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Roger Hensley
Conrail at Dawn

Conrail at Dawn

Central Indiana Division, NMRA Rusty Spike
Vol. 28 #3 - May-Jne 1998

Before Dawn

As I rise in the pre-dawn darkness, the sound of the continued whistling for the 35 or so crossings downtown can be easily heard as a Westbound moves along the Number 2 Main. The scanner has already been crackling with activity as trains move into and out of South Anderson yards with the sound of switching, "That'll do." "Give me three point protection." Indianapolis Line is talking with NLPI to the west of Anderson, "NLPI, No. ELIN is going to pass you Westbound."

At drive time, a long TOFC freight (Trailer On a Flat Car) runs Westbound on the Number 2 Main through downtown while, within minutes, the glare of headlights will reflect off of the rails of the Number 1 Main as a 2 mile long freight pulls eastward with its consist of boxcar after boxcar and tank car after tank car. This day will see a quarter mile of container cars on the end of the train. On the scanner, the NS dispatcher can be heard with his, "The Big Four is gonna run one ahead of ya."

In the gathering light of day, the traffic has passed and the rails now lie empty with no sign of the action that has taken place here during the darkness. Only an occasional local running late returning to Anderson from Muncie or a Mail train will slow the commuters on their run to work.

This is the Big Four double track main through East Central Indiana from the Ohio line to Avon on the west of Indy. Trains pass through here at all hours of the day with early morning and early evening seeing the most action. From 1852 until now, this line has carried a constant stream of traffic from the Indianapolis & Bellefontaine though the Bee Line to the Big Four (CCC&StL), New York Central (NYC), Penn Central (PC) and Conrail (CR), this line has been busy moving the freight. Now it waits, once again, to see what the new owners (CSXT) will make of it and the men and women who keep it running.

Roger Hensley
Copyright 1998 - rph

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