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August-September 1985 - Page 38


Mike Schafer

One c a n a lm ost e xperie n ce t he f ru stra ti o n o f t he c rew o f E9A No. 31A h eadi ng u p No. 56 impat iently a waiting late No. 57's d e p art ure so 56 c an take her tu rn a ccomplishing tasks-at-hand in Portage, Wis., in Ju ly 197 0. Note the hogger o f 57 inspecting hi s c harge, c omp rised of FP 7A 103C a nd a n u nide ntified FP45, f ollowed b y 57's t yp ical c o n sis t of b aggage a nd express cars of a ll shapes a nd sizes.

F ast M ail r emained i n t he OFFICI AL

u ntil A pril 1 971, l ong a fter o ther r ailroad m ail c ontracts h ad b een d iscontinued.
G UIDE

T here w as n othing g lamorous a bout t he F ast M ail's l ooks ; i t w as s trictly a w orkhorse . U nlike t he s weeping, s treamlined c onsists o f t he H i 's , N os. 5 6 a nd 5 7 c arried d ifferent t ypes o f h eavyweight a nd l ightweight R PO 's , b aggage , e xpress a nd s torage c ars , express b oxcars', c oaches , s leepers a nd p iggyback f lat c ars . T hroughout m uch o f i ts c areer, p assengers w ere c arried o nly o n e astbound t rain 5 6 , w hich h andled f rom o ne t o f our c oaches. H owever , t rain 5 7 w as a lso i ncluded i n p ublic t imetables , a s a " fast m ail a nd e xpress t rain " w hich c arried "no p assengers o r b aggage . ' I n 1 954 a nd 1 955 , S econd 5 7 u sually c arried f rom o ne t o f our c oaches f or p assengers b ound f or p Oints b etween C hicago a nd M ilwaukee a nd L a C rosse , W is . T rain 5 7 d eparted C hicago a t 9 p .m. a nd m ade s tops a t M ilwaukee , P ortage, N ew L isbon , C amp D ouglas , S parta a nd L a C rosse, W is ., W inona , R ed W ing a nd S t. P aul , M inn. , b efore a rri v ing i n M inneapolis a t 6 :15 a .m . E astbound , N o . 5 6 d eparted M inneapolis a t 8 :20 p .m . a nd, b ecause i t c ar ried p assengers , m ade a dditional s tops a t H astings , L ake C ity a nd Wa-

b asha , M inn. , C amp McCoy, T omah , W isconsin D ells, C olumbus a nd W atertown , W is ., D eerfield a nd W estern Avenue b efore a rriving i n d owntown C hicago a t 6 :20 a .m. D uring t he 1 950's w hen t he M ilwaukee h andled a c onsiderable a mount o f m ail a nd e xpress t raffic , 5 6 a nd 5 7 w ere o perated i n t wo s ections . C onsists a veraged b etween 1 5 a nd 2 4 c ars. T he w estbounds , d eSignated F irst a nd S econd 5 7 , c arried a g reat d eal o f t raffic r eceived f rom E astern c onnections. T hese c ars w ere p ut o n t he h ead e nd o f b oth s ections. N umber 5 6 's s econd s ection w as u sually r un a s S econd 4 , d ue t o t he f act t he e astbound P ioneer L imited d eparted M inneapolis a fter F irst 5 6 a nd b efore i ts s econd s ection . T rain 5 6 a nd S econd No. 4's c onsists l argely c onsisted o f c ars t hat h ad a rrived S t. P aul f rom t he W est C oast o n t rain 1 8 , t he C olumbian . T h e F ast M ail p icked u p a nd s et o ut c ars e n r oute a t M ilwaukee, P ortage, l a C ross a nd S t . P aul. A t t he o ther s cheduled s tops , m ail a nd e xpress w as l o aded f rom b aggage w agons s potted o n t he v arious p latforms. W ith t he e xception o f t he P ortage s top w here u nsort ed m ail w as l oad ed d irectl y i nto t h e R PO 's , a ll m ail p icked u p e n r oute w as p re-sorted i n b ags a nd l oaded i nto t he m ail s torage c ars. A dhering t o i ts s chedule w as a lways a c hallenge , s ince d elay s w hile h andling l arg e q uantities

