Railroads of Madison County|
September 4, 2012
I have one Labor Day memory that concerns the New York Central. It was Labor Day 1961, a mere fifty-one years ago. (Ouch!!)
School was getting ready to start and for lack of anything better to do (yeah, sure!) I went up to the North White Plains (NY) yard that afternoon around 4 PM. An eastbound diesel train was due so I went to watch the car inspectors change the power from diesel to electric. The guys I knew were off, but I was invited down on the cinders for a closer look. The train came in with FM power, two Erie-built 4400s I think. The engineer invited me up into the cab. I was SO glad I had decided to stop by the yard. I sat in the fireman's seat (the fireman had already gone back to the rear unit) and we pulled east past NW tower and then began the crossover move to the small engine terminal at NWP, with the fireman operating from what had been the trailing unit.
When we tied up on a ready track I noticed there were about three sets of FM power already there. Wow what a sight. Counting the engines I had just
rode in on there were eight FM units laying over. 4400 Erie-builts and 4500 C-liners.
That should've (but didn't) tip me off that something was up. Normally late on a holiday afternoon most of the FMs would be up at Putnam Jct. in Brewster awaiting the next morning's rush. There wouldn't be EIGHT of them at North White anyway.
As I discovered the next day, the FM cab units were leaving the Harlem Division. The following afternoon an engineer told me they were going to Collinwood, to be "run into the ground." I was stunned by the suddenness of it. They were my favorite engine, only because they were the only streamlined cab units on the Harlem. I knew most of the engineers hated them, considered them "junk."
I think the next afternoon, instead of the usual six or eight on three or four trains, I saw just one two-unit set. They went west on a Chatham train. And
that was it. I never saw the FMs again.
It's a terrible memory actually. :>(