Montour Railroad 

Montour Railroad


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Working on the Montour

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Railroading 101



Tim Sposato Stories
Morris Mine BBQ

While working with the #2 Section gang it was decided to have a BBQ and roast  around the Holidays one year. We planned that, it being a Friday (payday) and we were gauging some rail on the Westland Branch that week, since the weather had turned colder with snow flurries, under Morris Tipple would be a great place to cook up some deer meat that a few of us had bagged earlier in the season near Library Jct. Since this was a well planned event, the gang all brought a covered dish or beverage of some kind and of course the Track Super was also invited. This meant we needed to start cooking as soon as we reported for work that day!  Empty spike kegs were used as the BBQ's and warmers, we used mine coal that was lying all over to get the base started and continued with the abundance of wood along the R of W.   

Naturally, while we cooked, we explored the remaining mine structures. We made our way down the sloped shaft opening about 75ft before we came to the water level, and the mine rails that were left continued into the depths. We then visited the old air shaft just west of the tipple. This was an enclosed structure, and as you entered the door way, the walkway ran the length of the building on one side. There was a metal railing on the other side of the walk to prevent falling into the vertical shaft opening. About a 25ft drop before hitting the water.  

We decided to test the quality of the fusee's the MRR purchased by lighting them, dropping them into the water and watching as the red glow faded away into the shaft. Most of them did remain lit as they sank. After dinner and the reception of the paychecks, we wished the Super a Merry Christmas as he departed for his home.

At this time rule "G" came into play as we finished out our tour of duty. About then, the late Foreman, John Schmidt and myself explored the tipple and really studied the elevator shaft under it. 
This elevator had mine rails still affixed to the platform, the lifting cable still wound its way through the pulleys and wheel and spool. John commented that the elevator was resting on two pieces of rail that were laid over two of the corners of the shaft opening. "If you  and I" John said, "were to take two spike mauls and hit these two rails at the same time it just might drop into the shaft."  I found two mauls and returned as we all gathered for the great event. 

At the command we struck the blows and all hell broke loose. The elevator plunged, the cables started swinging, snapping as the sheave wheel rotated with increasing speed, and at this time fragments of the tipple started to drop as we all ran for cover. In all honesty, I thought that the way the tipple shook and groaned that it was coming down.  Over my shoulder I saw in the coal dust and debris, a column of water shoot straight up out of the shaft as the elevator hit the water. For a time after, the cable continued to unwind into the shaft and then just coil up in the girders. 

You can believe the laughter this brought for quite some time, until John realized we had created a real hazard for others walking near the open shaft.   He decided to visit the farmer up the road were we got some snow fence and some steel posts so we could fence off the opening before we left.
In the picture to the left notice the glowing spike keg, pot of brown-sugared beans.  The switch broom handle was used to stir the coals for that nice baking heat.  We're both standing on the rail bed as it passes under the loading chute. Also the snow fence that JP Schmidt & I rounded up from the nearby  farmer to close off the elevator shaft opening after it decended for the final time that day.
 I do enjoy this one in particular . "Hippy" is an interesting fellow, loved  his beer (Strohs in hand), loved Harley's, but never had a real decent running one. He would surprise us with a different vehicle every other week, some even would start at the end of the day.  Occasionally I would drive him to & from work if he couldn't get one going. He was a hard drinker, fighter, tough guy, But would help you out at a drop of a hat. He was a good partner on the gang.  He invited me along on many after hour  entertainments with his associates. Needless to say, those were very interesting.
Some place I have another shot of Hippy, standing on a Chevy Blazer hood, with his pants down "Mooning" an eastbound empty train at Peacock Siding.  I think the engineer was one of the  Lane Boys.
Hippy  was one of the few Railroaders other then ourselves that always wore the  traditional hat of a Railroad Man. Just another colorful person in the history of the Montour RR.

As you know, “you can never have taken enough pictures”. I only took a few of us grilling the steaks that day, maybe one looking into the sloped shaft.  I suppose I need to locate these this winter and share them with you all.

By the way the steaks were fantastic, not to mention the trimmings that day.

Tim Sposato