Friday, December 28, 2007

4th of July, 1961. Part 1

Pacific Coast Terminals, New Westminster, BC. July 4, 1961. What a treat on the eve of steam to run across this tough little switcher. And you can see the pride of ownership! That bell is so shiny it looks almost transparent! Built for the US Army in 1942, she was purchased by Pacific Coast Terminals in 1946. She is now running at Heritage Park, Alberta, but as CP 2024, a slight bending of history.

My buddy Elwin Purington and I had ventured north out of Seattle for 4th of July weekend, to do some train chasing in Vancouver BC. Rich hunting grounds, what with the Pacific Great Eastern, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and even Great Northern, along with this Terminal Operation.

Elwin had a mobile recording studio in the back seat of his Corvair. You can see the microphone stands in front of the vehicle. He is well known for the vast sound collection he’d built up over the years, beginning with a Wire Recorder. Most folk have never heard of a
wire recorder. One of its amazing tricks was, that if the wire broke, a simple square knot would have you up and running in no time at all! Elwin provided background steam sounds for several commercial railroad videotapes.

At any rate, we had been recording and shooting stills for about an hour and a half, when the switch crew tied up for a coffee break. Elwin did a playback for them, which was quit the novelty! The engineer, to the left of the vehicle, is just now taking off the earphones. 

Several times during the playback, he glanced over to the locomotive to see if the parking brakes were still holding!

The fellow leaning in on the passenger side to look at the recorders is the fireman, and the gentleman to the rear of the Corvair is the switch man. The others were just curious bystanders, all of who wanted to listen to the tape!

Mr. Purrington has passed on, but thankfully I’ve got audio cassettes of some of the fantastic sounds we gathered over the years, not to mention wonderful memories of running the “loop” in Seattle. And “stay tuned” for Part 2 of this three-day weekend, featuring the Pacific Great Eastern up in my Hometown, North Vancouver!

Railroad stuff: PCT 4012, 0-6-0, ALCO Schenectady, 1942, number 70388.

4 Comments - Click here:

Unknown said...

There are all sorts of things to love about this photograph, including that righteous dark green Washington license plate (A = King County), a non-rusty Corvair, and old dudes with hats. No doubt half of them were smoking while listening to the playback tapes!

Thanks for the shot.

Unknown said...

Elwin Purington's work can also be heard on "Northern Pacific - Farewell to Steam," a great 30-minute video of the final Seattle-area steam excursions on the NP in 1957. Great stuff.

Unknown said...

I recently purchased several audio tapes from the estate of William Steventon, founder of the Railroad Record Club. Apparently Mr. Steventon and Elwin Purington corresponded by sending each other audio tapes. One of these tapes were among my purchases and is quite interesting. On it Mr. Purington talks about the lack of steam locomotives in Seattle, listing the ones he has recently seen at the roundhouse. He also talks about a July trip to British Columbia to record CNR steam, perhaps the very trip you accompanied he on. He includes a few minutes of audio from the trip that I think ended up on one of Steventon's LPs. He then talks about arecording he made of a fantrip powered by NP 1372. Their is about 12 minutes of sound included on the tape. There is a very good sequence of the locomotive taking on water at Issaquah, WA. I would be happy to send you a copy on CD if you like. The whole thing runs about 35 minutes in all.
Do you know what happened to Mr. Purington's tape and who has possession of them today? I would very much like to hear some of Steventon's side of the conversations if possible.

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Despite my close relationship with Elwin, I learned of his passing from his companion. But no mention of the wire and tape recording collection. El had a MASSIVE layout in the basement he rented in West Seattle. I spent many hours helping him clear derailments! El did tell me most of his collection was sold off to cover expenses, an issue many of us face. I had a large collection of brass geared locomotives, gone to pay for engine tune-ups,windshield wiper blades, or dental extractions!

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