Monday, March 31, 2008

Thunder in the Mountains!

Great Northern 3025. Gold Bar Washington, February 1969. I’ve mentioned before my adoration of Great Northern dispatchers ability to round up whatever was sitting around the roundhouse at Interbay and glue them together into colorful power packs!

A mixture of this-and-that wind up east of Gold Bar, climbing up to the Cascade Tunnel. Words cannot describe the awesome power and roar as these diesel engines, floor boarded in Run 8, passing less than 50 feet away from me. I could feel the reverberation in my chest!

Geeze. I miss the Great Northern.

Winds of change are in the air, as we notice a "Big Sky Blue" paint scheme in the middle of this consist. Can consolidation and a Fallen Flag be just over the hill?

Railroad Stuff: Great Northern 3025, General Motors GP-35, 2,500 hp, built March 1964, serial number 28441, became Burlington Northern 2508, retired April 1987, ending up at St. Louis Auto Shredding in August 1987.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Steam Generator Car

Canadian National 15403, Steam Generator Car, Prince Rupert, August 8, 1957. Unfortunately, I paid little attention to these units, like taking photos of them, documenting their specifications, so-on-and-so-forth. Let me explain:

Steam power was replaced by diesels on First Class 195/196 in the closing days of 1957. At first, a passenger train power pack was a pair of SW1200RS’s plus a Steam Generator Car. However, the short wheelbase of the SW1200RS’s – a mere 22 feet between truck centers - gave the crews a wild ride. I remember my first trip on those locomotives; I was alarmed by the roll, pitch, and yaw of these engines at mere 40 miles per hour!

Needless to say, the road crews must have had choice words about the assignment of these units for the "geniuses" back at Western Region Headquarters in Winnipeg! And very soon, Geeps replaced the short wheel based units.

However, like the predecessor's, the GP-9’s were not being erected with steam generator units. So a Steam Generator Car (Unit) was required for basic passenger comfort, including light, heat and electricity!

In order to utilize these units, a selected number of GP-9's were outfilled with contol and monitoring equipment in the cab, with a corresponding control cable connection on the locomotive.

From what I can determine, Canadian Car & Foundry built a gaggle of these Steam Generator Units. In addition to CC & F, General Motors Diesel Limited (London Ontario) built Steam Generator Cars. I believe this is
good example of one of those, with the round port holes.

As I said in the beginning, I am distressed that I did not document these units. In fact, this is the only shot I took of a unit sitting by itself at the Prince Rupert Engine Facility! I did very well with builders’ plate information and locations on locomotives; film type, ASA, shutter speed and so on.

But remember, I was a mere lad of 14 years old, and did not comprehend the importance of notations for photos, especially when I began to share them 50 years later!

I found a
color photo of one of 15403's sisters in a detailed roster. The rectangular windows, confirms her as CC&F. Here is a unit built for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

If you have information about these cars, please respond in the “Comments” below! I’d love to have more photos and especially technical information about these cars.

Railroad stuff: Canadian National 15403, built by Canadian Car & Foundry in 1956.

Steam Generator Car Updated

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Locomotives on the ground!

Canadian National Railways 4205+4208, Mile Post 106.7, Skeena Subdivision near North Pacific Cannery, January 1958. Yet another CNR train, a pair of GP-9L's, Extra West 922, comes to grief almost ending up in the Skeena River!

This is the third wreck in same area. Passenger train 196 tripped over a rockslide here in September 1958.

It is a geologic problem. Very old rock which easily fractures when ground water seeps into it, winter freezing on a steep slope, and nowhere for the CNR to go. The river is right there!

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways 4205, nee CNR 4501 by GMD in London Ontario as GP-9L, road class GR-17g, 1,750 hp, November 1956, serial number A-1019. Renumbered to 4205 in 1956. Flexicoil trucks replaced with EMD Blomberg B trucks in 1962 and reassigned CNR 4501.

Canadian National Railways 4208, nee CNR 4590, built by GMD in London Ontario as GP-9L, road class GR-17g, 1,750 hp, June 1957, serial number A-1242. Rebuilt as GP-9RM 7272 in 1993.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sperry 131 hit by derailment!

