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CR 21270...

Having finally gotten tired of not having a camera with me when I see something interesting, I bought one of the 'Throw Away' cameras to carry in the glove compartment of my car. I figure that a 'point and shoot' picture beats no picture at all.

The other day (Sunday, December 3rd), I got a chance to use it. As I was driving by South Anderson Yards in Anderson on my way to take the Rusty Spike to be printed, I noticed a Conrail Bay Window caboose, #21270, sitting by itself next to a row of Grain Hoppers on the East end of the yards. This wasn't a 'Transfer' type caboose like the yard and local crews use. That's why it caught my eye and stood out to me.

Coming back around, I pulled into the access road. As I turned in, the van of another railfan/modeler that I know pulled in right behind me and continued on down the road paralleling the tracks as I parked near a rather steep gravel and cinder access ramp.

After scrambling up the ramp to track level, I began to crossing over the several tracks that lay between me and my quarry. Glancing westward, I spotted my friend working his way over the tracks and coming toward me. I was waiting for him near the caboose at a good spot to get a clean shot and as he raised his camera he said, "What's this little guy doin' out here all alone?" The way he said it sounded an awful lot like, "What's a nice girl like you doin' in a place like this?" As neither of us had the answer to that, we simply took our shots.

She was a little worse for wear with her faded paint and bent handrails, but she was intact and with her doors closed she waited patiently for the pick up that would take her on to her destination, whatever that was to be. How many crews have called her home, glad for the shelter that she provided from the wind and rain? How many have cursed her for being too hot in summer and too cold in winter but accepted her presence without question, took her for granted? How many have stood on her back platform and watched the track go by even as others sat in her bay windows and watched over their train? How many of her crew members waved a greeting to kids on bikes or standing by the track or the grade crossings as she followed her train faithfully?

And now she sits, waiting, empty and crewless on a siding in Anderson Indiana, waiting. Waiting for new work or for a new home? Or was she waiting for journey's end and the wrecker? The only thing that I could do was to take my pictures and quietly wish her good luck and God Speed...

21270 was gone the next morning.

Roger Hensley
(Originally Published in the CID Rusty Spike Vol 26 #1, Jan-Feb 1996)


Several weeks later (March 1996) while listening to my scanner, I heard the crew of a train working south to Anderson from Elkhart. They reported being 'stoned' by school kids as they passed a playground in a town just north of Anderson. They reported no injuries but that there were some broken windows. As the train approached my location I prepared to look over the train for any obvious damage to the equipment. The locomotive seemed to be in good condition. So where was the damage?

There were only a few cars and then came a caboose. It was 21270! And it looked much the same except that it was now sporting broken windows. Shattered and starred but not broken out. Once again, this 'crummy' had protected its crew.

- r -

Created August 1, 1996.
This page is written by: Roger P. Hensley
Copyright 1996 by Roger P. Hensley

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