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Tuch Santucci's Chicago Sub of the MoPac - SCREAMING EAGLES
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"Tuch" Santucci's
Chicago Sub of the Missouri Pacific

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A Chicago Subdivision Photo Album (Part 3 of 4)
Written and Photographed by JD "Tuch" Santucci, MPRR Engineer '78-'85

This section wouldn't be complete without at least a few excerpts from Tuch's online publication, "Hot Times on the High Iron."   The flollowing column is from the 27 February, 2002 edition.
You may start your own free subscription by contacting Tuch.


Today we look at a few more characters of the game.

After a few serious columns lately, it is time for some humor. As I have mentioned in previous columns, the rail industry employs a diverse group of people from all sorts of backgrounds. As a result, we have quite the colorful bunch of players here who can really make the job interesting and fun. Today we study a few more of these folks.

Back in my days at the MoPac, I fired on occasion for a fellow named Porky. His real name was Jim, but virtually nobody called him that. Porky was short and well, rather heavy. He could eat like there was no tomorrow. I watched him gnaw down some thirty pieces of chicken in a twelve-hour stint one evening. Porky had false teeth and never became accustomed to eating with them. He would take them out, drop them into his pocket and gum his food. It was quite the sight.

We actually got along very well and I fired for him quite often. We would joke and laugh most of the night or day as the case might be. He was good with silly names and had one for almost everybody.

I was working with him on the night transfer between Yard Center and the Belt Railway of Chicago's Clearing Yard. We had completed yarding our train upon our return to Yard Center and were now engine lite waiting at the signal at 162nd Street. This interlocking was located at the very south end of Yard Center. When we got this signal, we would be lined from the inbound runner to one of the main tracks and head up to the roundhouse to tie up the power. Our power this trip was pair of L&N GP9's. We were sitting on the south unit and the head man was on the north one. I could not see the signal from my vantage point as it was on the opposite side of the tracks and I had two units in the way preventing me from seeing it.

We're sitting and patiently waiting for the signal when Porky calls out "Red." I started to release the brakes but then caught myself.

"Red?" I said.

"Ya, red. You shouldn't move."

Ya, I guess I shouldn't. They don't call that signal "fire your ass red" for nothing.

I made mention that it probably wasn't a real good idea to call out a signal like that while we are stopped at it. Being that we had put in a long night, somebody could easily go ahead and take off right by it. I managed to catch myself but under different circumstancesâ..

So Porky goes on to recount a story about just that. He told of sitting at a stop signal like this and calling out "Red" to his Fireman like he did with me. This Fireman immediately released the brakes, yanks back the throttle and quickly shoots right past the stop signal, only without permission to do so. Porky told of getting some discipline over this episode. Kinda makes me wonder why he pulled it with me.

We had a Trainman there whom Porky dubbed "Dilmer." This guy at one point in his life was a bit overly fond of the drink. As a result, he contributed to the death of far too many brain cells. He wasn’t quite the same in his later years. He was a character in his own right though.

One day while working on the Chicago Heights Terminal Transfer in Chicago Heights (also known as the Hack Line), Dilmer decides to climb on top of a boxcar. This was a huge rule violation as by this point in time, we not allowed to be up on top of any car for any reason. Nonetheless, Dilmer gets on top. It had snowed quite a bit in recent days and there was a large pile of snow that had been plowed off the lead. This pile was at the very end of the lead and was right alongside the very boxcar on top of which Dilmer was standing.

He looks down at the other guys on his crew and says "Shoot me"


"Shoot me! You know, like in the movies. Pretend you have a gun and shoot me."

So the Duke of Earl who was working with him makes the always popular thumb and index finger gun we all made as kids, points it at Dilmer and goes "BANG!"

Dilmer yells out "Oh they got me" grabbing his chest and proceeding to fall off the car and into the pile of snow, just like in the movies. However in the movies it is normally a professional stuntman performing this feat of acrobatics. Needless to say, nobody believed what Dilmer just did and went running up to see if he was alright. He was and was laughing about this whole episode. When it was mentioned to him that this pile of snow might have been frozen solid or perhaps maybe just a little bit of snow pushed up on top of a pile of ballast and he could have been seriously injured, Dilmer just shrugged and said "Oh, I guess I never thought of that."


