Operations Support August 30th, 31st and September 1st, Labor Day Weekend, 2003

This was the ninth visit to the DS&N by Moose Valley crews, and a record setter for track work.  280' of new track were laid, extending past MP 90.0.  Now only an amazing 50' is needed to complete the main circle.  The division Superintendent worked in the track shop for 2 weeks, to have 28 new panels ready and on the ground by Friday night.  However, before we can complete the line, the grade crossing near MP 100.0 needs to be installed.  In order to ensure this would be done by the end of September, we made the prep work for this a high priority.  

The Ford tractor was used to dig a 96 square foot rectangular depression 14" deep.  But this turned out to be more difficult than expected.  For starters, this area is filled with large shale deposits.  Large flat rocks of various sizes made the excavation difficult.  Some of the rocks were almost 3' across.  Next was the drain pipe.  We did not know exactly how far down this was, but it wasn't as far as we thought.  While excavating, we broke the pipe.  But that wasn't all.  We found the telephone cable too!

Here we see neighbor Dave Kline helping out with the drain pipe repair, while Track Department section hand G. Agne looks on..  A piece of schedule 40 pipe was needed to complete the repair, and Dave had the pipe and glue handy.  Many thanks Dave!

In the photo above, the blue circles highlight the broken phone cable ends.

An old secret was revealed when we examined the phone cable damage.  This line had been spliced here before!  Apparently the contractor who dug the original roadbed had severed the cable, and never reported it to the railroad!  After the excavation was completed, the crews turned their attention to the big pile of track panels waiting for pickup at MP 140.

The work extra was dispatched from Pruitt yard on the West Pike subdivision, and it proceeded east towards the newly constructed overpass at MP 35.  Here we see engine 2300 about to pass beneath for the first time, with the first train.  This consist was slightly unusual, in that the engine was by necessity not at either end of the train.  Due to the line being blocked by several stacks of track panels, we had to have the flat car on the west end of the train, and there was no westbound power on the ready track.  The photographer is riding in the Hopper to get these historic shots.

The 970 was the next train to pass under the new bridge, as engineer "Turtle" Agne works west to the switch.  He will run ahead of the panel train to MP 60.

The first load of panels is moving west to MP 70.

On the way, another first.  The 2300 is taking its train under the second overpass at MP 38.

Out at MP 70, work proceeds in earnest, as the crew lays the long straight-away.

The hot afternoon sun beats down on the crew, but the line is coming along despite the heat.

At MP 80, the line enters Three Pines Curve.

2300 now ends the day in new territory, past MP 80.0, as the train makes its way east.

Saturday finished up with the long stretch between MP 50 and MP 80 complete.  Sunday dawned clear, and the work train was out again, this time with 241 in charge.

In this photo, the work train is in the foreground, but beyond it on the horizon, is 970 at the other end of the line.  The two points are now in clear view of each other.  Nothing but this short grade, and the grade crossing stands in the way.

By afternoon, 241 was in charge of the first revenue train to Pikes Summit.  2300 joins 241 with six cars.  

By evening, 241 returns to Dolittle.

Labor day morning dawned wet and cold.  A light drizzle permeated the railroad, but the work needed to be done, so 2200 is out in the muck with a work extra to pick up panels that were set out on the West Pike sub years ago.  These panels were built using older techniques that have since been upgraded.  The track shop will retro-fit these panels and they will be reused.

Though hard to see, steam is coming off the top of 2200, as we trundle back to Dolittle.

Always the hardy crew, the track gang lays 20 feet of track in the rain, having installed the last available piece on hand.  Look at how close the two ends are now!  In 3 weeks, we will return to close this gap, and for the first time we will not have to back up to go around again!




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