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No Agua

April 14, 2019 10:25PM
I'm wondering if the incident of SP 18 taking water from Hermosa Creek last week harkened Bill Colley, engineer on SP 18, back to a fine June morning in 1981, nearly 38 years ago. I was running the helper engine of a double-header on one of my very earliest solo trips as engineer, having replaced the departing Paul Connor who had to return to Pueblo to hold his job with the D&RGW there. My fireman was Richard Connor, brother of Paul, and he had hired on just a few days before I did, so he had had only a few student trips under his belt. On the road engine behind us was engineer Steve Limata, and a fireman whose name I don't remember.

On that morning, I had instructed Richard that the first thing I wanted him to do on reporting to work as fireman was to climb up on the tender and look in the tank to be sure it was full, just in case there was some kind of mix up the night before in preparing the locomotive for its morning assignment. He checked it and it was full so we continued getting the locomotive ready.

The train departed on time, and by time we were cruising up the valley at a steady 18 mph, everything was pretty well shaken down, and all was right with the world, when somewhere a little east of Trimble lane, the road engine blew three short blasts on the whistle. I looked back to see Steve signaling me to stop. The road engine tender was out of water--MT.

After a brief conference, the Animas Fire Department was alerted, and they sent out a pumper unit, threw a hose in the adjacent irrigation ditch and pumped at least enough water into the tender to get us to Tank Creek, (the Hermosa tank was not in service at that time), and we were on our way again.

This being the early weeks of operation under the new ownership of the railroad, there was still quite a bit of attention focused on operations, and the incident was not overlooked by the media. I may be wrong, but I think a photo of the stalled train being serviced by the fire department pumper truck made the Durango Herald. Some faces were left with egg on them.

At that time, locomotive tenders were filled during the night by the engine watchman using a hose connected to city water. The watchman had duly placed the hose in the tender under the lid and turned on the water. Evidently, either the hose nozzle was shooting straight across the tank opening (and thus not much going into the tank), or some time later, the hose worked its way out from under the lid, probably due to reaction to the water pressure. Water from the hose began to flow over the top of the tank and down the drain ports. The watchman, seeing this, apparently and logically assumed the tank was full and shut off hose and pulled it down off the tank. Yes, he probably should have climbed up to check the tank level, but when you see water running down off the top of the tank, you kind of assume the tank is full to overflowing. Unfortunately, the tank was not full, but had just enough water to get through the night and up the line in the morning to Trimble Lane.
Subject Author Posted

No Agua

Mark Yeamans April 14, 2019 10:25PM

Re: No Agua Attachments

gato April 15, 2019 11:24AM

Re: No Agua

MD Ramsey April 15, 2019 01:03PM

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