PARKING IN BLOOMINGTON
Northbound leaving Bloomington, the track is straight until it crosses 6 th St (north end of the old depot), then it curves to the left. From 6 th Street there also is a road that runs north, beginning next to the track. But as the track curves away, this street widens and about halfway to 7 th St, it is wide enough to permit right-angle parking with the front of the automobiles against concrete curbs to keep them off the tracks. At the southern most end of these parking spaces, next to the tracks, was a telephone pole and there was not room to park south of this pole. Directly across the street from the parking spaces was a roadhouse called the Royal Oaks, and on the weekends it was always full.
One Saturday night, about mid-night, I left McDoel on #70, with three C628's, all running short end north and a full train with pusher tonnage. As we passed the passenger station, running about 17 or 18 mph, I noticed that someone had parked a green 1955 Pontiac station wagon just sough of the poll and had pulled the front wheels right up to the rail. I put the train in emergency, but of course before we stopped we had hit the Pontiac, rolled it around the pole and wiped out six cars that were legally parked.
Hell of a mess!!!
You talk about emptying a tavern. All the car owners, plus about 200 other assorted patrons, were immediately on the scene. Before long, the police tow trucks arrived and started sorting out the mess. Then, to make matters worse, in addition to tearing up the cars, the Pontiac had scraped the side of all three locomotives and tore all the wiring off the axle alternators. The mechanical department had to rewire all nine of them before we could move the train. We talked to some of the car owners while we were waiting for the police. One car belonging to a young fellow who had just bought it that afternoon – a brand new Volkswagen Beetle. Our head brakeman said "The beetle was squashed like a bug." Not a bad description.
End of story............not quite.
Two hours later when the mess was cleared up and we again started to move, we went about two city blocks, were running all of 6 or 7 mph, when we found a drunk passed out on the tracks ahead of us. We big-holed the train again and, thankfully, stopped before running over him. Must have been a full moon that night or something. I've often wondered if the drunk was on the tracks before we hit the cars. If he was, then the mis-parked Pontiac actually saved his life.
Ron (Nine-Joints) Marquardt
Retired Monon Engineer
Originally Appeared in May 2006 issue of The Hoosier Line
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