home > stories > Train Journal - 1992

 

DUNSMUIR - NORTH

Fri. Jan. 10, 1992 - Sitting in a boxcar in the yard on the WCBRM, waiting for the PTOAT to go by so we can pick up our helpers. It's 6:00 p.m. Now it's 7:15 p.m. and we're out of town. Woke up at 11:30 p.m. in Klamath and had a great ride across the Cascades into Eugene. Got to the yard about 7:45 am and caught out on the OAPTT at 8:45 am - headed for Portland! Got into the Brooklyn yard around noon, ditched the bull (masterfully, I might add) then walked up to a bus stop and caught bus immediately to downtown where I only waited 10 minutes for a bus to Vancouver. Total cost was $1.20 - I'll never make that 3 hour walk again. Got off the bus, hit a market for food and wine and 2 minutes after I set foot in the yard I nailed a grain train headed east. Pretty damn good connections! If I make good time to Wishram, it would have taken me 24 hours to get from Dunsmuir to Wishram, which is quite good, I think. Got into Wishram about 6:00 p.m., got a sandwich at the bar and walked back out past the bridge where a Bend train (681) was waiting for the crew. Left town at 8:00 p.m. and had nice but cold ride down to Klamath. Got in at 7:00 am - 17 degrees but clear. Had breakfast and now (9:00 am) waiting for train. Train finally came in around 11:00 am but didn't leave yard until 12:30 p.m. Had cold ride to Bolam (stopped by detector) where I got off and walked and hitched home. Trip took 45 hours - it'll never be broken! I went almost 900 miles, rode 5 trains on 2 railroads and went through 3 states, all in less than 2 days!

 

BLACK BUTTE - ROSEVILLE?

Tue. Jan. 28, 1992 - It's 3:00 p.m. and I'm hanging out in an empty at Black Butte, waiting for the PTOAT to stop and pick up. He should be here between now and 4:30 p.m. or so. I plan to go to Roseville, then over to Carlin and back along the Modoc. Weather is clear and windy. Warm in the sun but cold in the wind. The JRCIP got here at 4:30 p.m., picked up a couple at the wye and now it's 5:30 p.m. and a depot change in Dunsmuir in a gondola. Had a slow ride down the West Valley line and got into Sac at 1:00 am. Had to get off cuz train was going down the Valley. Caught out at bridge at 2:00 am and almost to Roseville now. Not too cold but pea-soup fog. My train came in on the main and we're waiting by the Amshack for the outbound crew. This is the OAPTT and I have a nice boxcar so I think I'll just ride this back up to Dunsmuir. It's 3:00 am now and naturally we stopped right next to a noisy crossing gate! We finally left at 4:00 am and I had a great sleep until Red Bluff, where I got dropped off at that siding by the mill south of town. Oh well, it happens to the best of us, I guess. I walked a few miles, hitched for an hour, then finally walked a few more miles into town, where I caught a bus to Dunsmuir for $14.70. What a bummer!

 

BLACK BUTTE - KLAMATH

Sat. Feb. 1, 1992 - Well, another day, another train trip. I'm sitting at Black Butte at 5:00 pm, waiting to catch the PTOAT down to Dunsmuir or the WCEUM up to Klamath, where I'd like to go out the Modoc to Wendel. We shall see... It rained a little last night and snowed lightly down to Weed, but the weather now is cool and clearing. The PTOAT finally came in at 5:45 pm and I'm sitting in a gon with rebar while they make their pickup. I should be able to catch the LABRF at 7:00 pm in Dunsmuir. We passed a slow northbound at Azalea so I jumped off my train and onto that one and away we went. Fell asleep almost immediately cuz I got a smooth-riding, wooden-floored boxcar, and didn't wake up until we were on our way up the east side of the Cascades. Oh well, I can see the Modoc some other time. Had great ride over the mountains and got into Eugene at 7:00 am. Train went into the yard and I started to walk up to the departure yard but caught a southbound before I even got there. It looks like the JRCIP and I'm in a gon with rebar, for a change, about 3 cars behind the engines. We were out of the yard by 8:00 am and now we're picking up 4 mid-train helpers at Dougren. Weather is perfectly clear, calm and almost warm. It should be a nice ride over to Klamath. Coming into Oakridge at 9:20 am. Weather is still clear but a little chilly up here. Cascade summit at noon - Klamath at 3:00 PM. Outbound crew's on the train and leaving town at 3:45 pm. This is the JRCIP - I hope he has a pickup at Black Butte. Unfortunately he didn't, and I had to "detrain" at quite a clip at Mott, where I walked to the truck scales and called Shelley.