And yet another character on the MoPac was a Trainman named Marshall. He was right ahead of me in seniority on the Trainman's list. Being that our Trainman's extra board was a seniority board, this was actually to my advantage. He was notorious for taking calls, then either marking off at the last minute or not showing up and then calling in saying he couldn't make it. This would give me a late call to work his assignment. It also meant I got paid from when the job went on duty, no matter what time I arrived. On one occasion he even called in late and told the Caller he was in jail. They checked it out and found out he really was too. It was unfortunate that he wasn't kept there.

This guy had a girlfriend who was on vacation in Hawaii. While she was gone, he had landed the afternoon switcher at 26th Street Yard in Chicago Heights. Every afternoon he would arrive a few minutes early and call her in Hawaii from a company phone at the 26th Street Yard office. When the job went to coffee, again he would call her in Hawaii. This was also the case for lunch break and then when the job tied up. He did this for a good week.

Sometime later when the phone bill arrived, those in charge about had a stroke. Here were dozens of calls to Hawaii. It is highly unlikely the MoPac would have any reason to transact business between their 26th Street Yard and the 50th state. It was a good bet the powers that be would begin to investigate this bill rather thoroughly. And they did.

It took them a few weeks, but they were able to use the process of elimination to nail Marshall as the culprit of these phone calls. He was made to reimburse the company for all the calls, over $300 worth.

Hot Times on the High Iron, - ©2002 by JD Santucci. Used with permission.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image

40) SD40-2C 6060 at Yard Center Diesel 1983. - All photos © JD Santucci
41) GP38-2 2106 at Villa Grove April 1985.
42) B30-7A 4821 at Yard Center Diesel 1983.
43) Yours truly in October 1981 at Yard Center.
44) SD40-2 3217 on a very dark, dreary day in February 1985.
45) Pence Tower in Momence, IL on 29 April 90. This was the Conrail (PCINYC Kankakee Belt Line) crossing. The Operator was a Conrail employee. The tracks in the foreground are the Chicago Sub northbound (closest to the tower) and southbound (closest to bottom edge of the photo). The Conrail Kankakee Secondary is behind the tower where the train order stand is located. The wye connecting the MoPac and Conrail is to the right and behind the tower out of view.

The wooden tower that was here was destroyed in a wreck many years previous, when a southbound C&EI train derailed wiping it out. The NYC replaced it with this structure which was demolished in the mid 90's when it was closed. On Conrail this tower was called MG.

The Milwaukee Road also used to come through here on the Conrail trackage. Their Delmar (a couple of miles east of here) to Joliet Branch connected with the NYC and later Penn Central and Conrail just east of the tower. The lines split again just west of the crossing. This saved the costs involved in maintaining yet another set of diamonds at the crossing. The Milwaukee ceased operations through here in 1980 with MoPac and Conrail taking over the industry work they had in Momence.

46) Still another view of Jay Tower in Chicago Heights, this time looking south. The EJ&E westbound and eastbound mains (near to far) are in front of the tower with the MoPac to the left. On the Jay this was called Chicago Heights Tower and the Operator was an EJ&E employee. 29 April 90
47) View looking east towards Yard Center Diesel fuel tracks. GP38-2 2234 is on the west fuel track and former C&EI double-eagle SD40-2 3151 is on the east fuel track. Normally, outbound power was set onto the west fuel track when it was ready to be set out for an outbound crew. The power would be pulled south of the facility onto track 10 or 11.
Nos. 48 and 49 are special. These two locomotives were coupled together when I caught them having come in on a northbound like this. What do you suppose the odds are of this happening? It certainly isn't too likely to happen again, although with UP's latest renumbering scheme nowhere near complete, I suppose there is that possibility.

48) The 3123 is a member of the second order of SD40-2's ordered by Mopac. This unit began life as the T&P 824, was renumbered in the general Renumbering which took place in 1974. It was coupled this late February 1989 day to the UP 3123 at Yard Center. These units came in off the road together.

49) UP 3123 which was mated to the MP 3123 above at Yard Center, February 1989.

50) SD40-2 3192 spring 1989 at Yard Center Diesel. Notice the decal with the Screaming Eagle has faded badly.

