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Edition #174  May 15, 2012

Old Smokey

Photographer: Kevin N. Tomasic

                                                                      Photo by Kevin N. Tomasic

Old Smokey

The scrap yard lies hard alongside the Allegheny River. Years ago, it was infamous for being the final resting place of most of the last great Pennsy power—the duplexes. Nowadays, it’s mostly old barges and rusty freight cars slowly being made ready for the melt furnace. Over the years the scrap yard has used old rare locomotives to marshal cars around. For many years, a pair of ex-Army Whitcomb center cabs puttered about and when those were about worn out along you came. You were a Mon Valley veteran; having put in over 40 years moving pipe around for US Steel in McKeesport. Still strong and shiny, you sent the Whitcombs to scrap.

 It was easy to tell that you were working—even from up on Route 28 anyone could see your dull gray exhaust hanging above the trees. In your time at Sharpsburg, you earned both your nickname “Old Smokey” and your keep.

Now you just sit at the end of a yard lead, a blue tarp over your engine. No doubt one of the guys said, “Hey, we might get her running again, so let’s cover her up.” You were with them a long time and they just can’t give up on you. You know that the longer you sit and the more that those tracks under you sink into the mud, the less chance there is that you’ll be fixed. One day, the EMD switcher that took your place will drag you down the lead to the men with the torches.

Good bye, Old Smokey.

Kevin N. Tomasic

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