 

DUNSMUIR - ?

Fri. Feb. 7, 1992 - Again I wait near railroad track - hoping for a doublestack! It's 10:30 am and I'm in the Dunsmuir yard, waiting for whatever comes along. It's nice and clear - this morning was a little cool but it's warm now (57 degrees) and birds are singing. Some winter! There should be the RVPTF soon, as well as a couple of southbounds. I'll take whatever looks good. After sitting in the sun, listening to the birds and drinking wine for a half hour, I've decided to wait for the Klamath man. If I time it right, I'll get there this afternoon, hang out 'till this evening, catch a southbound to get me back to Dunsmuir around midnight, then catch the RVKFM back to Black Butte - wish me luck! Well, it's now 1:00 pm and a west man came by a half hour ago on his way to Castle Crags. It's also 68 degrees now and I'm starting to believe that the RVPTF has gone by already. I'm prepared to spend the afternoon waiting for a northbound. Finally, after a 3 minute depot change I caught a short, mostly pig train at 1:40 pm. Slow going up the canyon. Should be in Klamath in time to catch the Modoc man. Made incredible time to Klamath - 3 hours and 5 minutes (it usually takes 4 hours). Dodged the bull like a pro, ate at Vallier's and now (6:30 pm) I'm waiting for a southbound - I think I'll just go back to Dunsmuir. A very important lesson was just learned... there was supposed to be an EUGJM in the yard (I thought) that was called around the same time as a PTLAF. I figured that the PTLAF would be a lot of pigs, so when a long pig train came in, I hopped aboard, thinking I'd be going down to Dunsmuir. Not so. At about 6:30 pm a long pig train came in and I caught it and rode it into the yard on the westbound main. The crew got off and were bussed away. While I was waiting, a train two tracks over began to pull down to the west end of the yard. I thought it was the Modoc man. While all this was happening, another train changed crew at the depot and flew by me in the yard (the real PTLAF) going south. I later found out (in the nick of time) that the pig train I was waiting for was the Modoc man (unusual) and the train leaving the yard was the Dunsmuir man. Quick thinking and footwork "gained me passage" on that train, and I left the yard at 7:30 pm and got into Black Butte at 10:30 pm. Slept in trees behind reservoir with light rain and now (8:45 am) I'm walking out to McDonald's to call Shelley.

 

BLACK BUTTE - ?

Tue. Feb. 25, 1992 - Shelley took me to Black Butte just as the RVKFM was making his setout. Grabbed a bulkhead and we're out of town at 10:15 am. Beautiful day - clear, calm and warm. I'm going to make another in a series of attempts to see the Modoc. Had perfect ride up to Klamath - got in at 1:00 pm. Hit all the Sallies, ate at the Hobo Junction and went back to the yard where the EUGJM was waiting on track #2. Found mellow wooden-floored boxcar. Got rousted by the bull but went right back and caught out at 5:15 pm. I'm finally headed east! Had great ride to Wendel - unfortunately we got there at midnight and I didn't recognize the place (I haven't been there in 15 years and there ain't much "there" there) so before I could figure out where I was, the train changed crews and took off. So now (7:00 am) I'm having breakfast in Carlin. Called the lineup, walked out to the yard and left town on a westbound at 8:00 am - not bad timing! I'm stuck with the front end of a hopper, but it's not too bad. Weather is clear, calm and reasonably warm. Got into Sparks at 3:00 pm - no problems. Hit store for beer and caught out at 4:00 pm.- should get into Roseville around 9:00 pm. Got in at 8:30 pm, hung around waiting for a few hours and caught out just before midnight on the RVKFM. Got into Dunsmuir at 7:00 am - now 9:00 am and we're headed up to Black Butte and home. I traveled 1,005 miles in 2 days - a new record!

 

DUNSMUIR - KLAMATH

Fri. Apr. 10, 1992 - Overcast but warm morning at the Hobo camp in Dunsmuir. Light drizzle on and off that could turn into rain. Almost noon and the RVPTF should be here anytime with the OAPTT right behind. The maple trees have leaves coming out and the lilacs are blooming already down here! Very lazy and quiet - I could sleep under this tree all day...