o f m ail c ommonly o ccurred. U p t o 4 5 m inutes w ere s pent l oading a nd u nloading m ail a t N ew L isbon . D elays _ __ a lso o ccurred a t P ortage , L a C rosse ~ a nd M ilwaukee, w here h eavy a mounts o f m ail w ere h andled. M ilwaukee R oad h ad t he U .S . M ail c ontract b et ween C hicago a nd M ilwaukee, s o a ll m ail d estined f or p Oints i n n orthern Wisconsin o n t he C hicago & N orth Western h ad t o b e t r ans ferred t o t he C&NW a t C amp D ouglas b y N o. 5 7 , w here i t c ontinued o n t rain 5 15 , t he V ictory , to p Oints i n n orthern W isconsin. U pon 5 7's a rrival i n M ilwaukee , t he r egistered m ail w as u nloaded i nto p ostal t rucks t hat w ere b acked u p to t he t rain. P ouches o f m ail t hat h ad b een s orted e n r oute w ere u nloaded f rom t he R PO 's a nd s torage c ars o nto b aggage w agons a longside t he t rain. A s t he m ail w as t ransferred , t he l ocomo tives w ere c ut o ff a nd w atered w hile t he h ead e nd o f t he t rain w as s witched . S torage c ars f or M ilwaukee w ere s et o ut a nd l oaded c ars f or S t. P aul a nd b eyond w ere a dded. P rior t o 5 7 's a rrival , e xpress c ars d estined f or P ort age a nd L a C rosse w ere t aken b y a s w itcher p ast t he c urve a t t he e ast e nd o f t he d epot a nd a dded t o t he r ear o f t he t rain. T hese c ars h ad a rrived e arlier i n t he d ay o n t rain 9 , t he C opper C ountry L imited , w hose c ontents h ad b een s orted d uring i ts l ayove r i n M ilwaukee. A n e xpress c ar w ith c onductor 's r oom o r a b aggage-dorm s erved a s a r ider c ar f or t he f lagman w as a lso i ncluded o n t he r ear o f t he t rain . D eparting M ilwauke e l ate m eant t rying t o m ake u p t ime b efore a rriving i n P ortage. W henever t he o perator a t W atertown l earned o f 5 7 p assing D uplainville ( 17 m iles w est o f M ilwaukee) , h e w ould n ot d are a llow a nything e lse t o o ccupy t he p lant , f or 5 7 w as a llowed j ust 2 3 m inutes t o c over t he 2 9 m iles b etween D uplainville a nd W atertown ! U pon a rrival i n P ortage , t he e xpress c ars t o b e s et o ut w ere p ulled o ff t he r ear b y t he s witcher a nd s potted o n t he e xpress t rack j ust e ast o f t he d epot. M eanwhile , b aggage w agons f ull o f u nsort ed m ail w ere l oaded i nto t he R PO 's. S igns n ailed u p u nder t he t rain s helter l isting s mall t owns i n n orthern W isconsin d irected m ail h andl ers t o t he p roper c ars f or l oading. A s s oon a s t he t ransfer w as c ompleted , 5 7 w as g iven a h ighball a nd r oared o ut o f t own , d oing a g ood 4 0 m ph a s t he l ast c ar c leared t he p latform. D uring t he e arly 1 960 's , M ilw aukee p urchase d F lexi-vans f or h igh-speed m ail s ervice. T ypically , t hese c ars w ere a dded t o t he r ear o f 5 7 a t M ilwauk ee a nd s et o ut a t P ortage a n d La C ros se. A t L a C rosse t wo F lexi- vans w ere u sually s et o ut a nd s potted o n a s iding b y a n earb y c rOSSing. E ach F l exi -van c ar c arried t wo v ans, e ach l oaded w ith
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