U.S. Soldiers Home, Sheridan Bldg., Washington, D.C 20315
You have heard of dreams? Well I had one and what a dream. I'll bet every old hogger will wish he could have the same kind if he ever reads this. I dreamed I went to steam locomotive heaven.
I was outside a big high wall with a single track going in, but there was a big solid gate across so you couldn't see in. And who do you think opened the gate?? The old legend hogger himself Casey Jones!
He said the main pin and the yardless asked him to show me around. Well Sir, there was a ladder track run plum to the other end looked to me like three or four miles long and engines on both sides. It looked like it was just about full. I'd say there were three or four hundred acres of engines there! Casey said he was kind of busy. 'Now, on this side is all the high steppers and over heres the powerful gals. These hoggers will talk to you. Just ask 'em.'
So, I was on my own and what a time I had. There was a hogger and tallow pot with most of them gals, but a lot of 'em hadn't signed in yet. There was the wood burners with the balloon stacks, diamond stacks, cabbage stacks and the shotguns. And there was the 999 she was dressed uphad her brand on. She belonged to the N.Y.C.H.R. Empire. She was a 4-4-0 shotgun stack, with pretty high heels. This old hogger watching her told me all about her and her famous run. His name was Charlie Hogan. He said he really let her step out on that one! Said she was built for fast rolling. Her slippers were 84 inches highher cylinders 19 x 24 inches.
On down the line and there was another beautiful lady and was she dressed up? Orange and a little black, white and maroon in the right places. She was a 4-8-4, her no. 4352, S.P. brand. She was the gal that used to pin on the famous daylite varnish and step out along the Pacific Coastpull up at the end of her run without a long breath, get a drink at the Company spout, take on a tank of mud, nuzzle her way into a stall to be groomed down and looked over by the barn crew. Then she was ready for the big turn. She belonged to the Espee Harem.
Now this was the big gal. She was built for doing her part too, but she needed a little help when she got in Indian country going out of Shy-Ann over the Sherman hump with her varnish; but in level country she could step with the best of them! She belonged to the U.P. and she was on the head end of the Overland. She was a legend in the West.
The next gal was a 4-8-4 high heel Northern type, close built and held her head high, for she could be proud of what she had done. She had tied on to the Q's Zephyrs and nuzzled the speed up against the 100 mark on the hi-iron through the tall corn for the C. B. & Q.
Then, on down the line, I ran into a Wonder. She was a big Texas gal, strickly brunette - had on her high heels. She was big and beautiful, just like everything in Texas. She was a 2-10-4 and looked like she was wan tin' to romp across the plains again and I guess she did, for she used to hustle the tin cans out of that Lone Star Empire before the days of the big inch towards the risin' sun.
Now, here is another gal that didn't take a back seat for none. She wore the U.P. brand. She was hi-steppin' 4-8-4. She and her sister used to hi-ball with the crack varnish and hot-shot freights. She was known as one of the 800's. The hogger told me she always wanted to go so bad she would slip her slippers, but when she got line out she was second to none. She used to make awful pretty music in the canyons out Ogden Way.
Now this gal was very pretty too. You could tell she had hit the high spots in her day, but she was still a gracious lady. She was kinda dosin' like in the sun, but you could tell the big call would send new life through her. She was the gal that used to get up before daylight, sneak out of K.C. and head south tryin' to beat the sun to San Antonio haulin' the Sunshine Special over the Katy riffions of rust.
Now - here she is fellows! The one we have all heard about from many places. She's tall, kinda slim and she was built for rollin'. She was made famous by song as she traveled down the valleys, through the cuts, over the rivers and round the bends. The old pig mauler and the ash cat probably could have talked all day about her for that's the gal that used to roll the Cannon Ball over the Wabash right away.
Now here is a wonder of the hi-iron. I would call her a Hudson type gal! She was a high heel gal and Mr. I could have looked at her all day. She looked kind a mad because she was in there, I guess you could hear her hiss once in awhile. She wore the C. & A. brand said she used to step out with the Abraham Lincoln in Honest Abes beloved land.
And here was her sistersame brand that pulled the Ann Rutledge. Abes first fair lady love. Now, last of the hi-steppin gals I looked at, but not the least. She was good size, long and powerful. And she was a stepper in her day, streamlined too. She used to come howling down out of the north one jump ahead of that Indian brave, Hiawatha, headed for the Windy City over the C.M.S.P. hi-iron.
Then I got over on the other side of the ladder to look at some of the real big powerful gals. And there was some pretty good size gals there too. To stand off and look at 'em, it looked like they was kinda dozin' with but a half smile on. Reminded me of Aunt Jemima and Luzeanne on the coffee can just waitin' for the hi-green. There brands G & O, B & O, N & W, U. P. and Espee. These gals could sneak back in the hills, tie onto a black snake loaded 125 tons long and shake the countryside rollin' the black diamond and real estate out to the big cities at a clip you could hardly believe or they could raise the yellow reefers up over the Rockies headin' for the east with your fruit and juices. It's just all in their job and they seem to enjoy it. They never looked tired. They were just too proud and beautiful to have to stay in there much longer. They all seemed to be listening for the big call.
Then here was a different kind of gal altogether. She was a long powerful histepper and she didn't cut em off at the stack. She kinda sawed at the stack. She had gone turbine on us. Her no. 6200 and she wore the Keystone brand. The hogger that broke her hadn't signed in yet so they didn't know too much about her, but the old Pennsy hogger told me the man that broke her made a record run one time on the Pennsy-iron from Fort Wayne to the Windy Citysaid he would like to talk to him about it sometime.
So, as I was just about to leave, there was the old legend hoggers' engine. She was a ten wheeler no. 382, shotgun stack and carried the I. C. brand. When Casey and his loyal colored fire-man, Sim Weff, climbed aboard that fatal night. It was like any other to them, only the Cannonball Express was one hour and fifteen minutes late. Casey wasn't worried for he had a good steam-maker. He got her on the hi-iron, put on her hi-heels and she went swingin' through the night with her whistle calling the crossings, lettin' the countryside know she was really on the move. Casey was chasing the clock that night, but too late he saw the strawberry patch. He hollered, 'Unload Sim'. He dynamited his engine, opened the sand lines and rode her in for Casey wouldn't leave her and that was his fatal end.
As we opened the big gate to turn me outside, we heard a foghorn. I looked and the gate was closed and I know the reason a silver streak went by no flashing rods, no monkey motion, not even smoke. Nono pistons or bell gong just a swish and the hi-iron was singin' a song! And you know I wish I had never awakened.