Sperry Rail Service 131, Aleza Lake, Fraser Subdivision MP 108.8, June 1954. It doesn't get any better than this! A derailment created by a split rail, sending a boxcar into a Sperry Detector car!

Studying the clothing, you can determine who is SRS crew is as compared to rail crew. The technicians are obviously concerned to prevent further damage to the rail detection car while the rail crew ponders what to do next.

Many external defects and visible indications of internal defects are overlooked in visual inspections. With a
Sands Mirror an inspector can visually inspect approximately one mile of rail per day.

However, even this type of inspection, acknowledged as the most efficient method of visual inspection, cannot detect those internal separations of the steel within the rail head known as Transverse Defects, and frequently overlooks vertical split heads.

The transverse fissure first came into prominence as an outstanding cause of rail failures as a result of a derailment at Manchester, N.Y. in 1911 in which 29 persons were killed and over 60 seriously injured. In the investigation following the accident, Dr. Howard of the U.S. Bureau of Safety identified a broken rail as the cause of the derailment.

A study of the rail revealed a defect which was entirely internal (which Dr. Howard termed "transverse fissure") and which was definitely established as the cause of the rail failure. A number of other railroads began
private investigations to determine the prevalence of transverse fissures in their rails. The results of these investigations showed that transverse fissures were widespread.

Sperry Rail Services has been responsible for thousand of miles of safety inspection over all railroads, and have been responsible for preventing hundreds of accidents.

Railroad Stuff: Sperry Rail Services 131, Built by St. Louis/EMC for Lehigh Valley, 1925, serial number 1376134. To Sperry 1941.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

General Motors F3A

Union Pacific 1447, Argo Yard Seattle, August 13, 1960. You gotta love the chain link fencing that adorns the F3. But I have it on good authority that it did keep the critters out!

This shot was taken at Seattle’s Argo Yard. You may not have thought much about it, but Union Pacific never laid rail to Seattle, but here they are in Seattle, and is the only one of the Big Four – NP, GN, and Milwaukee, that did not run over the Cascades.

In 1906, the Union Pacific incorporated the Oregon & Washington railroad company to work on construction of a line from Portland to Seattle. However, the Northern Pacific was already operating a line from Vancouver to Tacoma, so they structured a joint operating – track rights, over Northern Pacific steel, to get to the Puget Sound.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1958, when the Union Pacific purchased the
Spokane International Railroad, finally giving them contact with the Canadian Pacific in the Pacific Northwest.

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific 1447, built as F3A, 1,500 hp, built by Electro Motive Division in May 1948, serial number 5712, 247,400 lbs. Retired in March 1963.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

All Aboard Washington!

It's amazing what you trip over whilst doing research on the Internet. While I was researching the NP - UP connection and track rights issues, I tripped over this web site, "All Aboard Washington."

I encourage you to pour a cup of coffee and do a reading. This gentleman has done his homework on the tough transportation issues facing Washington State residents.

Back in the late '60's whilst working at a Country Western Station, KBLE AM/FM, I hosted a 30 minute program called "We Believe in Seattle." On one of my programs, I interviewed a gentleman whose area of study was population densities and that relationship to transportation.

He pointed out that while the beauty of Seattle lies in her contact with water - the Puget Sound and Lakes Union and Washington, she is a fem fatal. Those bodies of water constrict viable transportation corridors.

Uhm. I see the Alaska Way Viaduct is down for inspection again. Am I ever glad I chose Port Townsend for my retirement!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Boxcars Go to Sea - CN "AquaTrain"

Boxcars go to Sea – The update! As I first conveyed at the beginning of this blog, my late Dad, Harry McDonald, served as Chief Engineer on the "M/V Comet (LT 393, Miki Class) from 1956 to 1959.

We lived in Prince Rupert from 1957 through 1959, and it was here, at age 14, I became deeply interested with railroading. I am not sure of what transpired after we left, although we do know a fire destroyed the “M/V Comet” in 1966 at Prince Rupert, and she ended her days scuttled at Port Ludlow on Puget Sound. And Ketchikan Pulp was shuttered in 1997.

