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  Railroads of Madison County
Roger Hensley
Conrail Memories


Tuesday evening April 22, 1997, I got a 'hurry up' phone call from a friend who spotted an interesting loco on ELIN-2A out of Elkhart Indiana to Indianapolis. He lives about two and a half miles north of me on the DOW/Marion Branch. He reported a CR leader followed by a CNW and a 4 axle Rio Grande. It was even clean he said and, "You can actually read the Rio Grande. It should be by you in about 10 minutes. I couldn't get the number."

It was too dark for pictures (I tried that the other night without success), but I wanted to see it anyway. We never did get too many of them through here and I wanted to see one more before they're all gone. With that in mind, I slipped on my coat and cap and walked the block to the track crossing on my street where the line to the DOW joins the CR number one main, stepped out of the breeze into the shelter of a nearby building and waited.

In the quiet of the evening, I could hear the growl of the Eastbound AN80 leaving South Anderson Yards and whistling for a nearby crossing on its way to Muncie for an exchange with NS. From the number two main downtown, I could hear a fast moving Westbound blowing an almost constant whistle for the multiple crossing and the click of the wheels on crossing joints. It almost sounded like the click clack of the wheels on the rails in the days before continuously welded rail. A very pleasant sound.

As the sound of the Westbound faded, I waited for the whistle that was to come and then I heard it. ELIN was on the move. It had been waiting the signal just north of the number two main by the high school. The signal near me had lit at about the same time ELIN started up and as I listened to the whistle to gauge its progress, the signal went dark again. It was taking some time to get ELIN moving with any speed. There is a slight grade at the high school and it has caused more than one train crew grief. This was not to prove a real problem as the signal once again came to life and the headlight and flashing ditch lights soon appeared around the curve moving toward me.

With its approach, the gates dropped and I moved out to the street under the street light to get a better view as it passed. As the lead engine passed, I gave a wave to the crew and then watched for the Rio Grande and it was there and passing. The paint was faded and weathered but the pride that had been the Rio Grande was still showing. I scribbled down the number and watched it out of sight as it turned onto the main following the leader.

It was number 3132. I called my friend even as I looked up the number in my Kalmbach roster book. His immediate response was, "That's a GP40. Yeah, not a GP40-2; a GP40 and it may have been an ex-Conrail." And as he said it, I saw it. A GP40 and an ex-Conrail and it was running once again on home rails if even for a short time.

It was worth 30 minutes of my time.

Roger Hensley

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