Wichita Yard Wichita Yard The above train is traveling westbound entering the yard from the East, the yard being located on the North Side of Wichita. I am setting in the brakeman's seat of a GP-7 taking this picture. The date is summer 1966 and shortly thereafter I will be employed by Uncle Sam. The yard is on the right; it only had 8 or 9 tracks. The big building on the right was the diesel shop (it had one track inside which could hold a couple of engines). Between it and the main line was the yard office/bunk house/boiler room. You cannot see the yard office in the picture, but if you blow the picture up you will see a caboose to the right of the main line and that is where the yard office was/is. Both the yard office and engine house was of brick construction and of the 50ish design (I believe the yard was built in the early 50's. The old yard was downtown). The yard ladder started off the main and facing the picture went right. Again if you blow the picture up you will see a yard engine pulling a cut of cars out of the yard. To the extreme left were the interchange tracks to the ATSF and beyond that is an elevator. The ATSF interchange had two tracks, one for receiving and one for delivering. In the middle of the interchange was a track that ran perpendicular to the connection (in other words there was a diamond in the middle of the interchange tracks) that served some industries in the industrial park I will talk about later. The 5 or 6 months I worked in Wichita I never saw any cars spotted at the elevator. (BTW, one night I climbed to the top of that elevator-it was a very good view) The metal building on the left was the motor car shed and on the right before you get to the yard office was the icehouse. Past the diesel shop was the freight house/rip track. On the other end of the yard was a spot for unloading piggybacks. During my time at Wichita we had two yard jobs working six days a week (2nd & 3rd shift), one train between Wichita and Neodesha working six days a week and one train between Wichita and Ellsworth working six days a week (actually an Ellsworth turn). The Ellsworth turn did not go all the way to Ellsworth every day. As you might expect the old heads worked the Ellsworth job and I never had the opportunity to work it. However, I did make one student trip. During the Wheat harvest a Beaumont turn ran 5 or 6 nights a week. To be a little more clear, from the East the Frisco entered Wichita from Neodesha, Kansas (the mainline went through the middle of a steel fabricators complex) coming to a wye. If you went left (southwest) at the wye you would go to the old yard/station, if you went right (northwest) at the wye you would go to the new yard. Between the wye and the new yard the Frisco crossed the MP and the RI. Also the main line went by the stockyards, but by that time the stock business was gone. Parallel to the Frisco yard was the ATSF yard. At the time I thought it was a big yard, but actually it was not a very big yard. There was an industrial park between our yard and the ATSF and we only had one track going to one industry. The ATSF had the rest and it was a large industrial park. An interesting tidbit is that almost every night we would get a load of meat off the RI or MP (I don't remember which) for Pensacola (Naval Air Station). The interesting thing about this move was that the local icehouse had a truck with an icing ramp on it and would ice the reefer just before we left town. I can remember waiting (with engines on the train) for the ice truck. Another interesting thing about Wichita was that there was a lot of street trackage. As matter of fact from where the tracks turned northwest at the wye, the main line ran down the middle of a street for most of the way to the yard. We always had to be careful and watch for drunks pulling out on the tracks. Also, most of the trackage downtown was in the middle of various streets (lots of business). To get to the old yard we used tracks belonging to Union Station (when the Frisco built the new yard the city of Wichita had the Frisco remove the tracks across Douglas which was the main downtown street). There was a tower on each end of Union Station and we would have to get their attention to get on the Station tracks. All of this was done on the 3rd shift, which made it worse (sleepy-sleepy-sleepy). At the old yard the Frisco had built an industrial park and there were several industries to switch. I heard the story about why the Frisco built the new yard but don't remember it exactly. I believe the reason was that the yard downtown was very confined (next to the RI depot and Union Station and there was no room for growth). Another reason was that the city of Wichita wanted the Frisco to do away with the street crossing overDouglas (at grade). To do that the Frisco would have had to use Union Station tracks to get to the yard which would have necessitated a saw by move on the Southwest end of the yard. (As was done by switch engines after the crossing was removed) The new yard was built on property that the Frisco had advertised for industrial growth. It was a large plot of land and only one industry ever built on it (in the 70's or 80's). I could never understand why there was not more growth, especially since industry was located all around our main line but not served by us. Wichita was also unique in that they had the crew consist agreement before there was a crew consist agreement. In the early 60's when the RR's got the right to do away with the fireman there was also some verbiage about certain jobs that could be run with a conductor and brakeman only. The Ellsworth job was one and the midnight switch job was the other. Of course the Forman on the midnight job did not want his regular man to lay off because he would get someone inexperienced, like my self, to work with. I can remember many a night being completely lost! Those were the days! The last time I was in Wichita (1998) the yard was still there (looked like it was used for storage), the yard office was mostly boarded up, the diesel shop and freight house/rip track were gone. All the other buildings were gone, all the city street tracks downtown were gone, and there was only two industries left at the old yard. The main line to Neodesha was gone and the main line to Ellsworth went to Valley Center about 5 or 10 miles west of Wichita and ended.