The Cat That Held Up A Freight Train
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.
The time, about 8 P.M., December 23rd, 1946.
The place: Union Station, Denver, Colorado. Weather was cold and
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.
After we got through the interchange, I proceeded to bring the
engine back up toward the roundhouse while Jim tried to thaw out
this kitten and get the ice off it. He rubbed it, worked with it,
next to the boiler head of the engine, and by the time we reached
the roundhouse he had its four feet free of ice. We immediately
took it into the warm locker room inside the roundhouse, next to
the engine dispatcher's office. Jim continued to work on the
ice and kept brushing the water off its back with a warm towel.
That poor little kitten's body was actually cold all over. It
appeared lifeless but Jim continued to rub and massage it and, with
the heat of the radiator and warm towel, the little rascal began to
move. Believe it or not, it started to get some warmth in its body.
Jim placed it in a warm ball of waste where he made a nest and left
it next to a radiator while we carried on our job of moving and
servicing the steam engines that we were getting ready to go out on
Page: 1 | 2
| Next >>