Clean out tracks

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Dec 4 13:25:05 EST 2018


Perhaps I should change this follow up to rats.

One weekend I was working at Shaffers hump and heard quite a number of 
gun shots.  I told one of the guys I was working with about this 
matter.  He said that it was nothing to worry about. Some of the guys 
that worked at the terminal liked to shoot rats with their 22 rifles at 
the clean out hole when no employees were working.

Also, I seem to remember a couple of tracks used exclusively to clean 
cover hopper cars. Now that has been over 50 years ago. There were many 
box cars at all times at the clean out.  When they left they were graded 
according to their quality for future shipments.  Seems like the grades 
were A1 the best followed by A, B, C with perhaps more sub grades like 
1, 2, 3. Guess the guys at the clean out were car dept. employees. Ed 
King would know for sure.


On 12/4/2018 11:47 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:
> Jim
> Just to add to Mr. Blackstock excellent write up. The are west of 
> Shaffers was referred to, at least by my father a Radford Division 
> conductor, as the “Clean-out hole”.
>  Now, my father was a child of the depression, and always wanted to 
> repair, fix or use something over rather than buy something new. Now, 
> I am not faulting him on that. So, with that in mind, at least once, 
>  I recall him taking me down there one time to pick up some good 
> plywood he had spotted them tossing out, so he asked, they said help 
> yourself, and we went back in the truck to load up. I honestly don’t 
> remember what we used the stuff for, but I remember walking around and 
> like Jim said there was trash and nails everywhere, did not remember 
> seeing any rats. But it was cardboard, paper, wood, scattered all 
> over, and maybe 3-5 tracks full of boxcars.
> I suspect there are not many if any photos of the area, not because it 
> was unappealing to rail fans, but it was deep on company property. The 
> area is now all filled in, nicely covered with grass, and fenced off, 
> hard to tell what might be buried under there.
> Ken Miller
>> On Dec 4, 2018, at 9:43 AM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at 
>> <mailto:nw-mailing-list at>> wrote:
>> Jim
>> The clean out tracks at Shaffers Crossing was just west of the engine 
>> terminal on the South side.  The old stock pen was in the same area.
>> Re excessive super elevation.  Not sure on this.  Could be that the 
>> area between the tracks were worn down by removal of some dirt every 
>> time they ran machines to clean up the debris.  On the other hand it 
>> could have been by design to keep those rats from jumping in the open 
>> box cars.
>> I was only at the clean out tracks three times.  One time to show me 
>> as a new employee where they were, one time to check on the location 
>> of a car and another to check out some interesting junk to see if it 
>> had potential use.  When you were at the location you had to watch 
>> every step.  There were plenty of nails and rats to avoid at all 
>> cost.  I never did see a rail fan with a camera taking any photos in 
>> this area.
>> As for me, I would rather walk through the stock pens than the clean 
>> out tracks.
>> Several years after my clean out experience when I was in the Traffic 
>> Dept. we put in charges for cleaning out cars.  This was a tariff 
>> charge that required all empty cars be cleaned by the customer before 
>> releasing the car to the carrier as an empty. The only exception was 
>> dunnage used to block and brace the load being returned to the 
>> original shipping origin.  This eliminated the need to operate the 
>> massive clean out tracks.
>> Jim Blackstock
>> On 11/28/2018 12:57 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>>> On another list there has been a discussion about clean out tracks 
>>> and the cleaning of cars; some photos show the clean out tracks to 
>>> have excessive super elevation that assisted in the removing of 
>>> dunnage and the cleaning of the car, i.e. steam cleaning.
>>> Does anyone have insight in how N&W handled cleaning of box cars, 
>>> etc? Were the clean out tracks super elevated?  Any photos?
>>> Thanks.
>>> Jim Brewer
>>> Glenwood, MD
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