“What were you doing yesterday?” asked my friend on the phone. “I chased jiggers all day!” I answered. Dead silence on the other end of the line. I had visions of that raised eyebrow and doubtful facial expression that suggested that “moi” had flipped her wig. ”You what??” she quizzed. “I chased jiggers or speeders as they are sometimes called.” She didn’t have a clue to what I was talking about. I explained that jiggers were a four-wheeled motorized vehicle used to transport railway workers on the railroad tracks years ago. Jiggers are 5–7 feet in length, some completely enclosed; powered by a small gas engine; carry 2–4 passengers, depending on their size; and travel about 30 miles per hour. Railroad enthusiasts like to find and refurbish jiggers.
Several jiggers loaded on trailers were parked by the Tourism Centre in Rosetown on Sunday evening, July 10, 2011. After supper at the local restaurant, I asked the waitress if she knew anything about those jiggers parked outside. “No”, she replied. The couple behind me overheard our conversation. “Not many people know what they are. How did you know they were called jiggers?” said the gentleman. “My dad worked for the railroad and I had rides on his jigger when I was young,” I replied. To my surprise, these people were part of a tour of 20–25 speeders travelling abandoned railroad lines in Saskatchewan. This couple from California informed me that their railroad excursion would start Monday morning at Elrose at 8 a.m., continue west thorough Eston, arriving at Eatonia about noon, then return to Elrose after their noon break—a distance of about 120 miles.
I assured these restoration speeder buffs that I would see them tomorrow and bring along some old railroad pictures…
See our web exclusive interview with Saskatoon rail car veteran Art Vessey here. (Available online only.)