 

DUNSMUIR - BLACK BUTTE

Mon. May 4, 1992 - Hanging out in the yard, waiting for the EUM or the PTF. Almost noon and they should be here in the next couple of hours. Quite warm today - 86 degrees in shade and humid. I wish I could find a little breeze somewhere. Oh well, I better get used to this for my Iowa trip. Next time I'll bring fewer warm clothes and a radio. Flies are buzzin', ants are crawlin' and the smell of someone's shit is wafting over to me on a warm breeze - ah yes, the freightyard... Hoboing seems to be a lot of using what's already out there to your advantage - sunlight for warmth, shade to cool off in, etc. You've got to share space with the critters that already live there. Don't complain - adapt! It's now 1:30 pm and still 86 degrees. I hung out next to the river and cooled my heels, it's not as humid and my train should get here soon. I should remember to bring a pair of pliers as well as a wire saw next time, along with a pair of shorts. Well, the afternoon turned into evening, and at 7:30 pm, just as I was getting ready to give up, along came a train and I grabbed a boxcar and had a nice ride up to Black Butte where he took the siding and I got off. I had a great sleep in the trees behind the reservoir and walked into town where Shelley met me.

 

UP THE BRANCH?

Mon. May 18, 1992 - Leaving car in parking lot next to depot in Dunsmuir, waiting for Debbie to pick me up. We're going to meet John in Mt. Shasta and he'll film us riding up to Medford, where Debbie will come back with him and I'll continue up to Roseburg and Eugene, then come back down on the mainline. Weather is warm and muggy here, but there should be some thunderstorms and maybe some rain in the mountains. Well, as often happens when you have several people trying to get their act together at the same time, we got a late start and missed the train at Black Butte. Furious driving allowed us to get to Montague as he was making a pickup and we had a very nice boxcar ride up to Medford from there. They took off and I eagerly awaited a northbound train that didn't work out - there were only about 18 cars with no rides, so I crashed in the old mill near the yard and came back the next day - almost missing the train because the crew went on duty at 4:00 am instead of 5:00 am.

 

DUNSMUIR - ?

Mon. June 1, 1992 - Sitting in Hobo camp in Dunsmuir at 9:00 am on a nice warm, sunny day, waiting to go north. Out of town at 1:15 pm on a hopper with my moniker from 3/9/92 on it! Had nice ride up to Klamath with a refreshing thunderstorm in the canyon above Dunsmuir. Hung out for an hour or so, then caught back down on a hopper with my moniker from 1/11/87 on it! What are the odds of that happening? Had another great ride down and got off in Mt. Shasta after a dynamiter and slept near tracks. Waited for bus in morning then walked home from Weed.

 

DUNSMUIR - ?

Thur. June 11, 1992 - Got to yard at 1:00 pm, hung out in hobo camp for awhile, then LAPCX came in, but bull in civvies and private pickup truck yanked transient off last car, so I beat feet to the bushes. The bull was waiting for the tramp and the train was stopped for 3 minutes at most for the crew change. Bull saw me but just drove away - weird. Anyway, I hung out some more, then a train pulled in and while he was picking up some cars another train came in, but it was real short and I wouldn't have been able to catch it. I did get the first train, and had a good ride up to Andesite on a hopper, but here is where my luck ran out. For some reason I decided to hop off and hitch back home, so I walked down the dirt road towards Hwy. 97 and got a ride in a pickup to the A-12 turnoff, where I hitched unsuccessfully for a half hour. It was 7:00 pm and I thought that if I got a ride soon I could still get home at a reasonable hour, but I thought that I should at least start walking, so that I did, past a sign that said "Weed 10 Miles". On and on I walked, sometimes bothering to turn around and stick my thumb out, sometimes not. About 8:00 or 9:00 pm it started to rain, and I realized that I wasn't going to get a ride so I picked up the pace as best I could and told myself that if it rained too hard I could always crash in the brush along the road, even though it wasn't much in the way of rain protection. By 9:30 I was soaked and still 3 or 4 miles from town, with no phone nearby, so I walked up a dirt road until I found a reasonable sized tree, rolled out my sleeping gear and crawled into my bag. The next 3 hours were spent listening to raindrops hitting my sleeping bag cover and trying to relax on sloping ground. If I opened the bag cover on top to let me breathe while on my back, the rain would come in and keep me awake. If I moved the opening to one side so the rain wouldn't come in, then I had to remember which side the breathing hole was on so I wouldn't wake up gasping for breath if I rolled over the wrong way. Needless to say I didn't have what is known as a "deep sleep". Finally at about 12:30 am the sleeping bag cover had leaked so badly that I was lying in a pool of ice-cold water, so I gave up, dressing in a pouring rain with a flashlight held in my mouth, pants, socks and shirt soaked, but with a grin on my face that said "It doesn't get any worse than this". It did. It was now almost 1:00 am and I had a long walk ahead of me with blisters already forming on my feet from the wet socks. Not even bothering to hitch, I plodded onward, thinking that I would call Shelley from the first phone that I happened across. My blisters caused me to walk with a funny gait, but walk I did until I finally found a phone at the 97 Mini Mart and woke Shelley up at 2:15 am and she met me at the market in Weed at 2:30 am. A more relaxing shower I have never had, and after hobbling around for a few days I'm feeling fine now. I walked about 11 miles in about 4 ½ hours. No more.

