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  Railroads of Madison County
Maurice Lewman

Hot Shot

This is from another story about a Ford Train we had on the Michigan Division from So. Anderson, In. to Jeffersonville, In. (across the river from Louisville, Ky.). We had already come 82 miles from So. Anderson and are at North Vernon, In. ready to finish our trip south. The power was 1 GP-9 and 12 cars. We arrived at North Vernon where we ran 53 miles to Jeffersonville on the B&O. 48 miles was timetable and train order operation with automatic block signals. At the time the rule was 509-519. The 5 miles from WS Tower to Jeffersonville Yard was CTC.

At North Vernon the engineer and conductor made a physical check of the train register to see if all superior trains had arrived or departed via the timetable. All superior trains had arrived or departed except one eastbound, B&O Extra 7142 east. Eastbound extra trains are superior by timetable on the B&O. We are running as extra 5972 West. The B&O dispatchers were great for putting out time orders These orders allowed you to go as far as you could go before meeting the other train. A time order was a way of establishing a schedule between two extra trains and modifying the schedule of regular trains. This also takes the pressure from the dispatcher in case the crew has trouble leaving town or cannot make running time.

With train orders and permission to go we pull by the conductor, he asks where I thought we might go for the Extra East. Is Commiskey okay? The train order had the Eastbound waiting at Blotcher until 1:45pm. When the rear end lined the last switch and gave a highball, we had 26 min. to go 10 miles. Commiskey still looked good for the meet but we would see what the time looked like at Commiskey.

Now we must remember that speed at this time in history was not a big thing. The railroad was in excellent condition and 80mph could be handled easily although the speed limit was 50mph. That said, we leave North Vernon going uphill, then dropping down through a river bottom, again uphill to Lovett. Between Lovett and Commiskey, running time looks good. Now you keep your timetable at your side, nothing by memory, checking your time against distance. Coming up to Commiskey, the head end crew decides to try for Blotcher, another 10 miles. We still have Deputy Siding to clear up in, if time gets short. In order to clear the 1:45pm time, which gave us 26 min., minus time for slow down and clearing on time, left us around 21 min. running time from North Vernon. To average this, when going down hill we would have to run 70mph and never get below 55mph uphill. The gearing on these units allowed 65mph and they would cut out by dropping amps. If you placed the throttle in the 6th or 7th throttle position then you could reach 70-72mph.

The speed worked out all right but we had two approach signals to Blotcher. Also the switch lock was frozen and the head brakeman had to thaw the ice. With the switch lined, we headed in the siding and cleared the train in 24 min. using 24 of the 26 min. running time from North Vernon. The Eastbound was then coming at the west end of the siding. After the Eastbound passed, we headed out of the siding and ran the other 33 miles without delay.

Arriving at Jeffersonville Yard and going to the engine house and off duty, the yard engine grabbed the cars, taking them over the Ohio River and on to the Ford Plant in Louisville, Ky.

All trips were not as close on time as this one. Sometimes you had more trains and in earlier years this included passenger trains. All of these moves were made without radios. You had to think and you had to know the rules. To me, this is what made railroading fun.

Almost all of the NYC and B&O Railroads in this story have been abandoned. There is a 5 mile piece of track between Knightstown and Carthage on which the CKS operates a tourist train in the summer. Also another piece of track from So. Anderson to the elevator at Emporia.

In today's modern railroading with radios, talking detectors, full time communication with the dispatchers and other crews, I wanted to leave a record of how we operated without radios but by rules only.

Maurice Lewman

Maurice worked the Michigan Division from 1947-1981. He then worked on the Bee Line from 1981-1992. From 1947 until august 1950, he worked on the section at Shirley and Markleville. In 1950 he started firing on steam and then on through the diesels. Maurice said, "I had the pleasure of working with C. C. Staley and Ron Buser many times."

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