The Missing FRED

by James Sava


James SavaIt was a real cold winter, the fall of 1990. I was on a pipe train that was ten cars long. We came hauling through Healy and then the bridge at Ferry and that little curve at milepost 383. I was watching the FRED and when the back end came and I just touched the throttle and the air went. I stopped the train and the conductor walked to the back. Pretty soon he called me up and said, "There is no FRED back here." He then asked me to look at the train list and tell him what the last number of the last car is. So I told him. He then asked if it was loaded or empty. I told him it showed 65 tons of pipe. He said it doesn't have any pipe on it.

The dispatcher was keyed in and he was listening. He said, "What the hell's going on here?" The conductor replied, "Somewhere between here and Healy we lost 65 tons of pipe." The dispatcher then keys into everybody and tells all the trains to stop. Next he calls each section and tells them to get on their horse and find out where that pipe is.

What happened was it just slid off that flat. It turned out we had spilled it all at milepost 382. They found every piece of it buried in the snow. It beat the daylights out of it. They brought the tractors in and got it all cleared up.



© 2004 James Sava