A look at
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Last Train from Minonk

by Paul Vallow

It was a clear Tuesday in early May in 1985 when the last train from Minonk left town. The following day the line was to be enbargoed south of LaSalle to await the scrapper's torch. Service from LaSalle to Freeport continued for a few months longer before also being scrapped.

The train consisted of a worn 4 axle GP10 locomotive and caboose with a few other cars. The Arco plant south of town had two empty tank cars to be picked up and added to the train. I was just leaving work for the day when I heard the engineer sounding the whistle for the Eighth Street crossing. Soon the train stopped between Fifth and Fourth Street to leave its caboose. Mr. McDonald was the conductor and Mr. Austin was the engineer, both were men that I had known since childhood. We talked about this being the last train to ever leave Minonk and of the good times years before.

Conductor McDonald and I continued to talk while engineeer Austin and an extra broad brakeman went south of town to retrieve the two tank cars from the Arco plant. They soon returned with its cars and along with the other four cars and caboose did a run around move using the house track siding to get the locomotive in the head end and the caboose on the rear end. The extra broad brakeman seemed bored, but Mr. Austin and Mr. McDonald and myself continued to swap stories about the railroad.

We shook hands and Mr. Austin climbed into the cab and took his place on the right hand side of the cab while Mr. McDonald and I walked the short distance to the caboose,where he got on. He waved a highball signal to me and spoke into his radio highball Mr. Austin, out station Minonk for the last time. Mr. Austin answered with 2 long blasts of the whistle, which is the signal to release brakes and proceed. I stood and watched until the caboose was out of sight. The last train from Minonk was gone forever.