Tall Tale

| November/December 1975

400 N. Park Street, Bellefontaine, Ohio 43311

In 1914, I hired out as machinist apprentice and a year later they moved the shop from Bellefontaine to Indianapolis. I still have a steam engine I made in the tool room of the local shop.

In 1916, I hired out as a locomotive fireman and was promoted to engineer in 1923. I fired and ran steam locomotives for 35 years and 6 years the diesel engine; retired January 20, 1960 with the last 5 years as a passenger engineer.

In the course of 42 years, I heard several interesting stories - here is one about the big locomotive. I will picture myself as the engineer or conductor.

Back in 1905, I was an engineer on the Western Pacific R.R. at Cheyenne, Wyoming where they had an extra large locomotive to shove the long freight trains over the mountains. To get some idea of how large - the turntable at Bellefontaine is 110 feet long and turned any locomotive on N.Y.C. but this engine was 220 feet long, had 30 inch cylinders, 5 driving wheels on a side and carried 230 pounds of steam. The engine was so big and powerful and heavy that when we hit a wet rail and the driver spun trying to take hold, the rails curled up like bacon rind in a hot skillet.

The firebox was so large you could put a table in it and seat fifteen people around it. With a firebox that large it would be impossible to fire it by hand, so they, had a small steam shovel mounted on deck and fired it with that understand this was before the stocker was invented.