home > stories > Train Journal - 1993

 

BLACK BUTTE - ?

Sun. Feb. 21, 1993 - Well, here I am again - sitting in a boxcar, waiting for a train, bottle of wine at my side. It's 1:30 pm on a windy, cold, snowy day. So what else is new? Every so often the clouds part, causing instant blindness from the snow, but it's not too bad. We'll see what happens out here on a Sunday. Strangely enough, at 3:00 pm a northbound pulled into the siding and I found a nice boxcar to ride. After a southbound went by we took off and had a nice ride up to Klamath. Got here at 6:00 pm. Light fog and snowing (what else?). There should be a southbound around 8:30 pm. Having chili and coffee at Vallier's. Well, as often happens, the train that was supposed to be here at 8:30 pm was bumped up to 9:30, but actually got into the yard on time, except he hung around until just after midnight waiting for Amtrak. Just as well, though, as I was able to catch up on some sleep in a boxcar at the end of the train. Aside from some "harmonic rocking" the ride down was OK and I got into Dunsmuir at about 4:30 am in a pretty good snowstorm. I walked down to the yard but no cars to sleep in, so I walked back up to the bridge and had a marginal sleep from 5:30 am until 7:30, then waited for the bus into Mt. Shasta, then the bus into Weed, then walked home.

 

BLACK BUTTE - PENOYER

Fri. Mar. 5, 1993 - Got to Black Butte in morning and waited only about a half hour until northbound stopped. Rode wooden-floored boxcar up to Penoyar where we passed a train slowly (JRCIP?) so I "switched trains" and grabbed a gondola and had a nice ride on a sunny day back to Dunsmuir. Caught a transit bus to Weed and walked home.

 

BLACK BUTTE - ?

Sat. Mar. 13, 1993 - Hanging out at "camp" in trees on an overcast but warm day. It's 1:00 pm and a northbound should be stopping here soon. Soon was right - at 1:05 the train came into the yard. Found the only open boxcar and now we're on a nice ride around Mt. Shasta. Should get into Klamath around 4:30 pm. Got in at 4:00 pm. Had chili and immediately caught the PCX back. Somebody called the cops and said that someone was trying to break into trailers on the train, so the CHP stopped the train south of Dorris, "detrained" me, and I hitched to Weed.

 

BLACK BUTTE - ?

Mon. Mar. 22, 1993 - Hanging out in a boxcar on a dark, stormy afternoon. Plan to catch the first northbound that stops - probably this evening. Weather is supposed to be big-time rain for the next few days. Weather report was right on the money. Got train at 10:30 pm and didn't get into Klamath until 6:30 am because of a dynamiter and possible broken drawbar. Grabbed a doughnut at the market and caught a southbound grain car in about a half hour. Bailed off at Black Butte, walked to town, bussed to off-ramp and walked home.

 

BLACK BUTTE - ?

Mon. Apr. 12, 1993 - A nice warm, sunny day at Black Butte. No wind, no rain and no trains. Since this is just after a holiday weekend (Easter) everything is running slow. A northbound train (RVBNM) that was supposed to be in Dunsmuir at 5:00 pm has now been bumped up to 7:45 pm. Oh well, there are lots of cars to sleep in - both storage tracks as well as the south siding are full. I'll just get some sleep later and catch out tonight. It's 5:30 pm. Caught out during the night sometime and had usual ride up to Klamath and back.

 

OAKLAND - DUNSMUIR

Tue. Apr. 27, 1993 - Drove down to Santa Rosa with Bruce. Took Golden Gate Transit to the City and BART to Oakland. Walked to Desert yard and waited from 8:00 pm until 4:00 am. The only trains out were the OADVF (4 cars!) and the OAPTT (long pigs). Finally caught the WSRVM in the yard and had slow (6 hour) ride to Roseville. Got in at 10:00 am, hung out around town/yard all day, then at 5:30 pm caught the RVBNM from the Rockpile yard and had another slow ride up here, where I slept through Dunsmuir but fortunately we stopped at Black Butte at 5:00 am. Slept for a few hours, walked into town, took bus to off-ramp and walked home.

 

DUNSMUIR - ROSEVILLE

Sat. May 7, 1993 - Shelley dropped me off at the Hobo camp north of town on a beautiful spring day - blue skies, puffy clouds and just a hint of a breeze now and then. The temperature is at "equilibrium" - not too warm and not too cool. Every so often a breeze comes by and it gets cooler - just as it should - and when the breeze stops, it's right back to being "pleasant", just as it should. The river is a soft murmur and birds are singing. I could take a long nap if I wanted to. It's 2:00 pm - temperature is 65 degrees. This is how a day should be spent - under a shade tree - the sun is warm, not hot - the shade is cool, not cold, and there is a breeze, not a wind.

Well, my "euphoria" dwindled rapidly the longer I waited. It's now 6:00 pm and there have been 4 northbounds but no southbounds. Anyway, the weather is still nice and there are 3 or 4 trains called in the next 4 hours, so all is not lost. Finally about 6:30 pm I heard a whistle north of town and jumped up, ready to leap aboard. Unfortunately, the train kept right on going into the yard. Having no choice, I sped after it. Upon reaching the yard, however, the train was not to be found - it had gone on down to the siding at Castle Crags. Feeling like a horse with a carrot, I kept walking down the yard, and to my delight the PTLAF came by with stacks and pigs and stopped at the south end, where I eagerly hopped aboard and off we went - no bull in sight. Got into Roseville around 2:00 am and slept in same boxcar that I did on 2/26/92. Up at 6:30 am, called Bruce (who's going to meet me here) and now I'm having breakfast at a new cafe in Old Town. Wandered around for awhile then parked myself in alley behind bus station where I spent the morning talking to various groups of tramps - there have been almost a dozen so far. It's now 10:30 am and Bruce should be here soon. Naturally, as soon as you find a nice quiet, shady place to hang out they pull a string of reefers up next to you, but I've got my earplugs in and it's not too bad. Bruce got there right on time and we had a great drive down to So. Calif.

