by Louise H. McGregor, staff writer
More than one Deer River area resident was curious and wanted to know just what was that bright yellow equipment parked on the south side railroad track.
“It arrived last night,” said Steve Jurvelin on Feb. 20. “I have been wondering just what it is and what it is used for.”
So, he did what most people do. He Googled for an answer.
It turned out that the bright yellow equipment is from Herzog Railroad Services, Inc.and is called a versatile Multi-Purpose Machine (MPM) that railroad companies lease when they need it.
This information came from the Herzog website. “The MPM is a maintenance provider that easily and safely handles labor-intensive tasks such as ditching, tie distribution, tie pick up, rail pick up, PTC and signaling installation, general cleanup, OTM distribution and pick up, grading and crossing work, tree removal and thinning, land clearing, snow removal and material (ballast and rip rap) distribution.
“MPMs are capable of reaching up to 27 feet from the track center. Each machine is equipped with a Roto-Tilt articulating head which makes it ideal for general cleanup, OTM removal or redistribution, re-ballasting crossing areas, ditching or grading and a multitude of other jobs.”
The first question about the yellow equipment parked on the railroad track in Deer River was answered. But, there was another question. Why did the engine have the phrase “DO NOT HUMP” on the front of it? Is that a railroad term?
It was back to Google for this chancy search where the answer was found on The Straight Dope. Yes, it is a railroad term and does not have anything to do with the off-color explanation that often comes to mind for many people when they read or hear that phrase.
The Straight Dope answer to the question is as follows. “It refers to a common method used to sort freight cars known as ‘humping,’ which involves the use of a man-made hill or hump. A track heads up the hill and branches into numerous parallel tracks on its way down the other side. To make up new trains, a switch engine pushes a string of cars to the top of the hump, where the cars are uncoupled one at a time. Having determined the car’s destination, a worker in a nearby tower pushes buttons or throws levers or whatever to get the track switches to line up properly. The car is then given a nudge, causing it to roll down the hump and onto the right track.
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