Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Save Blaine Station! Part II

Port Townsend, January 28. You know, when I got to looking at the different photos of the Blaine Station, it suddenly struck me that I was looking at two different buildings! One has two gables the other has one. (You mean to tell me you didn’t notice?)

I mentioned this today during a phone call with Richard Sturgill, and he explained the mystery of the missing gable:

“Some time ago the station had a fire, one can see evidence of a fire in the rafters I don't know if this was the reason or not but Great Northern shortened the building about a third which removed the south gable.”

Great Northern’s “Sea Level Route” was precisely that, all the way from New Westminster down the Puget Sound to King Street Station. The amusing part of this interesting slice of history is that landslides still interrupt Seattle-Vancouver traffic at least once or twice a year, more than 100 years later!

According to Richard, the present station is the second location, the first being a distance east. When the Great Northern realigned the roadbed to basically follow the beach along Mud Bay and Semiahmoo Bay to Blaine, this station becomes number two!

There is an exquisite irony in that James Jerome Hill was a Canadian by birth, who masterminded the building of the transcontinental Great Northern Railroad. And William Cornelius Van Horne was an American by birth, selected to build the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railroad!

It is interesting to note that Blaine is one of four towns in the United States named in honor of a very controversial gentleman by the name of James G. Blaine. Most notable for serving as Secretary of State in the cabinets of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur; he was the second and last person to hold this position in two non-consecutive terms.

[I’d like to express my gratitude to Pat Grubb, Publisher and Managing Editor of The Northern Light for getting me connected to the right people for completing these articles.]

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