Sounds of silence

An eerie silence descended in the northern environs of Historic Northeast last week as the sun set on the Union Pacific rail yards after an over 100-year history.

For the first time in roughly thirty years of residence here, there were no train horns sounding, no metallic brakes squealing, no coal cars banging knuckles during the entirety of our early morning runs through the neighborhood.

It brings a bit of melancholy to this NewsDog’s world.

The Union Pacific (UP) railroad shuttered the yard last week with only a two-day notice, laying off over 200 workers who called the Neff hump yard home.

The UP is transferring operations to the Armourdale yards in Kansas City, Kansas as part of their 2020 unified, streamlining plan.

By last Wednesday,  the once bustling and noisy rail yard was a ghost town.

Being one of the largest rail yards in the region, the Neff hump yard can effectively switch between 1,500-2,000 rail cars per day.

The Armourdale yards have no hump and can only accommodate between 700-900 cars per day, which makes this critically-thinking pooch wonder why the move was made to begin with—corporate talking-head psycho-babble aside.

This Dog will actually lose sleep over the move. Moving to Northeast from downtown Parkville in 1990, trains were and are part of the audio and visual landscape in both communities.

There’s something comforting about hearing the tonality of the different train horns at the various crossings in the East Bottoms.

Knuckleheads Saloon at the Prospect and Montgall crossings built its whole persona on its proximity to the rail line that often had crossing trains interrupting music events at the venue.

Owner Frank Hicks actually built a catwalk above the memorial caboose so that Knuckleheads customers could maybe catch a piece of the rail mystique vicariously through a blaring Union Pacific air horn and the deafening chugging of a locomotive powering up.

This Dog can’t think of a better interruption to a blues show than a train horn. Robert Johnson, Johnny Cash, and David Allen Coe would be in agreement here.

Throughout the night hours, it was easy to tell when the switch engines were pushing strings of cars over the hump as large, metallic booms would follow—a sign that another car had been added to another train bound for a far-flung destination.

Sadly, the chugging sounds of the switch engines, the squealing of brakes and all the wonderful industrial noises associated with living above a rail yard will cease to be.

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