Lower 48. Railroad barge connections from the Lower 48 with Alaska Railroad were primarily from Seattle to the Port of Whittier. However in May 1962, the Canadian National – Alaska Rail Road “AquaTrain” car barge service was initiated.

The rail barge is loaded at the very same rail bridge slip at Pillsbury Point in Prince Rupert where I spent many hours watching “the Ward Cove connection.” Towing responsibilities passed through several operators, finally to Foss Tug & Barge of Seattle, known now as Foss Maritime.

In 1982 a massive new car barge bearing the name “AquaTrain” was placed in service. The barge
AquaTrain is 425 long, 100 feet wide, with a capacity of 45 rail cars on 8 tracks. Each string of cars is coupled to the forward bulkhead of the barge. Each car is supported at each “corner” with a screw jack and ratchet chain and hook assembly.

Brutal run. As of this writing, the “M/V Corbin Foss” built in 2003, is assigned the 1,450 nautical mile round trip, over what can only be described as “optimistic” at best passages, across the Gulf of Alaska. The “M/V Corbin Foss”, at 142 feet by 40 feet, is rated for service world wide, being equipped with two FM/ALCo V-18 diesels, giving her 8,200 hp, the muscle needed for this run across the Gulf of Alaska.

After the termination of locomotive production in 1969, ALCo locomotive designs were transfered to the Montreal Locomotive Works, who continued their manufacture. The diesel engine business passed through several ownership changes, and ended up in the hands of Fairbanks Morse! Fairbanks-Morse continues to manufacture ALCo-designed engines in addition to their own design.

Following Foss tradition, the "M/V Corbin Foss," is named for Corbin Foss Hansen, the great, great, great grandson of company founders Thea and Andrew Foss. Corbin was born on March 5, 2002.

A round trip in the summer months usually takes 8 to 9 days, whilst a round trip in the winter months usually takes 11 to 12 days. A study published in 2005 stated that if the Corbin Foss made 35 round trips to Whittier, 1,575 cars would be transported. Another study concluded that overall, 7% of freight sent to Alaska is via rail car.

Crossing the Gulf of Alaska. Since the "Comet" travelled the Inside Passage to Ketichikan, there was only one brutal exposure to the Gulf whilst crossing Dixon Entrance. And these photos were taken on "good" days, because in "bad" days, all hatches were literally battend down!

On several trips I made with my Dad, we actually had to travel 20 miles up Portland Canal before it was safe enough for us to make the right turn down the Canal and across Dixon Entrance.

My Dad went on to work for Foss for a couple of years, and here he is on the “Mary Foss” bunkering at Coos Bay. He had a photo or two published in Mike Skalley’s definitive work on the history of Foss Maritime.

My “Thanks” to Mike Skalley, Foss Maritime Company Historian and Manager of Pacific Northwest Customer Service, who knew my Dad, and authored the definitive history of Foss Maritime, to David Hill for providing the photographs, and to Laurie Zuvich for fielding my phone calls.

Since this was written, the "Corbin Foss" was involved in a serious waterfront fire.

Be sure to read the other entries in this series:

Boxcars Go to Sea Oct 6, 2007
Boxcars Go to Sea - Alaska Steamship - May 26, 2008
Boxcars Go to Sea - Vancouver Island - Nov 8, 2008
Boxcars Go to Sea - "M/V Corbin Foss Burns!" - Feb 28, 2009

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Great Northern Potpourri!

Great Northern 425, departure from Interbay Yard, Seattle, June 1969. By far, of all the railroads available to me in Seattle in the late ‘60’s, Great Northern was my favorite.

My high school sweetheart and I lived in an apartment overlooking Interbay Yard. We were less than a mile from Bridge 4.

I had just gotten out of the US Air Force, and following a year at KTIL in Tillamook, I landed a midnight to six am shift at KBLE AM/FM in Seattle as a country-western DJ.

For the most part, I just wandered down to the Yard and watched freighters move out, heading north toward Everett continuing north up the Puget Sound to Vancouver, or hanging a hard right, heading to the east over the Cascade Mountains.

Most times I went without my camera; just to enjoy the throttle up as heavy revenue pulled out of Interbay. What I loved about the Great Northern was their imagination and diversity!

