Thursday, January 25, 2018

PRR and EJ&E Joint Yard (Schererville)

PRR is the Panhandle and NYC is the MC Joliet Cutoff. They cross a little further to the west at the Hartsdale Junction. The NYC track in the upper-right corner is the NS/NYC/Big4/Egyptian route.

Phil Vaclavik posted, rotated and cropped
The primary discussion of this photo is in the Beverly Junction notes
Bob Lalich An observation and question about the top [above] photo. PRR/PC regularly handled metallurgical coal trains destined for USS Gary Works, which were transfered to the EJ&E at Schererville. The locomotives and cabin car would run light to 59th St after dropping the cars at the yard in Schererville. I think the process would be reversed for the return of empties. The top photo does not show a cabin car, which would lead me to think that this was a power balancing move, maybe going to Colehour. Can anyone comment further?
In response to a question I made about Schereville Yard, Bob commented on David's posting
 I was referring to what is labeled "Joint Transfer Yard" in this PRR drawing. A few tracks are still in use.
I include this story post because it provides some insight as to how the yard was used.
David Dutro posted the comment:
A few of you have asked if I would share some additional memories of my friend Fred, so here goes. I will endeavor to relate these stories to you as accurately as I can remember and as they were told to me during my high school years from 1965 to 1969. Before I get into the storytelling portion of this tale, a little more about Fred Pahl.
Fred was about 60 years old when I met him in the summer of 1958, by all respects he was a big man, a little over six feet tall and shaped like an upside-down triangle, when he stood in a doorway, not much light got through. He had bright blue eyes, a booming bass voice, and almost constantly had a cigar in his mouth. I've included a picture of Fred during his early days on the J, he's the second one from the left. I have no idea when or where this picture was taken.
I've titled this one, If I were you, I wouldn’t turn in that time slip.
One of Fred’s favorite things to do was to talk about “the old days”, and the “way things used to be.” Although Fred enjoyed running the “new” diesels, and liked how clean they were as opposed to steam engines, but somehow his story telling always seemed to drift back in time when steam power dominated the EJ&E. Although Fred would never admit to it, I truly believe that’s when he was the happiest. During the course of our friendship I received many lectures about Walsheart, Baker and Stevenson valve gears, dry and superheated steam, the danger of letting the water level fall below the crown sheet, and the best and worst coal to use. (he didn’t have a lot of use for Illinois coal.) Fred’s face showed evidence of having fired and engineered steam locomotives; his face particularly around his eyes, looked like he had blackheads. Once, in a fit of naivety I asked him why he still had blackheads, he glared at me and said blackheads hell, those are cinders. “That’s what happens when you stick your head out the cab window of a steam engine you get cinders in your face, and they don’t come out.” Fred was also hard of hearing, in addition to being able to smell his cigar smoke out in the street, you always knew what was on television at the time. As an aside, he told me the FM Shark was the worst diesel he ever ran, you “had to stick half of your body out the cab window to see to switch” and I “was glad when the “son of a bitch” got returned. There you have it.
One summer evening, while we were sitting on his porch, a local was kicking cars around at close by Lasalle Steel. Fred began to talk about Hartsdale and how “damn” dark and dangerous it was out there at night. He often said how much he hated the place, working there at night was a lot like a blind man taking a walk in the dark. Switching operations had to be done with great care. For those of you who may not be familiar with the area, Hartsdale lies west of Griffith and east of Dyer. Until the early 1970’s it was a busy place. There was a fairly large sized interchange yard and sidings to east of the tower. The EJ&E had an eastbound and westbound wye that connected with the Pennsylvania Logansport line, and interchange tracks with the Michigan Central. Somewhere around an eighth of a mile or so east of Junction (Kennedy) Avenue there was a two-and a half or three story tall wooden platform. In the twenties and thirties, it was common practice for brakemen and switchmen to ride the tops of the cars, as signals were passed back and forth, the man stationed at the top of the platform would pass the signals to head end. If a signal was missed, it could mean a derailment, or someone getting crushed to death between cars. Fred said, there were three hard and fast rules, you had to have a light touch on the throttle, keep one hand on the brake valve and never take your eyes off the guy on the platform. You couldn’t afford make a rough coupling with guys on top of freight cars. Among other kinds of freight, the EJ&E received a considerable number of coal trains destined for US Steel from both railroads, the trains ranged anywhere from seventy-five to one-hundred-and-twenty cars long, and frequently had to be doubled and sometimes even tripled up before departing. The head end would be almost to Griffith while the rear end was all the way back at Hartsdale.
One snowy night they were getting ready to shove a cut of cars around the wye to the Pennsy, when they saw a Pennsylvania crewman running toward their engine. The crewman approached them, and asked for their help, one of their men had fallen between a cut of cars and was dying. They had to wait for the man’s family to be brought to the scene. As long as the train remained coupled together the man remained alive, when it was pulled apart, the man would die almost instantly from blood loss caused by internal bleeding. The Pennsy crew asked Fred and his crew to pull the cars apart once the family said their final farewell. They completed the task and went back to work, he said no one said much, everyone knew it could happen to them. Someone in Fred’s crew announced his intention to time slip for a days work for assisting the Pennsylvania. The rest of the crew, Fred included announced their intention to “beat the shit” out of the guy if he turned in a time slip for helping the Pennsy. I don’t know whether or not the guy ever turned in a time slip, but somehow, I doubt he did. Fred told me the railroad was a self-policing organization, one way or another they “took care of their own”

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