 

DUNSMUIR - MONTANA?

Thur. Aug. 6, 1992 - Well, here I am again in the Hobo camp in Dunsmuir. It's a hot afternoon at 4:00 pm and I'm waiting to go north on the RVKFM, due in about 5:00 or 5:30 pm. The plan is to take him to Klamath, then wait for the LABRF (about 2 hours behind) and ride him to Portland where I walk or take a bus to the Albina yard, then east on UP to Pocatello and north to Silver Bow, MT. We'll see how things turn out. The weather is hot and dry with drift smoke from forest fires. It'll be nice to get up to Oregon and some cooler weather. I caught out around 5:00 pm and rode up to Black Butte. There were lots of cars dropped off for the Medford train so I decided to hang around and ride it the next day with Ed (so much for elaborate travel plans). The next day, Friday, Ed and I rode up to Medford on one of the last, if not the last, trains on the Siskiyou Branch. Ed's wife picked us up in Medford and drove us back to Ed's car at Black Butte and he gave me a ride to Dunsmuir. Just as I was climbing into my sleeping bag the LABRF pulled in and I grabbed a pig to Klamath, then switched to a double-stack. No sign of the bull at all. Made it from Dunsmuir to Klamath in 2 ½ hours!!! Had nice, fast ride over Cascades and got into Eugene at 5:30 am - 5 ½ hours!!! No sign of the bull in Eugene, either. Had another fast ride to Portland - 2 ½ hours!!! Unfortunately, there was sign of the bull in Portland, but I eluded him as usual. Caught bus to town and walked over bridge to outskirts of Albina yard. Now waiting for east train at 10:00 am on Sat. Out of town on a double-stack at 12:45 pm. Had fast, smooth ride to Hinkle - got in at 6:00 pm. Talked to brakeman on westbound export grain train on siding who said that the train that I wanted to catch out of Pocatello was probably on a Tue.-Thur.-Sat. schedule due to trackwork, so I decided to turn around and come back, cuz it would have taken too long to do my loop trip. I nailed a grainer on his train and got back into Portland at midnight. I then endured the "delightful" walk down to the Brooklyn yard, where I ended up waiting until 4:00 am for a train before I fell asleep. It only took about an hour for the walk - not too bad. After a few hours sleep in a boxcar in the yard my train left and I got to Eugene around noon, hit the store and waited until 5:30 pm for a Modoc train to leave. Slept on a flatcar with lumber and had a good ride over the Cascades. Got into Klamath at 12:30 am. Crashed in yard and now I'm waiting at the usual signal bridge for the JRCIP. He was supposed to be here at 6:30 am and it's now 12:15 pm and I'm still waiting. Bailed off at Black Butte.

 

DUNSMUIR - KLAMATH

Wed. Aug. 19, 1992 - 8:30 pm on a hot evening and I'm waiting at the north end of the yard for the LABRF. Plan to just turn around at Klamath Falls. Sat up until 12:30 am when I started falling asleep - still no train! Got in my bag and sometime in early morning the train came in, but I was too tired to get up. Finally got up at 6:00 am and now I'm waiting again. Maybe I'll get the RVPTF or ? Major bummer - hassled by bull in yard, got citation, went to court, over $300 in fines so had to do 83 hours of "community service" - not to mention 3 years probation! To say that I'm "upset" with the bull and the judge is putting it mildly!

 

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