In this short story, we will ride aboard a freight train as it traverses the HO scale Drayton Harbour Railway, come aboard with us and enjoy a tour over this scenic Railway.Read More

 

Let’s take a ride on a regular scheduled train on the Drayton Harbour Railway Easton/Weston Division.

Santa Fe U36c #8706The Drayton Harbour is the permanent HO layout well under construction in the DDMRC’s clubrooms. The layout occupies an area of some 10mtrs x 12mtrs and represents a generic single track mainline based mainly on American practices. We will use a great deal of “Imagineering” on this journey, as the scenery, although well along, is still devoid of finishing details.
           
We will take charge of our steeds on the ready track at Weston loco depot. We have been allocated three big six axle GE’s for this run. In the lead, Drayton Harbour U36c #3612 (ex Santa Fe 8744), purchased by the DH and repainted in the roads distinctive red/white/black scheme after suffering a severe accident (dive to the floor). Second in the consist, Santa Fe U36c 8706, the trailing unit, Burlington Northern 5112 is a C30-7. With more than 9,000hp at our disposal, we are expecting to be hauling a heavy train.
           
Climbing aboard, the throttle is eased out and the trio of GE’s steadily make there way out of the loco depot and into Weston yard where we are signalled into track 3 to pick up our train. The conductor advises us that we have 18 quad hoppers of grain and a crummy (caboose) and if we think we are overpowered, think again, as we have a couple of pick-ups to do en route.
           
Two SD-40's thundering past.After the mandatory brake test, we are given the OK to leave Weston yard by the dispatcher. In normal fashion, our train is designated by the lead unit as extra 3612 East, with the throttle easing out, the combined 48 cylinders lift the short train away from the yard, holding back on power is called for to ensure that the yard speed of 25mph is not exceeded.
           
Once clear of the yard limit, the big GE’s are opened up and their reverberating exhaust echoes’ off the canyon walls as we start into the mountains and begin the steady climb to Summit View where we take the right hand leg of the passing loop. Waiting anxiously for us to get in the clear is Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, headed by a big EMD FP45 with Super liners, Heritage cars and a Material handling Car on the tail end. We maintain our steady pace as we exit the loop and pass under ‘Aaron's Knob’ (use your imagination!).

Olsen's Quarry loading hoppers.As the terrain levels out, we can look back over our train as it wends its way through deep cuttings. Our engines are now under dynamic braking as we tread gingerly across a tall curved timber trestle and ease into Henderson Heights on track 4.

The Olsen’s Quarry switch engine (GE 70 tonner #70) is waiting on adjacent track 3 ready to tack on 6 hoppers loaded to the hilt with aggregate. After placing the caboose back on our train, brakes tested we are ready to depart, but first we have to wait for a hot intermodal train to make its way past us. Within minutes, two Drayton Harbour SD40-2’s (Austral Sponsor Specials 4021 & 4022) thunder past with dust swirling around there trucks as their string of hot merchandise rocks and sways by. As quick as it arrived, the hot-shot is gone and we are given the right ‘O’ way once the turnout is aligned for us to exit the loop.

Almost as soon as momentum is gained, we select dynamic braking as we curve into the steeply descending Border Loop, this railroading engineering marvel sees the track spiral around in two complete loops, with our train appearing in daylight spasmodically until we reach the bottom of the grade with dynamics screaming, the full tonnage pushing against the last unit’s coupler.

Township of Thorley.Levelling out, the dynamics are eased back and the train is taken under brake control as we enter “Thorley”, (this unique little village is English in style and is a bright relief to all the mountain running we have just encountered). At Thorley, CSX SW1200 5091 greets us with a string of cars loaded with lumber from the Diamond Flats branch. Once stopped, 5091 detaches our caboose and places the loads on the rear of our train, tacks the ‘boose back on, and we once again run a brake test.

Before we leave Thorley a short local freight arrives off the Fender Sub, headed by Drayton Harbour Anniversary unit GP9 1987, this train will exchange cars with the Diamond Flats switcher before heading back to Freewater.

With the local in the clear, we once again set off, our 9,000 plus horsepower is still quite adequate for our load as we sweep around and skirt the picturesque banks of the Fender River, entering a long tunnel, we plunge into darkness, at the end of the bore, we are on the outskirts of Freewater, a major yard on the system, we will skirt the yard, as we have not got any work here. We can see several locos and trains ready to go.

Shunting operations at the sawmill.Drayton Harbour GP18’s 800 & 808 are about to depart with empty lumber flatcars destined for the mill at Diamond Flats. EMD 1, EMD’s SD60 demonstrator is about to couple up to its train for a test run over the mountains while leased Boston & Maine Alco S1 switcher 1168 is shuffling cars around and making/breaking trains.

Our eastward journey takes us through the flatlands of West Plains and we then enter a sweeping curve as we arrive at through platform 2 at South Loop. Commuters are waiting for the arrival of the afternoon shuttle as we ease to a stop just short of the platform. Suddenly, horn blasting, ancient Drayton Harbour F7 701, rattles over the turnout and squeals to a stop on track 1. While the local is loading, we receive the all clear and head back onto the mainline to tackle the last leg of our journey. Once we are in the clear and 701 have everyone on board, it will head off on its short run.

A long sweeping right hand curve finds us entering the arrival track at Easton; we crawl through the yard ladder and grind to a gentle stop. It’s been a long day, and we are relieved by a hostler crew who will take the units to loco for a well earned rest and preparation for their return journey.

I would like to thank Barry Freeman and Aaron Webster for their cooperative input into the successful compilation of this fictional journey over the Drayton Harbour Railway.