In this example, we have an SD45 on point, pulling on an GE U33C, snagged onto another SD45, rubbing noses with an F7-Bravo, connected to an F9-Alpha, with a final SD45 rounding up the group!

Dispatchers grabbed whatever units were nervously sitting around, awaiting assignment!

Great Railroading!

Railroad Stuff: Great Northern 425, SD45, 3,600 hp, built EMD July 1968, SN 33792. Absorbed into the Burlington Northern as 6455, and subsequently returned to lesson, US Leasing and became Chicago & Northwestern 6574 in December 1983. Rebuilt as Southern Pacific SD40M-2 8618, January 1995. Became Union Pacific 4644.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weyehauser 031 Update!

Received an email today from Cheryl at the Train Mountain Railroad Museum, informing me that Weyehauser Spreader 031 is still there, and available for viewing by appointment only.

Let me know if you happen to swing by Chiloquin, Oregon, and get us some updated photos!

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Is it Delivery or DiGiorno?"

BNSF 981, Marysville Washington, March 17, 2008. A truck driver apparently got confused with his delivery destination and got tangled up with a northbound BNSF freighter with predictable results!

Scattered over a three block area were frozen pizza and baked goods.

Shoebox #4, Grand Trunk Western 5046

Grand Trunk Western 5046. Location unknown, October 1960. I found yet another gem in that shoebox full of photos I purchased from a bookstore at the Pike Place Market in Seattle years ago.

The Grand Trunk Railway has a long and colorful history. Generally known to most rail fans as being the US operations of the Canadian National, Grand Trunk Western has always shared equipment, color schemes and corporate logos with parent company Canadian National.

It followed CN's herald styles with its own name on the previous "tilted shield" and "Maple Leaf" logos. In 1960, GTW had its own initials incorporated into the
"wet noodle" logo.

In 1971
GTW broke tradition and began receiving its new locomotives in its now famous bright blue, red/orange and grey scheme. At the same time the railroad would also adopt its company slogan; The Good Track Road.

CN’s subsidiary Grand Trunk Corporation now controls almost all of CN's U.S. operations which include Grand Trunk Western, Illinois Central, Wisconsin Central, Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific and Great Lakes Transportation, GLT, which includes the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, B&LE and the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, DMIR.

The Association of American Railroads has considered the Grand Trunk Corporation as a single Class I railroad since 2002.

Railroad Stuff: Grand Trunk Western 5046, 4-6-2, road class J-3-a, Baldwin Locomotive Works 1912.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


So after the mergers, acquisitions and abandonments, what's left and who's running it?

I tripped over this website whilst doing reseach on snow sheds and tunnels. I have no idea who Mr Cooley is, but I can certainly appreciate the time and energy it takes to create these publications. Give him a try, and let me know what you think about the ACCURACY and quality of his maps.

Speaking of energy, the only other thing you need beside a good up to date map, is a USDA Food Loan for gasoline!

I have resisted the urge to use my blog as a vehichle to bash Bush, but it is becoming clear as to what Darth "Cheney" Vader was planning at his secret "Energy Policy" meetings during the first years of our Nation's Darkest Years.

Write, call or email your representatives and tell them "Hell no, we will not be blackmailed into opening ANWAR, Northern California offshore, nor Florida offshore for exploration and ruination!"

Ironically, "Anwar" is an old Arabic name meaning "Luminous".

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sue, the Stewardess - Nurse!

Northern Pacific 6511, Auburn Washington, May 27, 1961. The Electro Motive Division power pack chants quietly at East Auburn, anticipating her eastward journey. Her EMD's sound deceptively friendly at idle speed. She’s taken on most of her passengers up in Seattle, but on the other side of the train, the excitement of boarding a transcontinental train is palpable, as a flurry of activity at the final Puget Sound loading is completed.

The North Coast Limited began as a summer tourist operation in Aril 1900, and in response to its popularity went “full time” in 1902. During the zenith years – 1952 to 1970 - this train was rated in the top tier of Streamliner service in the USA.

Featuring roller bearing wheel sets, brass windows, valet services, a barbershop, separate bath and shower facilities for men and women, a soda fountain and radios on-board. Tables in the dining car were set with fresh flowers and linen table cloths.

