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Crawford Hill Helpers
     A major obstacle for trains heading east out of the Powder River Basin, via Donkey Creek Junction in Wyoming, is Pine Ridge in Nebraska (see Subdivision Map). Loaded coal trains need helper service for the tough climb up Crawford Hill, so helpers are added at Crawford, NE for the push to the summit at Belmont. While several helper sets are stationed at Crawford, Alliance, NE is home base for the Butte Subdivision helpers.
     Although it is only a thirteen mile trek to the summit, the Crawford helpers are in almost continuous operation and consume a great deal of fuel. There is a constant cycle of assists up the hill; one set pushing, one returning downgrade to Crawford and one set coupling on to a loaded coal train in Crawford for the next push. This leaves little time for round trips to Alliance to refuel. Fuel tenders solve the refueling problem and help keep light engine moves on this busy stretch of track to a minimum.
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BNFT 14 at Belmont
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     It is a cloudy mid-summer day in 1984 as a three-unit 9000 horsepower helper set (above) glides to a stop at Belmont behind a loaded unit coal train headed for a distant power plant. The train they have assisted up the hill from Crawford has stopped to release the helpers and retrieve its caboose before continuing eastbound on its way out of the Powder River Basin. The helper set, its job done, will return to Crawford to await the next coal load.
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Newly converted BN fuel tender BNFT 14 looking like it just came off the showroom floor
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     The fuel tender assigned to this helper set is 23,450 gallon BNFT 14. It is former Great Northern tank car No.100031 recently converted for BN fuel tender service. The tender services all three locomotives in the helper set and is configured for pass-through of MU connections from the leading to the trailing engines. As the helper locomotives consume fuel, the tender replenishes their fuel tanks, so they are always fueled and ready to go.

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Tank Top Close-up
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Fuel Line Detail
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