The Cat That Held Up A Freight Train

| July/August 1989

35 Pueblitos Road, Belen, New Mexico 87002.

A true story by Everett L. Rohrer, retired Union Pacific engineer, 2898 S. Grant Street, Englewood, Colorado 80110. Submitted

The time, about 8 P.M., December 23rd, 1946.

The place: Union Station, Denver, Colorado. Weather was cold and snowing.

My fireman, Jim Brandt and I were on the station platform as train #37, 'The Pony Express', pulled in from Kansas City, Missouri. The engineer and fireman got off and as they left, stated that everything was O. K. Upon the signal from the switchman on my side, I eased the 820 back enough for him to 'pull the pin'. He had already uncoupled the train line steam and on his signal I pulled the engine ahead for at least 15 feet, the required safety distance, when an engine is uncoupled from its train, that is, a passenger train. Since the other crew had another 800 class 4-8-4 engine all ready to couple onto the train, we immediately pulled up out of the way and the dispatcher set us over on another track out of the way of everything. We then climbed down off the engine to inspect it or check it over before the 4 mile trip back to the roundhouse.

As we were looking the engine over, my fireman Jim said he thought he heard a faint sound underneath, like a kitten. Upon closer examination we saw what appeared to be a chunk of ice on a brake beam, between two sets of drivers. Sure enough, it was a small kitten, covered in ice. I had the brakes on, the engine in neutral, but I took two skates or chocks and placed them under one of the drivers. With a coal chisel we crawled under the engine to where this black chunk of ice was. Here was a kitten with its feet clamped over the brake beam, entirely covered with ice except its nose and mouth! By careful chiselling we finally got this little kitten and chunk of ice out from under the engine.