Raymond Lowey was engaged to improve the image, and in 1954, the dome cars were added, and the train renamed the
Vista Dome North Coast Limited.

The luxury train featured a visually stunning two tone color scheme, interiors representing the Lewis and Clark Journey of Discovery, and a full service train crew which included a registered nurse.

I remember well the advertising slogan for “Sue, the Stewardess – Nurse!”, a wonder-woman who was on board to help families navigate their cross country adventure.

I never had the need to ride one of these trains, but it must have been a magnificant adventure, fueled by the competition for the travelers dollars between the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, Western Pacific, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific.

As a matter of fact, it was the Union Pacific who raised the bar on customer service by introducing the concept of including
a nurse on the passenger train staff back in 1935! The Western Pacific had had the Zephyrettes.

Enter AMTRAK. The magnificent Raymond Lowey paint scheme of 1953 gave way to the totally ugly Cascade Green under Burlington Northern ownership,
represented here by renumbered NP 6014A, and yet another ugly scheme, represented here by sister NP 6511C - AMTRAK 105.

So. Loading at East Auburn has been completed, and that fellow standing on the platform, will get the hand off from the conductor, and slip the throttles forward. Those magnificent V-16’s will work up to Run 8, and a whole new ambiance will take over, as they immediately lean into a grade up out of the White River Valley!

Railroad Stuff: Northern Pacific 6511A, General Motors F-7A, 1,500 hp, built EMD La Grange, 1949, sn: 8736. After “the merger” renumbered BN 9780, renumbered AMTRAK 104 in 1972. Retired 5/75, traded for FP40. Scrapped by Pielet Bros.

And, if you’d love to run this locomotive, it is available to you as
Modelpower Metaltrain #104!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Train Master - Revisited!

Southern Pacific 3031, 3rd Street San Francisco, May 1967. At 66 feet long, this is the Fairbanks-Morse Train Master. "...the most useful locomotive ever built..." Upon its introduction in 1953, the 2,400 horsepower H-24-66 Train Master was the most powerful single-engine diesel locomotive available, until the arrival of the Alco RSD-7 in 1954.

The dipping handrail is indicative of the so-called 1b modification. A gaggle of these units shuffled commuters out of 3rd Street Station in San Francisco for years. The opposed piston, 2-cycle was touted in a sales brochure, as "No other engine is so right for railroad service!"

Indeed! My late Dad was Chief Engineer on a
tug that had one of these motors. As I recall his comments on the motor were very colorful, especially if the motor crapped out mid-way between Astoria and Honolulu, and repairs were needed on the lower half of this motor. Here be interesting information on the marine applications for the opposed-piston concept.

I was stationed at Hamilton AFB from 1963 through 1967, and found photo shoots at South San Francicso, and Oakland (both SP and WP) very friendly, as long as you didn't do something stupid or get in the way. SP 3020 is the first article on FM's Train Masters. How fortunate I was to have seen these beasts in action. Believe me, when they whistled off from 3rd Street, they moved out!

Railroad Stuff: Southern Pacific 3031, nee 4811 (renumbered to 3031 in 1965), Fairbanks-Morse H-24-66, 2,400 HP, steam generator for passenger service. Correct nomenclature is Train Master, not Trainmaster nor TrainMaster. Preserved Units (accuracy not guaranteed.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weyerhaeuser 031

Weyerhaeuser Spreader 031, Klamath Falls 1967. Robert E. Strahorn envisioned a railroad that would connect the Southern Pacific rail line in Klamath Falls with the Nevada-California-Oregon line in Lakeview, the Union Pacific line in Burns, and the Great Northern’s line in Bend.

Construction began on July 6, 1917 on the Oregon, California & Eastern Railroad. By 1923 the line had reached the community of Sprague River. Six years later the Railway reached Bly, which became the end of the line for the OC&E Railway.

Logging camps with spur railroads sprang up almost overnight, and by 1919, four lumber mills were located on the main line. The engines transported carloads of enormous pine logs to the mills, often carrying as much as one million board feet a day!

And this fragile looking wooden Spreader had pushed many a snowflake over the mountains into Bly.

