Friday, November 22, 2013

Alaska Railroading

Alaska Railroad 7123, Seward, Alaska, July 1961. My late Dad was working for Foss Maritime as Chief Engineer on a tug I’ve lost track of. They were in Seward when he captured this switcher shifting cars.

It is unfortunate that the Alaska Railroad isn’t as well publicized as those in the lower 48, which is a shame – they run a tortured existence in cold weather, fine tour trains, with up-to-date horsepower.

Seward is the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. In fact, construction of the railroad began here in 1903 under the name Alaska Central Railroad. This keeps the port busy with freight coming on and off the trains, but also makes Seward a primary end point for north-bound cruise ships. Cruise ship passengers get off the boats and take the train farther north to Denali and other Alaskan attractions.

On July 15, 1923, President Warren G. Harding traveled to Alaska to celebrate the completion of the Alaska Railroad by driving the golden spike in ceremonies at Nenana, one of the state's largest cities at the time. 

Tragically, President Harding died from an attack of food poisoning on his return trip to San Francisco on August 2, 1923!

If you would like to learn more about this unique railroad, I found some interesting web sites – one of the more complete posted by John Combs - “
John’s Alaska Railroad web page” loaded with maps, photos, and other nifty stuff – well worth your time to investigate. And of course, the “official” web site!

Railroad Stuff: Alaska Railroad 7123, nee US Army 7123, ALCo S2, 1000 hp, built 1943, sn: 70190, acquired by ARR 1955, retired (scrapped) 1975.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haiyan or Yolanda?

The storm of the century rakes the Philippines, makes landfall on Viet Nam.

The International Business Times reports "Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families. People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food, rice and milk... I am afraid that in one week, people will be killing from hunger." 

A few days ago, I sent an email to one of our few "respected" weather reporters, asking why the Manilla Star newspaper was referring to the devastating typhoon as "Yolanda," whilst the rest of the worlds respected newspapers were referring to the typhoon ass "Haiyan."

His response was  a lame; "for some reason... "

"For some reason."  This demonstrates the shallow depth of this generations news reporting.  Shallow.

However, as a former member of the National Radio-Television News Directors Association, I am not satisified with "for some reason."  WHAT is the reason, I continued to ask!

Finally, today, the Wall Street Journal: Manilla.edition, provided  this explanation.

Radio and TV weather reporters, take note!

Final thought. The meaning of Yolanda is "violet flower". Yolanda is a synonym of the orchid genus Brachionidium

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mr. Cheng Ging Butt

Canadian Pacific Railway 8653, Kamloops BC, July 1958. Dad had loaded us in the family bus, and we drove from Prince Rupert to Seattle for a few weeks vacation. Most folk head south to north for a vacation! At any rate, we somehow ended up in Kamloops on our way south.

I’ve always enjoyed this 35mm slide, as it captures a friendly wave between a pedestrian and the engineer. Shot on 35mm Ektachrome positive, I had a heck of a time getting “the red out” of this 50 year old exposure!

Unlike the Canadian National Railways, CPR ran short nose forward. CNR crews preferred the perceived protection of running long nose forward, although as Geeps got rebuilt, better visibility overcame the fear of tripping over a rockslide!

Kamloops is a major city in the interior of British Columbia, and a division point for the Shuswap Subdivision to the north, heading toward the Rocky Mountains, and the Thompson Subdivision heading south toward Vancouver through Spence’s Bridge and North Bend.

"Kamloops" is the anglicized version of the Shuswap word "Tk'emlups", meaning 'meeting of the waters'. Shuswap is still actively spoken in the area by members of the Kamloops Indian Band.

In a memorable ceremony the Canadian Pacific designated the interchange just east of the CPR Station in Kamloops as “The
Cheng Interchange,” named in honor of Cheng Ging Butt, one of thousands of Chinese laborers who helped construct the Canadian Pacific Railway.

CPR Vice President Paul Clark is joined by a descendant of Mr. Butt, Kevan Jangze, representing the fourth generation of Chinese in BC. This is the only bi-lingual sign on the system.

The Cheng Interchange provides an efficient flow of rail cars from the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railways, a central junction point for freight and passenger rail service in Kamloops.

In addition to the Cheng Interchange, Canadian Pacific Railway announced that a special monument in honor of the thousands of Chinese rail workers who helped construct the transcontinental railroad would be placed in Kamloops.

I find it gratifying that the railroad has taken positive steps to recognize the Chinese Laborers. Take a look at the photos of the “Last Spike Ceremony” at Promontory Point. See any Chinese?

Railroad Stuff: CPR 8653, built as GP-9, 1750 hp at GMD London, Ontario 1957. sn: 1109. Final disposition unknown.

Friday, November 8, 2013

They're Back ...

 ... but not as good as I remember them.  And the cake is much smaller than I remember. And you probably remember the infamous "Twinkies Defense."

We generally walked to Evergreen High School.  On the way home, we stopped in at a small grocer on the corner of 116th SW and Ambaum Boulevard.

The favored treat, in ranking order:

•  Hostess Cup Cakes
•  Hostess sno balls
•  Hostess Twinkies

and a bottle of

•  Hines Root Beer
•  Canada Dry Ginger Ale
•  Orange Crush

Of course, the practice was frowned upon by Mom, since it was just hours from dinner time.

But boy, those were the days!

Monday, November 4, 2013

How Many Electricians Does It Take ...

... to change a light bulb?

Can you top this?  I just did!