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This article appeared in the JD Tower Issue of the Bull Sheet, April 1992

Making Westbound Moves from Potomac Yard

By Tom Swearman

I suppose the most unusual thing I remember about JD Tower was the turning of westbound freight trains out of Potomac Yard. This was before the installation of the crossovers at Melrose Avenue, which took place in 1943.

The train was made up backward at Potomac Yard, so arriving at JD the engine was where the caboose should be and the caboose was where the engine should be. Also, the engine had to be turned.

It seemed as though the trains were always too long to clear the switches in the eastbound siding. So after the caboose was cut off in the east wye, the train was pulled out onto number 2 main far enough to clear the east wye, then shoved back up far enough into the strait to clear the main and a cut was made to clear the east wye switch.

The engine then came back number 2 main and through the crossovers, picked up the caboose in the east wye, took it down to Riverdale, and put it on the east end of the train in the siding.

The engine then returned number 2 main, was crossed over, and back down the east wye. He let himself through the west wye, which then had hand-throw switches, backed up to the head end of the train in the strait, shoving it back and making solid to the remainder of the train in the siding. He then shoved the entire train through the siding east onto number 2 track, then headed west through the crossover onto number 1 track.

This was quite an operation, so not only was the operator glad to get it over with, so was the dispatcher. Two or three trains a day had to make this move.