Enter Weyerhaeuser. Weyerhaeuser had extensive timber holdings west of Klamath Falls, reaching all the way westward into Jackson County. In addition, the timber giant owned blocks east of Klamath Falls, and determined to run their own line eastward to tap that timber, rather than working out tariffs with the OC&E already established very close to their timber holdings.

In the end, however, concessions were agreed to, and Weyerhaeuser became OC&E’s largest customer, a relationship that existed into the mid 1970’s. This link will take you to the
compete history of this mutualistic relationship between the two entities.

In 1990, OC&E’s incarnation as a logging railroad ended. Weyerhaeuser Timber Company railbanked the right-of-way to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, and the transition from a railroad to a trail began.

And so the line lives on! Welcome to the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, Oregon’s longest linear park! This 100-mile trail is built on the old railbed of the Oregon, California, and Eastern Railroad (OC&E).

The trail, which is open to all non-motorized recreation, begins in the heart of Klamath Falls, and extends east to Bly and north to the Sycan Marsh.

Bly, Oregon is also the site of the only American
causalities in the Continental US during the Second World War. Five Americans were killed here by a Japanese bomb.

And what became of Weyerhaeuser Spreader 031? Well she can be found at the
Train Mountain Railroad Museum in Chiloquin, Oregon.

Railroad Stuff: Weyerhaeuser Timber Company Spreader #031. I’m not so sure this is a Jordan Spreader. There were other manufacturers including Bucyrus, Mann-McCann, and even homebuilt. Let me know!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Great Northern's Gas-Electric Rail Cars

On August 31, 1922 the Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation (EMC) was incorporated in Cleveland, Ohio. EMC designed its railcars, but assembled components from other firms and had the railcars, themselves, constructed by established passenger car builders. By October 1923, construction of EMC's first rail motorcar had begun in the shops of Saint Louis Car Company.

On October 28, 1925 Great Northern 2313 was completed. Given the serial number 130, it was the 30th production rail motorcar. GN 2313 first entered service on November 27, 1925 for trains 259 and 260 between Marcus, Washington and South Nelson, British Columbia.

Here is the fully illustrated story of Great Northern 2313, designated an American Society of Mechanical Engineers Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Shoebox #3, Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Rail Road

I am working on an update for “Boxcars Go to Sea.” Waiting on confirmation of data from Foss Maritime in Seattle. In the meantime, I found a couple more gems in that shoebox full of photos that I purchased from Shories Bookstore at the Pike Place Market in Seattle years ago.

Shoebox #2 evoked memories of the late Maynard Laing, who I knew through my association with the late El Purington and the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association. As I recall, Maynard had a brother who was an engineer on the Great Northern.

I remember seeing a photo of his brother in the cab of one of GN’s big electric monsters up in the Cascades. The group met monthly to share slides, films and fill up on great donuts and ho-hum coffee. Elwin at that time was in charge of refreshments!

Other names that come to mind include Dick Trash and Art Hamilton.

Shoebox #3 is a couple of marginal photos taken of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific (Milwaukee Road) roundhouse in Bellingham, Washington, June, 1967! Took a while with my Microtek i900 and Silverfast software to get these photos presentable!

The story of this round house take us back to the heady days at the turn of the century when robber-barons were running amok with bags full of money, staking out rail lines for revenue, and of course for green gold – timber!

From what I can ascertain, the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia was a concession granted to connect the Canadian Pacific to the US through Sumas to Bellingham. This line was completed March 1st, 1891. Serving not only as a connector with the Canadian Pacific, The BB&BC tapped in to timber and other riches!

In 1918, Bellingham Bay & British Columbia was purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific – the Milwaukee Road, as part of its extension into the Puget Sound area. Since there was no physical rail connection with the Milwaukee Road in Seattle and Bellingham, BB&BC's new owner began ferrying cars between Bellingham and Seattle on barges pulled by tugboats!

So now Milwaukee Road has car-floating revenue between Seattle and Bellingham, and Seattle and Port Townsend. Uhm. More on this later!

