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Photo of the Month - December 2007
The T&OC's* West Columbus Yard
West Columbus yard was orientated east -west along the north side of McKinley Avenue between Glenwood and Grandview Avenues. The yard was built with a depression or bowl in the center. Switch crews would make up trains from both ends of the yard and as they kicked cars lose they would roll toward that center bowl. Very handy for the switch crew but not so good for the road crew trying to start a heavy freight out of the bowl. If they released their brakes and backed to bunch up the slack, the cars, instead of bunching up like they were suppose to do, would roll back down the bowl.
Railroads in Ohio were not allowed to use helper engines on the back of trains, but what the T&OC switcher would do is sit behind the train with its brakes on so the train couldn't roll back. That way the head end could bunch the slack than start the train by taking the slack out which made it easer to start a very heavy train. The technique has the effect of each car starting in its own individual instant of time rather than all the cars starting at once. If you were on the caboose and you heard the slack running out you knew you needed to brace yourself for a rough start. It was pretty easy to get battered in a caboose by the rough slack action especially during emergency stops.
The West Columbus yard is now gone replaced by the new C.O.T.A. bus garage. At least the locals traveling Grandview Avenue don't have to wait while those switch engines kicked cars toward the bowl.
Thanks to Bruce Warner, who worked BJ tower as an operator in days past, for help with December's Photo of the Month.
* While the Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad was taken over by the New York Central in 1938 to the employees (and fans) it was always the T&OC.