Heading down Monster Road toward the White River valley floor, we had to pass by the mysterious Technical Research Company.
Black River Junction
|Milwaukee Box Cab Southbound at Black River Junction Tower. Circa 1935.|
|Pacific Coast #14 Southbound for Black Diamond. Circa 1935.|
Free of grade level crossing, freighters and varnish had their first shot at Run 8, heading south, clearing the carbon by the time they passed Black River Junction Tower. After dark, the area became more exciting. Air horns shouted out from north and south. It was a guessing game what railroad was passing through. Spring and fall would bring foggy evenings, which heighten the exhilaration. Headlamps became comet-like apparitions, and sounds muffled.
It wasn't until 1927, that the Milwaukee completed the electric lines from Black River Junction to Seattle. Until that time, the electrics were replaced by steam at Maple Valley to haul trains to Seattle!
At the controls of the Box Cab on the inaugural run was Seattle's Mayor Bertha Knight Landes.
Milwaukee Road Magazine, Ms Landes proved to be very competent at running the Box Cab the 10.1 miles from the Junction to Seattle.
At one time there had been a beautiful functioning Black River. It was fed by over flow from the south end of Lake Washington, flowing generally SW emptying into the White River.
Today, one can trace the former river bed, as it winds up from the former confluence with the White River.
When the Milwaukee Road marched across the continent, construction terminated at Maple Valley Washington.
The Road signed a 99 year agreement with the Pacific Coast Rail Road (PCRR,) to make it's way down to Black River Junction, and north to Seattle. So that leg of the road was dispatched by PCRR
From Black River Junction to Tacoma, dispatching - excluding the PCRR stretch - was conducted from the famous "D" street warehouse in Tacoma.
Williamson's Final Report
Back in the '70's, the Milwaukee Road filed papers with the Interstate Commerce Commission, requsting abandonment of the west extension. As part of the process, The Road hired the prestigious Booze, Allan, & Hamilton (BA&H) consulting firm, to support the claim that it was too expensive to continue operations west of Miles City Montana.
To that end, BA&H contracted with Harry M. Williamson, a self-employed railroad engineering consultant, with an impressive resume. Mr. Williamson conducted a detailed survey from Miles City to Tacoma. The purpose of his examination was to provide an estimated cost to bring the Road up to not Class One, not Class Two, but to Class Three status.
This report to support the notion that the Milwaukee Road could not afford to repair the line, should the Interstate Commerce Commission deny the abandonment application
Here is a view of Black River Junction Tower few rail fans could ever image capturing in their lens! These photos are from a series of photos, taken to document Williamson's findings.
|Believed to be Paul Cruikshank, VP Operations, Milwaukee Road|
Presented as "Written Direct Testimony of Harry M. Williamson" often referred to as the "Williamson Final Report," it makes for interesting reading.
|We think Harry Williamson is far left next to Paul Cruikshank. In the "hole" just south of Black River Junction, meeting southbound Amtrak.|
While there is much speculation including conspiracy theories concerning the demise of the Road - some implicating Washington Governor Dixi Lee Ray. However, Governor Ray came into office in 1977, long after the Roads tooth decay began!
A Blog article is dry toast without photographs. So I am always grateful when photographers permit my use of their photos to illustrate a story.
• John Carr, for the Black River Junction Tower shots, taken whilst he was stationed near Bremerton in the US Navy. His web site - Carr Tracks - contains a cornucopia of rail photography!
• Thomas White, for his "Maple Valley Dispatchers Record of Movement of Trains."
• Scott Lothes at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, who generously allowed use of the photos from the Williamson assessment trip.