Many portions of these historical rail lines, including the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia (BB&BC) have been converted into multipurpose hike, bike, and horse trails.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Shoebox #2, Rayonier #70

Rayonier #70, 2-8-2, Puget Sound & Snoqualmie Valley Railroad, date unknown. Years ago I bought a shoebox full of locomotive photographs at a bookstore at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. For the most part it was a boondoggle – a lot of out of focus or poorly exposed photos – with little or no information on the backs of the photos.

Recently I re-visited the shoebox, and took a closer look at its contents. Low and behold, I found another gem, taken by god-knows-who at the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association’s Puget Sound & Snoqualmie Valley Railroad at Snoqualmie Washington.

Originally built for the Polson Brothers Logging Co. of Hoquiam, Washington. Polson Brothers Logging Company began business in 1895 in Hoquiam. In 1903, the name was changed to Polson Logging Company. Judging from the size of this home Mr. Robert Polson built for his nephew; he must have been very successful!

While the company owned Shays and Climaxes for frontline woods works, rod engines were needed for faster mainline runs to the mill. In 1922 Baldwin Locomotive Works was contracted to build 2-8-2 Polson #70.

In 1948 the Polson Logging Company was sold to Rayonier, Incorporated, who had extensive lines running throughout the Olympic Peninsula. Rayonier expanded railroad operations into new cutting areas even further from the log dump and to look for even larger locomotives to haul the longer trains on the mainline.

When she could no longer keep up with main line demands, #70 was assigned to work trains and eventually Rayonier sold her in 1963.

Rail fan Maynard Laing of Seattle bought #70 in 1963 and placed her in service for Puget Sound Railway Historical Association on the Puget Sound & Snoqualmie Valley Railroad.

Upon Mr. Laing’s passing, Number 70 was sold to the
Mount Rainer Scenic Railroad in Mineral, Washington.

Mr. Laing is well known for his 16mm films capturing steams twilight years of Rayonier, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, teaming up with Elwin Purington, who did his tape recorder magic. And I remember fondly the hours we all spent both at the PSRHA monthly meetings in a business car on a siding behind Owens-Illinois Glass on Marginal Way in Seattle, viewing some good - and some bad, 35mm slide shows, and 8 and 16 mm films.

Railroad Stuff: Rayonier #70, nee Polson Brothers Logging #70, Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2, built April 1922, builder number 55355. 1948 to Rayonier of Hoquiam, 1963 to Maynard Laing of Seattle, and finally 1992 to Mount Rainier Scenic.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Shoebox #1, Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd #17

Years ago I bought a shoebox full of locomotive photographs at a bookstore at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. For the most part it was a boondoggle – a lot of out of focus or poorly exposed photos – with little or no information on the backs of the photos.

Taken by god-knows-who at the Puget Sound Railway Historical Association’s Puget Sound & Snoqualmie Valley Railroad at Snoqualmie Washington, CC (D) Ltd #17 running live!

Number 17 was originally built as an 0-6-0T by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1866. She was later fitted with a front pony truck, becoming a 2-6-0T.  Indeed, the saddle tank leaked so rightously that a water tender was added!

There, sailing ships, steam ships, tugs and barges loaded coal, not only for bunkering, but destined to heat the houses and buildings of San Francisco, and other destinations.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd #17, Baldwin Locomotive Works, 1886, 2-6-0T, nee 0-6-0T.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Union Pacific 66, Cheyenne Wyoming, August 1958. You’ve got to hand it to Union Pacific – they did not shy away from experimentation with curvature straightening big box horsepower!

Not since the Norfolk & Western’s
Jawn Henry,” the name given to this locomotive, taken from the legendary black construction worker who pitted his hammer and drill against a steam drill and died in the attempt, and Chesapeake &Ohio’s trio of coal-fired steam turbines, had such an audacious leap outside the box been undertaken.

Not many folk know it, but the Union Pacific’s dabbling in turbines began back in 1938, when General Electric came up with two turbine units, which proved to be miserable failures, ultimately scrapped in 1939.

But leave it to the Union Pacific’s “Department of Research and Mechanical Standards”- the same folk who brought you the 4-8-8-4
“Big Boy” and the DDX40A “Centennial” to put a blank piece of paper on the drafting table, and come up with the oil-fired GTEL - gas turbine electric locomotive in several distinctive flavors!

