Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Report From The Road (Part 5B) - An Explanation!

Thanks to a link sent from my good friend Cathy from Old Town School classes and our weekly open mic on Wednesdays at Bad Dog Tavern, I have an explanation for the railroad car warning. Apparently, there is a railroader's inside explanation which had nothing to do with what I was imagining. I suppose I thought it had to do with stacking cars or containers on top of one another. From a very good article explaining the warning "DO NOT HUMP" at straightdope.com:

It refers to a common method used to sort freight cars known as "humping," which involves the use of a man-made hill, or hump. A track heads up the hill and branches into numerous parallel tracks on its way down the other side. To make up new trains, a switch engine pushes a string of cars to the top of the hump, where the cars are uncoupled one at a time. Having determined the car's destination, a worker in a nearby tower pushes buttons or throws levers or whatever to get the track switches (you know, those things where one track divides into two) lined up properly. The car is then given a nudge, causing it to roll down the hump and onto the right track.

There's gotta be a song in this somewhere...