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Author Topic: Missing Trains
Vincent206
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With the mystery of MH370 being so prominently discussed in the news these days, I'm wondering if there has ever been a case of a train simply disappearing from the tracks, never to be found again? In the novel Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson there is a train that plunges into a deep lake and the train and its passengers are never recovered. I don't know if that incident is based on an actual event or if it's pure fiction. Does anyone know of any incident where a train (freight or passenger) has completely vanished?
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yukon11
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There was a Japanese passenger train that, for a while, disappeared back in 2011. They eventually found that it was hit by a tsunami and derailed, killing a few of the passengers.

Here is a model train that seems to disappear. briefly, as it goes into a tunnel. It reappears a moment later:

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2013/03/vanishing-train.html

Richard

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George Harris
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It is probably more difficult to make a train dissapear than any other object that travels in air on water or on land. You just don't go very far beyond the rails, and you always follow tracks to their ends. When they do dissapear, for example the Japanese train, you know exactly from where.

Dissapearing from the signal system is another story. There was a collision on WMATA due to that cause.

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Geoff Mayo
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Short, lightweight trains on contaminated rails can also lead to their disappearance. No such problem with axle counters instead of track circuits, though other issues have to be mitigated for axle counter detection.

Sort of the opposite to the OP: there is a debunked rumour that Box Tunnel in the UK, designed and built by the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel, houses dozens of steam locos - the only things that would work in a nuclear fallout. This came about for a number of reasons: Box tunnel is in a military area; there are a number of former munititions storage facilities around the rail tunnel; there was once a connection to the main line at the eastern portal and the access door can still be seen. The most delightful factor is that the sun shines through the 2-mile long tunnel just once per year - on Brunel's birthday! This latter has been proven to be true, albeit due to the planet's alignment changing, it's actually within a day or two.

--------------------
Geoff M.

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Railroad Bob
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There were two tales I "heard of" during my working days on the western rail systems. Incident 1 was an Espee locomotive (I believe an Alco-PA) that "got loose" from its tie down at the top of Beaumont Pass/San Timoteo Cyn line in the 1950's. It became a westward runaway, and the Dispatcher could see it "knocking down block signals" at incredible speed. Finally his control block lights just blinked out. Gone.

Several hours later, the wayward engine was found partly buried in a farmer's field full of soft mud and high grass, actually obscured from quick view. It had left the rails and plunged itself into the soft soil, and was finally extracted from its unlikely resting spot. There may even be some old pictures of this incident, but have no link, so I guess it's a believe it or not. The story was told to me by an ancient SP conductor, who said he was 'there' when it happened.

The other story that was bandied about Amtrak in the early 80s was an F-40PH loco that had disappeared from the roster; well - it couldn't be found, anywhere in the System. A rumor circulated at the time that it had been "sold" to our neighbor to the south for a briefcase full of cash, and had left Los Angeles late at night in a freight bound for Mexico, hidden under a heavy black industrial tarp. Again, no proof and a believe it or not, but apparently that F-40 loco was truly "never found" to this day. The story was repeated to me by several different ppl back then. Those are the two stories I heard regarding the "Lost Train Blues."

Like George says, it's hard to lose a train...

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George Harris
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Didn't one of the Clive Cussler novels have a dissapearing train, or at least car or engine?

Had heard, whether any truth to it have no idea, that when Penn Central went through its spasm of track abandonments that an old boxcar pulled off an out of service brance to be pulled up was found to contain brand new Model T Fords.

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Vincent206
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500 train cars missing from Bulgarian State Railways

sounds like someone had a pretty good scrap metal scam going on

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yukon11
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by George Harris:
[QB] Didn't one of the Clive Cussler novels have a dissapearing train, or at least car or engine?

******************
I believe, George, the Clive Cussler novel is titled "Night Probe". Here are some of Cussler's remarks about the inspiration for the novel:

"Lost Locomotive of Kiowa Creek Hunt for the lost locomotive of Kiowa Creek, Colorado. January, 1989. This search came about as the result of reading an article about a train wreck and the mystery of the missing locomotive in 1978. The event inspired the basic concept of a book I wrote several years later entitled, “Night Probe”. As told by the following pages and articles, a Kansas Pacific freight train traveling east on the night of May 21, 1878, fell off a shattered bridge into a stream swollen by flash floods and was wrecked with the loss of three lives. Most of the freight cars and coal tender were salvaged in the weeks to come, but the engine was supposedly never found. Though my son, Dirk, and I had conducted a few cursory searches in 1981 and 1982, we found little in the way of magnetic anomalies to inspire a more in-depth effort. Not until 1989, when Craig Dirgo joined NUMA as a director, did we began to get earnest about finding the engine. After promoting a search, we were swamped with over three hundred people on a cold wintry day in January. Using nearly thirty metal detectors, magnetometers, radar ground penetrating units and a backhoe, we turned up only a few bits and pieces of the wreck. No hint of the locomotive was indicated. Even a satellite search by the government failed to detect a heavy mass of iron. Finally, a hunt through railroad archives by Loyd Glasier of Denver turned up a record of the locomotive being dug up in the dead of night and towed to Kansas City, where it was rebuilt and renumbered. I personally think it was a nineteenth century scam to collect on the insurance. The railroad, of course, denies this. Why, I can’t imagine? The Kansas Pacific and its insurance company are long gone."
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I am currently reading a Cussler book, "The Striker", about a coal miners strike in and around the turn of the 20th century. Might make for a good movie.

Richard

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George Harris
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Yes, Yukon11!!

It was Night Probe. It has been a few years. Reading your quote reminded me of it.

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dcfan
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"The Abduction of Virginia Lee" by Frank O'Rourke (1970) features the stealing and subsequent hiding of Virginia Lee, a private car.

Wesley

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