I soon climb down off our power to throw the facing point switch that will lead us onto the Hitop branch proper. Climbing back aboard, we’ll pull just clear of the switch so Butch can realign the switch for the main. After the switch is lined once again, we head off for the end of the branch at Morris Fork.
Blowing for the crossing into the Armitage Furniture Company, we get a wave from Sam, one of the owners of Sam and Mickey’s, who is out back track side, taking a break from the heat of his kitchen. Starting upgrade, we round the curve into our first tunnel, slowing as best we can for the dirt road crossing into Hitop just the other side of the east portal. By timetable we’re headed east, but we’re actually headed more in a northeasterly direction at the moment.
Rounding the big curve past the crossing, the grade really begins in earnest. Bill notches out the old girl for all she’s worth, climbing out of the S curve and starting into another curve as we climb around behind the Hitop mine below. The branch is known for its many curves (and sharp ones at that), that put a strain not only on our train crews, but also on our MOW crews.
Leveling off a bit after rounding the mountain, we pull down the main alongside the long siding, at the end of which sits the Morris Fork Hardware and Farm Supply. Butch drops off the cabin to line the west switch for our run-around move, as I climb down to cut our power off and to line the east switch. We’ll run our power around our train and shove the two forty foot boxcars down the passing track into the siding.
With the power coupled up to our cabin, we start the shove down the track, spotting our two loads by the dock of the farm supply. Pulling back down to the west switch and clearing, Butch realigns this switch for the main, climbs back aboard the cabin, while I take my place back on the locomotive, as we whistle off back downgrade.
Our job almost complete, we’ll pull through the scale track once again in Dickinson yard to weigh the tanks we pulled out of Allied Chemical, before spotting these over on track three. Finally spotting these in the yard, we pull our cabin and shove it down by our yard office, cut our power off and spot it by the service area, then sign off for another day on the Hitop…..