Friday The Thirteenth:Railroad Superstitions

Discussion in 'The Caboose' started by eightyeightfan1, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Heard any superstitions related to railroads?
    Can a penny on the rails derail a train? I think thats a famous one...though the Mythbusters busted it in one of their episodes.
    Anyone know how that one got started?
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    If pennies derailed trains, I'm responsible for a number of wrecks. Never saw any derailed trains when I retrieved my pennies.
    There must be a bunch of superstitions around the railroad community.
  3. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    I think I remember one about only entering a tunnel by foot on a west facing exit or something like that can anyone verify?
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Sorry guys I did not see this sooner.
    My Great Grandfather would become irate and would cuss the hostler out if he turned the engine against the sun..This was suppose to bring bad luck to the engine crew.
    If a locomotive derailed several times and killed any of the engine crew then it became a "voo doo" locomotives and many crews would not use that engine.
    Stepping on a rail as you cross the tracks was a sign of bad luck.
    A number 13 engine was pure bad luck while a engine numbered 666 was a bad omen and a cursed engine bound to bring grief or death to the engine crew.
    Dismounting from the left side of a locomotive would cause a crewmen to be injured during the days run...
  5. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member


    ...your trains for they may not run tomorrow.

    i swear by it. if you don't run your trains on the 13th of fridays- brrrrrrhuuhhhh. i shiver.
    i can't even think of it.

    i know it's past the 13th of fridays, i ran my trains and they run today. see, i knew it.

    uh-sigh of relief. geesh.

    i hope they run tomorrow. the 16th of mondays. oh, wait a sec, apparently those superstition guys don't have our train schedule. we only run a few commuters and a local frieght.

    ehhh- get the schedule and if you wanna move superstitious stuff over the line, you're gonna have to check with the front office. sorry. ask for faith. faith will direct you in the right direction.
  6. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    That's not all that superstitious, however. It's still a generally accepted practice never to get off an engine on the fireman's side (left side). The idea is that you always want to be in sight of the engineer, as the old rule (still in force) is that if your conductor goes out of sight, the engineer must stop. But if the engineer doesn't even see you leave, bad things can happen.

    It's not absolute, and I've gotten off the fireman's side before, though usually only when we are stopped in the yard, or if I tell the engineer first. But that's the root of where it comes from.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I wonder too about the exitign the left side of the loco - do railroads subscribe to "right-hand running" when there is a double track? In that case, you could be stepping off into the path of an oncoming train - not only bad luck, but just plain dangerous!

  8. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Yes... and no.

    Although the general practice in double track territories (except for notable seceptions like CNW) is to run right-hand, most railroads use CTC in double territory, and it's not uncommon to see a train running "wrong main" to get around a slower movement.

    Getting off on the inside of double track would be more dangerous than getting off on the engineer's side as well. Although there is usually enough track spacing that it can be done. Sometimes circumstances force you to get off on the fireman's side, however, which is why it's not a hard and fast rule anymore. Although railroads today are more red-tape bedecked, at the same time, there is less red tape based on tradition and more based on liability. Rules that existed "because we always did it that way" like the fireman's side susperstition in most places remain just that -- superstitions, not safety rules.
  9. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Which Conrail dispatching practices have proven to be illogical. You've got a 50mph manifest freight being followed by a 70mph van train (This is Conrail, afterall!). Crossovers are only good for 45mph, so why send the faster train through the slow crossovers? Conrail figured out to cross over the slower train and let the faster one pass on the straight rail but it seems CSX and Norfolk Southern have yet to figure this out. *sigh*
  10. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Not all crossovers are good for only 45. The BNSF Seattle Sub has 55mph crossovers, and there are faster ones in existance, they are just not in common practice in the U.S. Light equipment that can accelerate fast -- such as PAX -- will generally be run around the slower movement.

    That said, the point remains that "wrong main running" may happen, sometimes frequently.
  11. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    UP had a locomotive numbered "666" that seemed to be possessed. SOme crews would flat refuse to use it. It had a lot more than its share of failures and accidents too. Finally, it was renumbered (by itself, not part of a regular renumbering program) and low and behold, it ran fine and stayed out of the shop after that other than for Periodic maintenance.
  12. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    In other words it stopped getting vandalized? ;)

    Isn't there some superstition about lifting your feet as you drive over the tracks? Or is that something to do with grave yards? I never can remember.
  13. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    BNSF did the same with their 666 although CSX has one that's run for years without problems (aside from it being an AC60, that is).
  14. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    You're ABSOLUTELY correct...It's almost Scary. I didn't run them on the 13th, and they haven't run correctly since. I'm tearing down this layout soon (not for that reason at all though! :D ) and Building a new one. Your prophecy WAS correct...AAAHHH!! :eek: :rolleyes:

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