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Edition #101, May 1, 2009

Who’s That Lady?

Photographer: Bob Ciminel

                                                                                 Photo by Bob Ciminel 

Who’s That Lady?

In 2006, as we were winding down a 10-day rail tour through Colorado, our last stop was the Georgetown Loop Railroad in Silver Plume, a tiny former mining town wedged between Clear Creek and Interstate 70 about 55 miles west of Denver.  Silver Plume made history as the terminus of Colorado Southern’s famous Georgetown Loop route and the starting point for the not so famous Argentine Southern that wound its way in the mountains south of Silver Plume.

Other than car hosts, the crews on all the trains we rode in Colorado were men, unlike the Cass Scenic Railroad, which boasts at least one fireman of the feminine persuasion.  Ms. Aimee of the Cass had the pleasure of battling a foaming boiler in Shay No. 5 this year during the pre-Photographer’s Special.  A trooper to the end, Aimee kept a smile on her face despite the coal dust, oil, and sweat from shoveling coal for the better part of an hour.  For all we know, she could have cursed No. 5 all the way up the mountain, but the sewing machine rhythm of the Shay’s triple cylinders drowned out any invectives she spewed at the locomotive – or the engineer.

In 2006, the Georgetown Loop Railroad could lay claim to a pretty brakeman named Kelli, shown here on the platform at Silver Plume.  Kelli’s limited amount of makeup, nicely manicured hands, and crisp white shirt behooved the fact that a brakeman on a steam-powered train can often find herself in grimy situations.  And we were suitable impressed to find Kelli looking pretty much in her original condition at the end of the trip.

Our conversation with Kelli was brief and business-like as we exchanged pleasantries about our respective work (The writer is a brakeman on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Georgia).  And in keeping with railroad tradition going back to the 19th Century, Kelli received little assistance from her crewmates as she struggled to couple-up the engine after a runaround move at the end-of-track.  As passengers leaned over the edge of the open-air car to watch her shove the couplers into alignment and struggle with the glad hands, someone asked, “Who’s that lady?”  To which I responded, “That’s no lady; that’s a brakeman.”

Bob Ciminel 

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