Sunday, March 9, 2008

Shoebox #3, Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Rail Road

I am working on an update for “Boxcars Go to Sea.” Waiting on confirmation of data from Foss Maritime in Seattle. In the meantime, I found a couple more gems in that shoebox full of photos that I purchased from Shories Bookstore at the Pike Place Market in Seattle years ago.

Shoebox #2 evoked memories of the late Maynard Laing, who I knew through my association with the late El Purington and the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association. As I recall, Maynard had a brother who was an engineer on the Great Northern.

I remember seeing a photo of his brother in the cab of one of GN’s big electric monsters up in the Cascades. The group met monthly to share slides, films and fill up on great donuts and ho-hum coffee. Elwin at that time was in charge of refreshments!

Other names that come to mind include Dick Trash and Art Hamilton.

Shoebox #3 is a couple of marginal photos taken of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific (Milwaukee Road) roundhouse in Bellingham, Washington, June, 1967! Took a while with my Microtek i900 and Silverfast software to get these photos presentable!

The story of this round house take us back to the heady days at the turn of the century when robber-barons were running amok with bags full of money, staking out rail lines for revenue, and of course for green gold – timber!

From what I can ascertain, the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia was a concession granted to connect the Canadian Pacific to the US through Sumas to Bellingham. This line was completed March 1st, 1891. Serving not only as a connector with the Canadian Pacific, The BB&BC tapped in to timber and other riches!

In 1918, Bellingham Bay & British Columbia was purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific – the Milwaukee Road, as part of its extension into the Puget Sound area. Since there was no physical rail connection with the Milwaukee Road in Seattle and Bellingham, BB&BC's new owner began ferrying cars between Bellingham and Seattle on barges pulled by tugboats!

So now Milwaukee Road has car-floating revenue between Seattle and Bellingham, and Seattle and Port Townsend. Uhm. More on this later!

Many portions of these historical rail lines, including the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia (BB&BC) have been converted into multipurpose hike, bike, and horse trails.

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