Thursday, February 23, 2023

"Coles Crossing"

Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.

 December 23, 2017

02:56 crew change at Cole’s Crossing (homestead in the background) somewhere along US 2 between night and a barely dozen-degree morning. In the 45 cab, Eastern Washington Gateway Engineer “Jay” Pospisil (aka Popsicle) and Conductor Scott Rohrig have just been briefed by and relieved the previous crew to continue the train’s trek west on the venerable “CW.” Some 2100 feet into the icy, countlessly pinholed-black, flashing-red Fred dutifully comms control-stand-perched Mary he’s good-to-go and Jay releases the binders throttle in opposite hand opens it to give his horses the gitty up. Just above the headlight I spot Orion’s belt and I pause to consider how much tonnage this inimitable ’69 LaGrange mare has hauled about murica while she proudly wore Espee’s iconic scarlet and grey dress, and how many tons she helped shove black and blue over Mullan Pass while stabled, fed and ploughing for Montana Rail Link? Here on the EWG, she still earns her keep: daily, for the foreseeable future. Rolling, and that unmistakable squeaking of flexing flexicoil trucks and EMD turbo whine fade and vanish into the arctic darkness, my timeless image securely frozen in time.