The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on July 27, 1969 · Page 10
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July 27, 1969

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 10

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Des Moines, Iowa
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Sunday, July 27, 1969
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Page 10
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-to-L.A. Freight - Faster Than Super Chief By Fred Ff alley (DM Moln«s Jefllstjr-CWyoo Sun-Times News strvic*) CHICAGO, ILL. - This is no prosaic freight train. Every morning when it leaves' Chicago and streaks across the flat fields of Illinois, the dispatchers clear a path for the Super C, and important, Santa Fe railroad executives who occupy carpeted offices al headquarters keep in touch to confirm that their pel trnin is where it should be when it should he. In fact, this country has never had a frc-ight train like the Super ('. If you're a shipper, It costs $1,400 to put a piggyback truck trailer atop one of its flatcars. But for that your products in the trailer can be driven out of the Los Angeles yard to your customer a guaranteed 40 hours later. The vSante Fe's fastest passenger train takes 90 minutes longer and, God willing, the Super C can beat its own schedule by as much as four hours. t left Chicago al 8:15 a.m. Ahead of the caboose were three red and silver locomotives and 10 flatcars bearing truck trailers. Cruising at 80 Not until we cleared .lolict, 111., did the engineer really wind up the locomotives and put us on an 80 m.p.h. cruising speed. In front, I could see the trailers swaying hypnotically, and further ahead the t r a c k s I d e block signals showing green . . . green The Texas Chief slammed past, us doing 90 m.p.h. on the second main track, followed by one, then two, finally three eastbound freights. Then, just the other side of Galesburg, 111., we were rudely halted in a rainstorm. Joe Elliott, an engine foreman keeping us company in the caboose, smelled smoke from hot brake shoes under our. feet. Soon the hottest train on the railroad stood still. Elliott and the rear brakemen piled off and went ahead. "We busted an alrhose," muttered the conductor beside me. Wanting to be helpful, I found a spare air- hose in the caboose locker and took it and a massive wrench to the two men. We were back up to 80 m.p.h. when the same thing happened again. Elliott put 0,1 another new hose, and this time used some wire he found in the caboose to hold the hose far up from th'e roadbed, so that the gravel rocks wouldn't fly up and cut the tough rubber. That trick seemed to work, because we had no further trouble. At 12:04 p.m., we stopped for three minutes in Fort Madison, la., for the second of 17 crew changes. We were 228 miles, 233 minutes from Chicago, having averaged 59 m.p.h. Not bad, considering those two unscheduled stops cost us 20 minutes. The Super C ran uninterrupted for the next 112 miles to Marceline, Mo., averaging 68 miles an hour. At Marceline, a small railroad town like a dozen others we would see, the four-man crew, after operating the train for 98 minutes, finished their day's work and were replaced by four more who would take us to Kansas City, Mo. in two hours. Then be off duty themselves. "It's nice work, except that you're never sure what time of day or night you'll be called for a train, the conductor who got off at Fort Madison said. Indeed, it must be nice work. Into Kansas City at 3:3* p.m., out at 4:31 after setting out six flatcars of trailers containing U.S. mail and taking on seven new ones. Just west of Kansas City we flew by the east- hound Super C with its four rliesels and 13 ears. It would be in Chicago shortly after midnight. The bustling little county seat of Olathe was passed at 5 p.m. Opened Throttle The engineer opened the throttle to the last notch and predicted he'd be stepping off the train at Emporia, Kan., 90 miles away, at 6:15 p.m. He would have., too, except that he had to "slow for several minutes when the dispatcher moved Super C from one main line to the other. As it turned out, I bid good- by to him in Emporia at 6:18 p.m. By 11 o'clock, I had been 15 hours on that freight train. The noise of the