Guest post by Frederick Manfred Simon.
September 16, 2016
for the trace of sunlight on the distant wheat country horizon, the sun
has retracted its warming rays and left a crystal clear pale blue sky
for the stars to emerge and begin to twinkle in. With the empty grain
hoppers dropped and spotted; loaded ones picked up; the terminal brake
test completed, it’s time to start heading homeward, towards
Cheney, sixty some miles eastbound on what was once the Northern
Pacific’s, later Burlington Northern’s “CW” branch that reaches Coulee
City. One the last bastions of covered wagons and first generation
geeps that brought long trains of 40-foot wheat service boxcars in and
out with six or more unit consists in the 1980’s. The wagons and geeps
are long gone just as the NP and BN are, predecessors of today’s BNSF.
The line itself is now in the hands of the State and operated by the
Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad using six-axle Dash 2’s and Dash 8’s
with plenty of tractive effort to muscle fifty-car-plus loaded ACF and
PS2 covered hoppers but only at 10 miles an hour. With only a few hours
left to work for this crew means another must bring the train into
Cheney from wherever this one ties down at.