed on the Independent and the 4 of us nearly went out the door on the opposite side of the caboose during that severe stop.
4 hours later we were back at Salida. Desko had to pick up off Salida Siding and stated he was gonna make the pick up behind the caboose so I asked him if he could pull the  caboose overtopt the N&W Yard so we could look down and see if a N&W train was coming. Sadly the signals at Longview were all red as we backed into the West End of Salida to make the pick up. Dave & I bid our "Thank You's" and walked the short distance back home. Dave's Mom was not happy with him and my Dad of course was never happy with me but it was a memorable trip that winter's Saturday night now 40 Years ago..............Gene P. Scaeffer