caboose and of the locomotives had been in my ears so long and the train had relentlessly pursued its goal of Los Angeles with so few pauses, that 1 welcomed the unexpected stop at Mooreland in the Oklahoma panhandle. We ground to a halt be- • heat sensing device which scan* axle* of passing train* had picked np evidence of • hotbox. For nine minute* the Super C sat In Mooreland. I spent a good deal of the time between Winslow and Seligman, Ariz., 14,1 miles to the west, watching our engineer, John Campbell, a 25- year veteran on the right- hand side of S a n t a Fe engines. What fascinated me was the complexity of running a locomotive, especially over a mountainous, curving roadbed where you're running full out one minute, casing off to a slower speed the next and then throwing the throttle operi again, A locomotive, of course, I* not a car and It Isn't run like one, either. Campbell did not have Jtnt AM brake to work with, but three: one applied brake* to the, engines alone, another to the entire train and the third n*ed the traction motors themselves as a braking force. Campbell worked the throttle and his various brakes like a maestro directs an orchestra - and with all the confidence of a seasoned artist. "I love running freights," Campbell told me. "If President Nixon knew about my job, he'd use seniority rights to bump me and run them himself. Every trip is differ- ent. Every tralh has to be handled differently and something new is always happening, t like the challenge." Campbell braked the Super C to a stop in Seligman 2 hours, I? minutes out of Winslow. The average speedj»as «2 m.p.h. — the Super Chief averages SO — and Campbell was sorry he didn't make it 10 minutes quicker as he had wanted. Finally the Super C neared the end of its run. The last crew came on at San Bernardino, Calif., to take us into L.A.'s Hobart Yard. And what a ride they gave us. W. L.'While, a road foreman of 'engines Jftst transferred from a Santa Fe divi- Des Moin«t\Sund«y Regiltef July 11, IW 10*6 G«fl«r«l Swlion v IV * sfon In Te*a«, let fo •• tt he were on a stallion. A mile from the yard, White still had the speedome- / ter stuck on 60. We entered / the yard at a more respect- / able 20 m.p.h. and at 1:21 • p.m. came to a stop — a half continent and M hours, 14 minutes from Chicago. Within half an hour, the II trailers we carried would be on the street. ^^- This is the end of our fiscal year ... Huge Savings NOW before we take our annual inventory Just once a year for this big sale! Price reductions on top of price reductions! This is the sale where we make final adjustments in our huge, sprawling inventories. We must prepare for inventory "counting time which starts with the end of our fiscal year July 31st.' Tomorrow Four Days! USE GINSBERGS CONVENIENT BUDGET TERMS Here is a typical example of savings in this Sale! BEDROOM ENSEMBLE • Triple Dresser • 5 Drawer Chest • WOULD SELL REGULARLY FOR $679.50 . Thornasville has captured the Drama.of Spanish Grandeur, reminiscent M of Spain? antiques. Note the characteristic Spanish motifs: the weighty shaped blocks of the solid oak drawer fronts; deep carved mullion doors and the Quatrefoil pattern of the headboard. 'See Antigua! It's furniture you'll be proud to own. SAVE $100 isigiiuiHiiipiiitiiiiiiipiiiiiHiiiiii'iiiiBPii'iiiniiiiM K 1 PERUGIA BEDROOM ENSEMBLE J BY STANLEY J " I Reg. $469.50 full size bed and triple dresser. Natural Pecan finish. Bed takes full or queen size bedding, 64" dresser has matching framed mirror. Save $100 I I iiiiHiiiiwimM^ i«IUilWiWW l«il!l«iil!lll»l««'| I KROEHLER j I NATURAL PECAN BEDROOM I = ^.I Reg. $554 suite includes full or queen size bed, with I 72" triple dresser and matching T | framed mirror. Polenesian in design. \ All drawers concealed by doors. Ball t bearing slides. Save $105 ': T= 5 ^^'l.tll'lli,. IliiiK'liJ^i/J.ljI-^^if+llF'S ITALIAN PROVINCIAL BEDROOM BY BASSETT size bed Reg. $357 in natural Pecan. Full or queen and 72", nine drawer triple dresser, with matching framed mirror. Combination drawer and door front. Save $80 i^:>iWiiiiiii!!iai!iipii!n«iiiH!iiH OPEN MONDAY 9:30 AM to 9 PM :' : iV^''!l: :l " :l :i ! ''J iVt-^^'Slllil^ BROYHILL BEDROOM SUITE Reg. $489.50 bed, chest and triple dresser. 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