Two pictures here, and two stories to go with them. The first story I'll introduce is one of the blues. The train
is the Blue Streak Merchandise on the Cotton Belt Railroad. The second is a from the cab shot looking toward the
Commerce, TEXAS depot. Click on the photos for larger views.
Terry Kirkland and I were on our way back from Reader, Arkansas along US 67 one early December day
when we spotted a train in the Cotton Belt siding at Maude, Texas. The train was the northbound Pacific
Sunset East (PSSE) train with two U33Cs up front. The head brakeman got out of the cab and stood on the ground to observe
a southbound train. Terry being a railroad employee went and asked the brakeman what was going on. He learned the first section of the Blue Streak Merchandise was on the way, it soon showed up behind two
SD45s, a U25B and a pair of U33Cs. It was awesome seeing a freight train race past at high speed through Maude. Ten minutes
later on his block another section of the Blue showed up with an SD45 leading four U33Cs.
Another fast train on its way South. I can still feel the radiated heat waves boiling up the cut from those trains. Speed limit on the Cotton Belt main line
for the Blues was 70 mph and those trains were doing every bit of that.
This photo was taken from the jump seat of a GP9 at Commerce, TEXAS. I was invited up into the cab several
times by the crew of the Commerce-Greenville Dodger as they switched about Commerce Yard making up their train. Cab experiences
in a Cotton Belt GP9, a Southern Pacific GP35 and a Chesapeake & Ohio GP30 were had. Once I got to ride all the way to
Greenville on a leased C&O GP30. I got to sit on the jump seat next to the head brakeman. It was neat riding the rails from that vantage point as the Geep swayed along on the rails. Watching the
engineer as he went about the business of controlling the train, blowing the horn for the grade crossings and just looking
ahead along the right of way. In Greenville the Geep went about its work serving the Cotton Belt’s customers. The interesting part was watching the wheel slip indicator light flash
orange on and off as the Geep struggled for traction. The engineer commented
on how slippery that C&O Geep was. Local service on the Cotton Belt was something.