CF&I ore trains in Tales of the Jointed Track

  • Oct. 11, 2018, 11:15 a.m.
  • |
  • Public

I worked many an ore train, when I was in the pool out of Denver. CF&I ( Colorado Fuel & Iron ), smelted ore, in blast furnaces in Pueblo, CO. Hence the name “Pew Town”. Depending on the wind, and the time of day, you could get a whiff, around Bragdon, CO 10 miles north. You would also see the glow, of the night shift, making steel.

We would get refined Red Ore out of Guernsey, WY, off the C&S. Was the ore mined there, I do not know. They came in old coal hoppers, friction bearing or roller bearing trucks. There were no scales, and they were most likely overloaded. I remember looking at those old hoppers, when called on and empty ore drag, the flanges, dug into the car, when bottomed out.

We also got Taconite ore out of Hibbing, Minnesota. These were ore Jennies. These were small stubbed hoppers. They came to Denver in 4500 ton sets, then 6000 ton sets, with a manned helper. Then, as the RCE, fell out of disfavor, in coal service, they decided to send RCE’s into Ore trains. I caught a few. These grew to 11,000 tons of Taconite Ore. The trains were 150 cars, with the Mid-train RCE’s cut in at about 75 to 80 cars.

Ore Drag- Taconite with RCE’s:
We’re still running out of Rice Yard, and I caught one of the Taconite trains, about 500 am. We reported to the C&S 7th Street Roundhouse. A ride was sent and we went to the C&S Yard Office. As an engineer, we rarely came there. It was sacred ground, for the train crews..LOL
Like the Comanche Coal trains, a BN switch crew brought it to Rice Yard, and we got it off the mainline. Orders, permission from the West-end of Rice Yardmaster, and a line up to the southbound, from the Operator, we on the way. Palmer lake was crested, and soon calling the Yardmaster at Pueblo two and a half hours later.

At Pueblo, we were told take it up to Minnequa Yard. Okay, paid 120 miles, and final terminal, pay till overtime takes over, as well as 25 extra miles for delivering the train to Minnequa. Yep at late 1970’s wages, a $175.00 plus trip. Told at Minnequa, up Track 8, double to 10. So, we have RCE’s, how did we do this, because we had to take the power back to Pueblo, plus the caboose.?
Minnequa Track 4 was the designated “siding” . LOL sometimes it was blocked. Pueblo Yardmaster and the Minnequa Yard, Yardmaster with the C&W railroad, co-coordinated, what and how we delivered. Pueblo, would tell us by radio how to deliver in.

So, up Track 8 and Double to 10. The train would, run up “8”, and even though the Caboose reported clear, we’d pull, till the RCE’s showed, The cut was made, behind the RCE’s, an we shoved the RCE’s and the cars into Track 10. A call, to the rear end crew, that heading down Track 10. They counted down, to a stop. The RCE’s were, in set out, and the train pulled up. Now we will re couple, back to Track 8. We’ll shove to the clear on the bottom end, of track 8 to the RCE’s. Back Track 4 or the Minnequa Main, and grab everybody.

I knew how to deactivate the RCE’s, and the Head end. I was always the Goddamned Kid. I was accepted, when the “Conductor” had no clue. The head end to the deactivated RCE’s couple and air test grab the Caboose. Maybe we had to wait, for another Ore drag, we’ll gather those as well. A part, of the operation, a part of the puzzle, Is what it was, and the railroad, before I left was dumb ed down. This has always killed me, really? The knowledge is there or do you want to be a stupid ass. Yeah a stupid ass, BNSF n well I wont go there,

MageB October 12, 2018

Two questions: How is the dog, and can you tell me again what an RCE is please?

Brakeshoe Bob October 13, 2018

Mr Moose went to Board and training while we were in Europe. A totally different Moose. When i call he comes. We sit as needed on the trail for other dogs, he is coming along really well Question 2: RCE's are Remote Controlled Equipment. This is or say was the precursor of the DP(Distributed Power) we have now. It was a consist that was at that time buried about 75 to 80 cars back. You controlled them from the head end. I'll write up another version.

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