 

WEST COLTON - BLACK BUTTE

Thur. May 13, 1993 - After about a 5 minute stay in smoggy So. Calif. I caught out on the uphill side of the bridge yesterday. I started out on a bulkhead flat but near the top of Cajon we stopped and I hoofed it back to the end of a mile-long train to get a boxcar with both doors open. Had fast but bumpy ride up to Bakersfield (1 minute crew change) and all night through the Valley, getting into Roseville at 8:00 am. Got supplies and now (11:45 am) I'm waiting to go north. Well, just like last time I waited around all day and ended up going back to the Rockpile yard and catching out in a nice boxcar at 10:00 pm - ugh! Had smooth ride up north but went in the hole alot, getting into Dunsmuir at 6:00 am. Now I'm waiting to see if the train is going to stop at Black Butte. Ended up he wasn't but caught the local an hour or so later to BB and got home the usual way.

 

DUNSMUIR - ?

Mon. July 26, 1993 - I'm in the woods (the "star thistle" would be more like it) on the freeway side of the yard, waiting to go north. It was hot today but now (7:00 pm) it's finally starting to cool off. Thank goodness Hay Fever season is just about over cuz I'm lying in the middle of alot of grass. Earlier in the year this place was nice and green but now it's dry grass, star thistle and poison oak. Train got in around 9:00 pm. Found nice wooden-floored boxcar and waited a long time for the train to leave. Finally went to sleep and woke up at Kegg around 2:30 am. Slept a little after that and got into Klamath at 4:30 am. Wandered/hung out until 5:30 am when southbound pulled into yard. Waiting for him to leave now. It's 6:45 am. Nice day.

 

DUNSMUIR - ROSEVILLE

Thur. Aug. 19, 1993 - Shelley dropped me off in the yard around 6:00 pm. My train was already there, waiting for other trains to clear.

 

DUNSMUIR - ROSEVILLE

Thur. Sept. 9, 1993 - Hanging out just below bridge north of depot. It's 7:30 pm on a cool evening after a hot day. A southbound is coming down the hill and I'm ready to catch it here or jam down to the yard, where the LABRF is waiting for it's crew to go north. I'm going to meet John Elstad in Roseville and we're going to ride up to Klamath, where I'll turn around and come back and he'll continue up to Washington. I'm not looking forward to Roseville in the day, as my thermometer registered 110 degrees today up here! Oh well, that's train riding!

 

McCLOUD - LOOKOUT

Tue. Sept. 28, 1993 - Left my truck at market in Weed and took transit bus to McCloud. Got there at 8:30 am. Walked to yard and train left at 9:30 am - 5 car train! Rode boxcar with one door open only 3' to Lookout, getting here at 2:00 pm. Now waiting for BN to Klamath. It's now 3:15 pm. Hung out in stored boxcar until 5:30 pm. Asked section foreman about train and he said it already went by this morning! Great! Hitched to town of Lookout, then into Nubieber, then finally got to Bieber, where I crashed on lumber car in yard. Nice night with almost full moon. Only drawbacks were mosquitoes and loud geese. Had breakfast in morning, walked into Bieber to market, walked back, and now (12:50 pm) I'm waiting under bridge for train. It should get here between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. The UP man got in around 3:00 pm and left about a 50 car train at the far (and I do mean far) end of the yard. After walking about halfway down to it I saw the BN man come in and stop under the bridge. The crew went to eat and I walked down and found another boxcar. They should be done eating around 5:00 pm. Well, after switching in the yard for an hour we finally got our air at 7:00 pm! Just in time, cuz the mosquitoes are out in full force.

 

DUNSMUIR - SPARKS

Sat. Oct. 15, 1993 - Shelley dropped me off in Dunsmuir to wait for a southbound. I'm sitting at the Hobo camp near the bridge north of town. There should be a train coming into Black Butte soon (it's almost 2:00 pm) and a few more due in here around 5:00 pm. I'm going to go to Roseville tonight and then catch out east hopefully before morning for Sparks to meet Bruce. The weather is cloudy and slightly windy. Winter seems just around the corner. It snowed down to 6,000' or so last night with rain at my place, and a few inches of snow fell at Donner. As long as there's no wind it's not too cold at all. One of these years I've got to remember to bring cardboard along!

 

BLACK BUTTE - KLAMATH

Wed. Nov. 10, 1993 - Parked my truck at McDonald's and walked to Black Butte. Light but steady rain with maybe the first "storm" of the season. Hung out in empty for awhile then Black Butte Turn came in and dropped train off on south siding. Crew said northbound should pick them up around 12:30 or 1:00 pm. Found another empty and I'm here waiting - it's 11:30 am. Rain is picking up with light wind but not too cold. This should be a good test of rain gear, if nothing else! My train came in at 1:45 pm and we're "out of town" at 2:10 pm - headed north!

 

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