Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

CSX Serves Rice a Train; New Locomotive Named for a Pioneer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

CSX Serves Rice a Train; New Locomotive Named for a Pioneer

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

WAYCROSS -- CSX Transportation has a Rice Special, but unlike the old Orange Blossom Special hauling juice, it has nothing to do with the cargo.

The railroad commissioned a locomotive as the W. Thomas Rice Special yesterday to honor W. Thomas Rice, who was head of Seaboard Coastline when the railroad opened the big hump yard in Waycross that now bears his name.

Hump yards get their names from the big earthen mounds that use gravity to switch cars onto individual tracks in building trains for dispatching to destinations around the country.

Rice even got a version of the special to take home: a scale model in the blue and gold CSX colors. As Rice showed off the model to Harry Dixon, a retired CSX engineer and Georgia legislator who is now a Georgia Department of Transportation board member, the real thing glided down the track.

The special is a 432,000-pound locomotive that is 72.2 feet long, said Clarence Gooden, senior vice president of CSX's Merchandise Service Group.

The General Electric locomotive has six powered axles that deliver 4,400 horsepower, Gooden said.

Told he could walk from the tent where the anniversary ceremony was held to see the locomotive, Rice said, "I'd love to run it."

Rice, now 91 and living in Richmond, Va., said he started work on the railroad in track repair and that he ran locomotives during World War II.

"I didn't run a diesel,'' he said. "I ran a steam engine overseas and a diesel later.''

As he walked up to the huge locomotive, Rice smiled appreciably.

"Doggone," he said. "It does have my name on it.''

Gooden said the train will not be a commemorative model, that it will run the rails.

"It's not just a good-looking locomotive. It's an integral part of our fleet,'' he said.

Rice told the crowd just how close Rice Yard came to being south of the St. Marys River in Jacksonville.

"The yard was not to be in Waycross,'' he said. …

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