The following was written by Ken Bailey, one of our members after observing an operating session.


The Rail Lodge gang had gathered, ‘bout a Tuesday night ago

They’d done their business meeting, but there still was time – and so

Dick fired up the computer, and the layout power as well

He planned to hostel up some trains, as near as we could tell.


The screen burst into color, with a myriad of light

The layout lights responded, like a brilliant, starry night

The sound chips in the steamers started barking squeals and chuffs

We’ll run a dozen trains tonight, and show this crowd our stuff!


Dan quickly grabbed a hand-held, like a freed-from-captive heifer–

One hand dialed up the Rio Grande , the other the "Q’s" Zephyr.

Joe’s lining up the El Cap, and the Chief was soon to follow,

The visitors drew breaths, a few gulped a nervous swallow.


Dick sent these trains out screaming down the high-speed inner main

The line meant just for passengers – but now he did the same –

As Kyle pushed out a manifest, Northwestern’s on the point

We’re out to set a record for the trains run in this joint!


The Erie now jumped in and soon joined the fray –

Tom’s costly Atlas diesels at last saw light of day!

Dick hunkered at the dispatch board, a gleeful railroad gnome –

Ten more to go to record-break, before we could go home!


The next to run was Leo (some just call him "Uncle Pete"),

For Armor Grey and Yellow always brought him to his feet.

A brace of UP U-boats were his major claim to fame

Hand-held in hand, he dialed them up when Dick called out his name.


A dozen trains lit up the board and joined into the fray

With twinkling eyes, Dick uttered, "I’ve not yet begun to play!"

Between El Cap and Zephyr, with the switch-throws working hard,

He squeezed a B&O coal drag a-rollin’ from the yard!


With trains now rounding every curve, and tangent track, and tunnel,

Dick never wavered from his screen, and though as through a funnel

The crowd was gathered ‘round there too, a few now looking pale

Some wondering what be their fate, should something chance to fail.


At last one wee one dared to voice the crowd’s unspoken fears –

And Dick replied, "It’s never failed! Not once in fifteen years –

I’m certain – sure – as you’d be to, if you but had the facts –

We’ve got an iron-clad guarantee – hand-signed by Digitrax!


As if to test Dick’s steely nerve – or that of his supplier

Or maybe just coincidence, or Power somewhat higher

Or barometric pressure, or some other science frightening –

The layout room was lit – and split – by brilliant, flashing lightening!


The Digitrax had beeped four times when came the crash of thunder

Dick kicked the chair, sprang to his feet, and tore his cap asunder

The screen was swallowed up in black, then came an evil pop

That meant that we had lost our ace – no automatic stop!


Now every signal in the room beamed out an all-clear green!

Joe fainted, Tom passed out with fright, and Leo clutched his spleen

Dan saw his life pass ‘fore his eyes, and Ken was breathing hard

As twenty trains now bore down fast on North Proviso yard!


Dick’s brow grew dark, his eyebrows knit, but then he beamed with glee

He barked, "Who clears the yard of cars can take them home for free!"

But only if you hold the switch points with your little finger

Until each train stops, safe and sound, you only have to linger!


A scramble for Proviso yard soon turned into a dash

Some lusted for free trains, but others just to stop a crash

Within a dozen seconds, all the yard tracks now were open

As, fingers at the switch-points, all prepared, as Dick was hopin’


The Rio Grande sped o’er the points, its coaches rattlin’ hard

And coasted to a stop, a-safe an’ easy, in the yard...

Soon Leo’s UP came behind, and coasted to a stop...

With all the people sweating so, Dick went to get a mop–


The Chief and the El Cap too went in the next track down

The color came back to Joe’s face – and Tom then came around –

The Erie and the B&O then safely made the jump

And then the "Q" slid to a stop with just a little bump.


The public cheered, glad tho’ perplexed, at what had saved the day

Dick said "I told you, never fear, we always end this way!"

It wasn’t till the crowd had left, he said with signs of burnout:

"I’m sure glad now we spent the cost for isolated turnouts!"


2007 Ken Bailey, Sheboygan Wisconsin


Updated Saturday, June 16, 2007