Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Approach!" "Approach!"

December 29, 1964. I captured this quartet of General Motors F7's just north of Interbay Yard in Seattle. I was home on Christmas Leave from the Air Force, and was doing some train chasing with my buddy El Purrington.

White Classification Lights announce train is an extra section running "off time table," protected by train orders.

This location was behind the old Time Oil tank farm on Commodore Way.

Time Oil tank farm disappeared between 2005 and 2006. We are looking south toward the Fort Street Bridge in the background. I have written in detail about this structure that passes over the western approach to the Lake Washington Ship Canal, just west of the Hiram Chittenden Locks.

The engineer is keeping the slack tight at reduced speed, approaching the signal indicating Bridge 4 is down and locked. Within the hour, this freighter will hang a right turn in Everett, throttling up for the Cascade Mountains and Stevens Pass. Not until I scanned this Ektachrome slide did I realize the engineer is offering up a friendly wave!

By the way, if you are itching to move, here is a nice little property for sale on Commodore Way, over looking the Government Locks!

In those days before the Great Merger, we had many nifty venues - Yards and track side -  for doing photo shoots on the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Milwaukee Road, Pacific Coast and Union Pacific, all within a 25-mile radius in Seattle.
Off map, to the south in Auburn, NP shops and class yard.
What with the homogenous character of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and the proliferation of "toaster ovens," I lost all interest in railroad photography long ago ...

Railroad Stuff: Great Northern cab unit 448A Model F7A, 1,750 hp, built by General Motors La Grange Illinois, March 1950, serial number 9538. Empire Builder paint scheme. Following Merger became BN 660. Sold to Precision National Corporation in November 1970.

5 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

Though I've never really been a railroad photographer, when I lived in Pennsylvania, it was wonderful to see all of the shortlines. Even though almost all of them were owned by a larger umbrella corporation, the original colors were were maintained. When I first moved to Seattle and then Everett (about five years ago), I loved seeing BNSF engines. We didn't have them in PA. But now, that's all I see and it's really boring. So boring, in fact, that I get excited when I see an older gray Santa Fe or that green BN that's used as a switcher. And being in Everett, all I see are intermodals. It's all kinds of dull.


Rod said...

Stevens Pass. Of course you know that...I love your articles about pre-merger NW railroading.

Robert in Port Townsend said...


Tacoma Tom said...

Thank you for posting the wonderful picture of GN 448A. 53 year ago, I hired on with the GN as a summertime college student temporary employee working in the Tacoma yard as a clerk. I worked graveyard shift and most of the night I worked alone in the office and out in the yard interacting with local switch crews and line haul trains that came into the yard to drop and pick up cars. I often saw the 448A come in as those F units were regulars on the Seattle to Vancouver/Portland trains

Tacoma Tom said...

During the summers of 67, 68 and 69, I worked as a GN yard clerk in Tacoma, graveyard shift. As a 19-21 year old, it was exciting work. The trains dropping or picking up cars in Tacoma would contact the yard office by radio. The 448A came through frequently in 68 and 69. The Conductor would call out on the radio "448A to Tacoma yard, I've got this many cars, which track do you want them on?" "And which track is our pick up on?". I'd go out to meet the train and give them the bills for the cars they picked up. The sound of those old F units and the smell of them was wonderful. Especially when they started to move and increased the power. Great memories. Thanks for posting the picture of the 448A. Good old days!

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