Klamath Chronicles

Sun. June 29, 1997

Got to the Dunsmuir yard at 7:15 pm - overcast but warm. To my delight there was a northbound on the siding but no crew yet. Walked back about halfway down the train and found a boxcar just as the LABRF flew up the main. Now 7:30 pm and light rain falling.

7:40 pm - another northbound pulls in on track #10. One of the most vexing problems facing train riders today rears its ugly head - which one do I take? Which one do I take? Strategically placing myself between the two trains, ear glued to the scanner, oblivious to the rain, I wait...

I catch a glimpse of a white Bronco-like vehicle driving by on the other side of the second northbound - the bull? the crew bus? Beats me... Not sure as to which train is the DUMBUM (the local to Black Butte) or a through train, I call the Phone Trace, enter the number of the car I'm in, and find out that it's on the OAEUM and due into Eugene at 7:00 am the next morning! Now I know that I'm on the right train and when I'll get to Eugene - very cool, eh?

Well, so much for technology! I got up at 3:00 am to take a leak and noticed that another northbound had pulled into #6 track, next to my train, and on the other side of him was another string of cars that weren't there before. I also noticed that it was still raining... Heading back to the warmth of my bag, I figured I'd wait until my train left, even if another one pulled out first, so I wouldn't have to run around the yard looking for a car in the rain.

Woke up around 5:30 am but nobody moved. Dozed off for awhile but at 8:00 am I was getting bedsores from sleeping so much so I decided to roll up my gear, in the hopes that this simple action on my part would magically get the trains moving. Turning on the scanner in the nick of time, I heard that they were going to double #6 track over to #10 and leave town. Quickly alighting from my boxcar in a steady rain, I bagged another one as they pulled the train up to the switch, and around 9:00 am I was finally headed north.

Thinking the rain might be confined to the immediate canyon, my hopes were dashed when I saw solid cloud cover all the way to the Oregon border. After stopping for a half hour at Upton we made good time to Kegg, where we've been stopped now for over an hour. One southbound went by as soon as we got here but why we're being held for another one escapes me. My initial plan to go to Eugene has been scrapped, due to the rain and the fact that, without long underwear or rain pants, the 12 hour ride back in, more than likely, a gondola doesn't seem at all interesting right now. There was fresh snow down to about 6,000' on Mt. Shasta when I came by this morning and tomorrow is July 1!

Got into Klamath at 4:00 pm - got a room at the Maverick Motel and cruised around town for an hour or so. Went back to my room, showered and watched TV for a few hours then went to sleep around 10:00 pm. Woke up at 4:00 am so I could stop at the freight office and check out the yard while it was still dark. Only one southbound due at 7:30 am but he'd probably get tied down in the yard. Hit Gino's for breakfast at 6:00 am and hung out north of depot. Now 10:00 am and heard on the scanner that the "7:30" train is coming in and he will, indeed, get tied down. Rats!

It's now 3:30 pm. Fortunately the weather has been perfect - a gentle, warm breeze with overcast but not threatening skies. The last several hours were spent lounging on the back of a grainer on the "7:30" train, but now another southbound has pulled in next to it so I'm hanging out near the units so I can watch which train the first crew gets on (if they ever get here). Had a nice chat with Roger - he drives an "unmarked" Bronco now - no light bar, no spotlight, no "Railroad Police" on the side, as per UP's new rules. He still has the ol' "X-ray vision", though. Pretty soon I will have been waiting for 12 hours for a southbound. The only one I missed was the Garbage Train just before noon and a pig that Roger was eyeballing.

Finally, after letting the back-to-back SELAZ and BRLAI pigs go by, we followed them out of town at 4:45 pm!

An earlier stop at Dickie's Mini Mart for a bottle provided much of the entertainment for the afternoon, and, after a delicious sleep, we're stopped at the east switch at Mt. Hebron at 5:45 pm in weather that began as almost marble-sized hail and now is a somewhat steady downpour. Naturally, the 10% of my body that was getting wet when we were moving increased to 80% now that we're stopped, and I felt it necessary to keep up my "fluid intake" so as not to become dehydrated in the "dry" weather...

Noting that I had on almost my full complement of "winter" clothing, the fact that it was the first day of July became the foremost thought on my mind. This "El Nino" stuff is here, man! After almost a half hour on the north end of a grainer in a cold north wind, the pigs were far enough ahead of us to continue.

In at Kegg for two northbounds, we're out again in a half hour. Had a nice sleep until we stopped for a meet at Grass Lake at 8:00 pm and was almost overpowered by the smell of wet sage, not to mention being cold because of the 5,101' elevation. Treated to thunder, lightning and a beautiful sunset, we began our descent at 9:00 pm after two more northbounds go by.

Another stop at Azalea at 11:00 pm to let two more northbound go by and a fast ride down into Dunsmuir, where I bail off in a light drizzle at midnight. Why is it that when you want to go in one direction there's no trains for half a day, then when you're coming back you go into every siding to let a couple go by?