Coming from a railroad family, and/or working for a railroad can have its privileges in these current times (late sixties, early seventies). Even railfans have some of those privileges, getting into towers to shoot the breeze with operators, an occasional cab ride, etc.
I guess railroaders are a fraternity, sort of a family. Railroading certainly gets in the blood, whether you’re currently employed or retired. As a former railroader and a railfan I in the past got to partake in some of these same privileges way back when, namely getting into yards with permission, a cab ride or two, a chance to get up into towers, and several other rather long distance rides I had to turn down.
One trip I would have loved to ride in the cab would have been one of the turns out of Dickinson yard during those Penn Central days. I can only imagine what that trip would have looked like. So today, we’re going to take that imaginary trip out of Dickinson up to Nitro.
It’s early morning with a bit of chill in the air with the usual fog and smog as well, as I follow the head-end crew toward our power for the day, GP9 #7466. The rear-end crew is already aboard back on the ex-PRR caboose. I brought two things with me, my camera, and a thermos of coffee.
As we pump up the air, we settle in and pour some coffee. The crew chews the fat about the latest West Virginia sports, the fate of the railroad, the weather, hunting season, relatives, etc. This crew has worked together a long time, having worked the Secondary for the New York Central, so they get along well. The banter is lively all during the trip.
In fact, I’m so involved in some of the conversation plus in a daze from being privileged to ride through the Kanawha Valley, I forget to pick up my camera as we roll westbound. I do remember the US highway we paralleled I did remember all the industries, especially the chemical plants that we passed. When you’re a young teen in love with trains, and you’re riding down a mainline through some beautiful country with friendly conversation and good coffee, there’s nothing that can describe it.
As the train comes into Nitro to service the conglomeration of chemical plants there, the crew must bid farewell to me, as they can’t have me aboard as they go into the plant complexes. I heartily thank this hard working friendly bunch as they let me off on the lead a bit past the yard office. I finally remember to take at least one photo and here it is below: