Montour Railroad 

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Tim Sposato Stories
Jim Lane 'Coal Donation'

Here is a photo of Jim Lane taken at Boggs yard on the main in 1974. They had just pulled clean coal off the Siding at Champion and were air testing the train for the trip to Montour Jct.


Jim was working as a fireman in late 1930's on a run, late one winter evening out of Montour Jct., he thought it might have been locomotive #33.
As they headed east they passed through Greer Tunnel, over the PRR in the through truss bridge and around the left hand curve. Here they exploded a track torpedo used for signaling a obstruction ahead. They slowed down and caught sight of a flagman giving them a stop signal with a red lantern. After stopping the flagman said his train ahead of them was having air trouble with a pick up off the PRR Transfer at Hills, but expected they would be moving East shortly. The flagman climbed aboard as the engineer (George Barefoot) eased down to stop behind the flagman's caboose. At this point they had stopped on a short straight stretch east of Greers crossing above what later became the water purification plant for #4 mine along Chartiers Creek. This was also next to an old frame/ log dwelling belonging to an old widow woman. Her husband was a miner all his life, but had past away. I can only believe the miner used to walk either the Montour, or PRR that crossed the creek at this same point, to work every day. Depending if he worked the tipple or entered the mine at the supply yard along the PRR.
Well, Jim living in Hills station, knowing all his neighbors decided to toss some coal out from the tender into her front yard. He said he had tossed coal as he passed by on moving trains before, usually a shovel full or two if he was quick enough. After he supplied her yard he climbed down into the cab and was confronted by the trainmaster. Seems the TM had been lurking around the train stopped in front of them and walked back for a visit. He asked Jim what he had be doing on the tender and Jim replied he was shoving coal closer to the bunker doors and trimming the loose coal so as not to have it fall from the top of the tender. Well the trainmaster knew the real story and wondered why he saw coal landing in the widow's yard, no reply from Jim would have changed the verdict.
The TM reported Jim and disciplinary actions where given in terms of more "brownies" to his record, but the coal remained for the widow. Guess the TM may have had a soft spot himself. I easily imagine the scene of the #33 sitting there shrouded in steam on a cold evening with its headlight illuminating a wooden caboose and the silhouette of Jim against the night sky making sure the old widow woman would be warm for another night.
As you walk east today from Greer’s Crossing when the foliage is dead you will be able to see the remnants of the old dwelling foundation of the widow's home on the right side of the grade. I have stood there , looking around, listening, recalling of this story...........

Tim Sposato