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Edition #108, August 15, 2009

A Labor Of Love

Photographer: Dave Hyman

                                                                                                                Photo by Dave Hyman

A Labor Of Love

Being a locomotive engineer means different things to different people. For some itís boarding a train and taking it across the country to a destination, following a defined route and adhering to a schedule set by the railroad, maybe a few hours, sometimes a few days. The route can be fraught with danger in congested cities, or free as a bird in the wide-open spaces of America, running day and night in all weathers. Such is the life of mainline engineering.

There is another kind of engineer, one who loves his job just as much as any mainline engineer, but who runs his train on a more leisurely pace. His timetable is less congested and he works far from the madding crowds. Such is the life of a tourist line engineer. The need for a dedicated and observant man is the same as any mainline engineer, after all, running any locomotive is a serious affair.

Today the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad operates its tourist trains out of Canton, Ohio. On a bright summer July 4th in 2009 the sound of two vintage Alco FPA-4ís once again fill the quiet still of the morning at the Canton Lincoln Highway Station, as they are brought back to life after a nightís sleep. Belching the unmistakable ďblack Alco smokeĒ so familiar to rail enthusiasts,  itís time to make the necessary safety checks while they idle and warm up for the days work ahead.

After all safety checks are completed and the train is cleared for running, the passengers are allowed to board. Todayís manifest is brisk and above expectations for a public holiday such as today. ďAll Aboard!Ē is called for the 9:00 a.m. departure. The Conductors and Trainmen ensure the passengers safety and help them board the train and find their seats, while the engineer takes one last look around his locomotive and checks the line ahead for obstructions. With constant radio contact between Conductor and Engineer all is cleared for departure.

A couple toots on the horn and we begin to move out, slowly at first, making our way out of the siding and on to the mainline. Our journey starts in the Canton City Park system and speed is kept low with many road crossings, pedestrians and wildlife to contend with. As soon as we clear the Fulton Rd crossing we are able to open her up and head on towards North Canton. Throttle and horns all through Canton, the engineer now concentrates on the road ahead. Our destination is Akron Ohio, 20 miles to the north, but before we get there we have to make many road crossings, watch out for deer and trees on the tracks every foot of the way.

Itís a Labor Of Love and is why we will do it all over again this afternoon and the rest of the week.

Dave Hyman

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