Sunday, November 22, 2009

Take a Ride on the Dixie Central

Earl has number seven all steamed up this morning. It's a crisp late autumn day and the heat from the boiler is much welcomed in the cold morning air. Stumpy checks the gauges and asks Jimmy if he's through with lubricating. As Jimmy swings aboard, a few blasts on the whistle let the work crew know that we're headed to work!

The schedule is pretty heavy today. Everyone is busy since the cotton crop came in strong this year. Seven glides out of the servicing area and onto the main.

Stumpy runs around and picks up three empty flats as Jimmy works the turnouts.

Putting the throttle into reverse we leave Martinez and head down to the shore. The boat came in yesterday and has already loaded one boxcar of clean cotton into the hold. They are ready for another.

Running along the Savannah River the grade is gentle and the cold breeze blowing across the cab causes Jimmy to check the coffee pot sitting on the firebox to make sure its full.

Arriving at the docks, "Lefty" Martin, the conductor who has been riding on the last car all this time runs into the freight house to check out what we're dropping off and picking up. He comes back to the track with the paperwork and waves his lantern for us to proceed.

Lefty jumps in the cab for the ride back to Martinez. We're pushing the box forward of the locomotive since we didn't have a run around track at oceanside. Every eye counts, even Lefty's only good left eye.

Back at the passing siding, we drop off the empty and put it on the back of the train. Unique Knitting Mills has a full car and needs another for their load of warm winter underwear. We usually get a box for ourselves to take home every fall.

We've run around and picked up the empty box. Jimmy shoves his fingers in his pockets until we clear the switch.

Lefty clears the move with Arnold, the day manager at the mill and receives a box full of something that he's carrying under his arm. We pull the full car out and push the empty back in. Stumpy has gained a few pounds this summer and I hope Lefty got a size larger for him.

With the three flats and a full textile box we head up to Toccoa to pick up the baled cotton that was picked yesterday. With the new fangled machinery and a few less boll weevils, the crop is coming in good.

Jimmy and Lefty signal Stumpy through a series of moves while the cotton farmers wait patiently on their wagons. The crops come in all at once, so everything gets back up. It will take them the rest of the day and all night to load up the flats with the bales.

Jimmy jumps back up in the cab and shovels three more scoops of coal into the fire while Stumpy slowly moves the bar to make us move ahead. We're headed to the cotton gin.

We pass back by the servicing area but the water looks good and the coal is still piled high. We won't stop this morning.

The lake is still and shining in the sun as we steam past to the Gin. The mill foreman is already waving to us, so I'm sure he wants us in and out in a hurry. I throw my now cold coffee off the side of the cab.

We pull out a boxcar full cotton seed and a gondola full of clean bales ready for the mill. We'll leave them a flat of seed cotton and an boxcar. Several times we had to clear the white fluff off the cab as it is everywhere when the gin is running.

Stumpy is careful not to leave a car on the crossing since the wreck of '24. That's why we call him stumpy as he lost part of his leg in the accident.

Lefty has us go back to Martinez and set out the cars. Later today we'll head up to Clayton and pick up some cars from the local, but that is two hours away.

Stumpy and Jimmy arrange for a run around so that we can push the cars into their slots in the yard.

There is an east bound staging track, a west bound and a holding track in the yard. Lefty hollers the orders as he stands on the ground near the loco. The sun has now warmed things up a bit, so Jimmy shuffles off his gloves and heavy coat.

The cotton field next to the yard has bolls that are bursting with white fluff. They will pick this one in the next few days. With the cars staged, our engine is out of fuel and so is the crew. We head back to the servicing area to take on water, coal and beans.

Number Seven stays warm and let's off some steam once in a while. In the mean time Lefty shares some ham from last nights vittles with the crew along with some stew that was left on the stove this morning. Nothing like a good meal to get you ready for the ride to Clayton.

1 comment:

  1. These images help! What software are you using? I have Trainz 2009, but not enough pc to run it :-(.