51) SD40-2 3268 spring 1989 at Yard Center Diesel also with a badly faded Screaming Eagle decal and this unit is four years newer than the 3192.
52) SD40-2C 6056 basking in the sun at Yard Center Diesel February 1989. This unit is only eleven months newer than the 3268, yet the Screaming Eagle decal has fared much better against the elements and sun over the past nine years. This unit would become UP 3956 when it received a new paint job in a couple of years.
The SD40-2C's were ballasted with more weight and essentially built to Burlington Northern standards for use on coal trains hence the C in the model designation. If you look at the fuel tank closely, you'll notice three different fuel fillers. These are all different sizes. BN and Rio Grande each used non standard sized fuel fillers. The dynamic brakes were also part of the BN specs as were the and yellow "bubble gum" style beacons mounted on the cab roof. Subsequent orders did not have these features. The Pyle Gyralights mounted in the nose were a common trait on Rio Grande power.

The first two orders of these units came equipped with 12 channel radios when all other MoPac units at that time were being delivered with four channel radios. The additional channels included BN, CNW and Rio Grande frequencies.

The first two orders were also assigned numbers in the 3216-3235 series but were renumbered in 1978 to the 6000 series to differentiate them from the rest of the fleet. And again, all subsequent orders were delivered in the 6000 series beginning with the 6020.

53) The South Tower at Yard Center in June 1986. This was during the period Yard Center was closed as a major classification yard. The side in the shade faces the yard which sits to the north. If you look close on the shady side and the sunny side, you see the location of where the Mopac buzzsaw and the L&N rectangles were mounted. Several photographs in Patrick C. Dorm's "Missouri Pacific Freight Train Services and Equipment" were taken from the top level.

54) The same tower in 1990 after Yard Center was reopened as a major classification facility. A fresh coat of paint and UP shields have been applied.

55) Looking south on the Harbor Lead from 142nd Street in Riverdale, IL, just north of Yard Center in 1986. This lead connected to the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad passing on the west side of the Tower at Dolton Jct and which is less than a quarter of a mile north of here. The track immediately to the left is the B&O Lead, which connected to the Chessie System's Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad. To the far left are the two main tracks.

At 142nd Street is milepost 17 where ownership of the main track changed from MoPac/L&N to Chicago & Western Indiana. MoPac had one fifth ownership in C&WI along with L&N, Conrail, Grand Trunk Western and Norfolk & Western.

56) SBW Caboose 13807 on the caboose track at Yard Center in 1986.

57) SBW Caboose 13793 at the north end of Nine Yard at Yard Center in 1984.

58) What happens to MoPac engines when they go bad. This locomotive began life as T&P 646, a GP 35. In the 1974 general renumbering, it became the T&P 2543, then MP 2543 in 1976. It was rebuilt by MoPac having the turbocharger removed in favor of a Roots Blower and 645 power packs installed in its 567 prime mover. It was de-rated to 2000 HP, renumbered to MP 2614 and dubbed a GP3Sm. This unit worked about six years before being retired in mid 1986. It was shipped to locomotive dealer Wilson and sold to Wisconsin Central in September 1987 becoming their 4010.

While at Wilson, this and the other eleven GP35m's obtained all received quickie paint jobs that used a water-based paint. As these units tended to soup up with lube oil when idling for prolonged periods, they needed to be washed frequently. As they were washed, the new paint began to wash off. By the summer of 1988, many of these units were beginning to show signs of their MoPac heritage as Jenks Blue began to bleed through.

One of two things happened at the end of their MoPac lives, either MoPac simply ran them into the ground and disposed of them, or they were trashed at Wilson. Unverified word claims several of these units worked on Farmrail in Oklahoma for a few months before heading north to Wisconsin. When the twelve of these units the WC purchased hit their property after allegedly being "shopped", they were a sorry bunch. Cab forced air heaters did not work, some had their electric sidewall heaters missing and all of them were a mechanical wreck. There were all kinds of problems with them and they were prone to failure. And this after WC had paid premium prices for these units too.

The former MoPac units poses on a cold winter's day at Shops Yard in North Fond du Lac, WI, January 1988.

59) WC 4005 began life as MP 621 in 1964. Like its sister the 646. It was renumbered in the 1974 general renumbering becoming the 2519. After Rebuilding it became the 2609 and was later retired and wound up at Wisconsin Central via Wilson Locomotive. Here it is at Shawano, WI in February 1988.

Tuch Santucci's Chicago Subdivision of the Missouri Pacific
Background: Chicago Sub
Photo Pages:
Part 1 l 2 l 3 (this page) l 4

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 l Last Update to this page: 18 April, 2008
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