UP 61-75 were nicknamed "Veranda Turbines" because they were equipped with outside walkways along the sides of the car bodies. The other permutation of the oil-fired gas turbine was referred to as the
“green house” car body.

The GTEL’s generated more horsepower per foot of locomotive than any diesel. The 4,500 horsepower Veranda produced 137,930 pounds of starting tractive effort!

Here is a most detailed account of Union Pacific’s exciting experiments with “out of the box” locomotive design!

My oldest living friend, Mike Hebden, took these photos of UP 66 whilst on a rail tour in the late 50’s. I met Mike in Prince Rupert in 1958, and in a later article, will chronicle our friendship which continues to this day.

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific 66, Gas Turbine-Electric Locomotive, built by General Electric 1954, sn 32033, 15 units in this order. UP 61-75 single-cab 4,500 horsepower Gas Turbine locomotives were delivered without tenders. The tenders were added later by UP, rebuilt from FEF-1 class 4-8-4 (800-819) steam locomotive tenders.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

4th of July, 1961. Part 5 - Canadian Version of ALCo DL-701

Pacific Great Eastern 589, North Vancouver, July 3, 1961. We first saw this unit as part of the asthmatic power pack on northbound fourth-class freight #26, dropping anchor to sign paper work in Quesnel BC, November 1959.

And again, I have to admire the Conductor’s jaunty cap, and the youth in him and the fireman, who obviously was embarrassed by the mess he’d made on the side of the cab of the lead unit. Why? Because he never made eye contact with me!

These young men must have experienced great pride in running on a railroad that defied many obstacles. Now a thread of the CN, Canadian National, I am blessed to have seen this road the “way it was.”

Until you’ve heard a gaggle of 4-cycle motors throttling up, you haven’t lived! Whist the GM 567 series “roared” at throttle up, 4-cycle motors, generally running in and out of sync, were frightening! Sounded like the rods were about to depart the engine block!

“Modern” locomotives don’t hold a candle to what us “old timers” shared.

Two years later, my rail-chasing buddy El Purington and I spent the 4th of
July Weekend, 1961, “change-tracing” as we referred to “train-chasing” in Vancouver BC, a cornucopia of locomotive power on the Pacific Great Eastern, Canadian National Railways, Canadian Pacific Railway, and several terminal lines such as West Coast Terminals.

Fans of the “X Files” will recognize locales around North Vancouver, including the destruction of a PGE Budd RDC-2, BC Rail 23, nee CP 9112, blown up November 15, 1995, in one of Mulder’s adventures.

Other connects with North Vancouver? Indeed I connect! I was born at North Vancouver Hospital in 1943, whilst my late Dad was an Engineer on a North Vancouver Ferry!

Railroad Stuff: PGE 589, RS-18 (Canadian Version, Montreal Locomotive Works version of the ALCo DL-701,) 1,800hp, built 1958, SN 82509 renumbered BC Rail 603.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Static Display #5: History of a 2-6-6-2T

US Plywood #11, Stacy Street Yard, Seattle, July 15, 1961. I found this beauty in transit from Kosmos, Washington to her new home at the University of Washington. She served as a static display near the College of Forestry from 1961 to 1973.
Originally built for Ostrander Railway & Timber Company, which operated from about 1892 through 1940. Ostrander was located 3 miles northeast of Longview, just east of Interstate 5, housing the Ostrander Timber Company, with mill, store, and office.

The post office was established in 1894 by Oliver Byerly, and operated out of the company store. The Northern Pacific Railway Company named the town in 1898 in honor of Dr. Nathaniel and Mrs. Eliza (Yates) Ostrander, who filed a Donation Land Claim there in 1852.

Nathaniel Ostrander died in Olympia on Feb. 7, 1902, and Eliza Ostrander died Feb. 22, 1899. The post office was discontinued in 1939

Apparently deemed a liability by the Universities loss control folk, she was loaned to the then known Puget Sound Railway Historical Society, and moved to Snoqualmie, Washington, in 1974. 

Washington State Parks retains ownership.

Here you will find her lengthy but well
documented history, with dozens of photos.

Railroad Stuff: Ostrander Railway & Timber Company #7, 2-6-6-2T, Baldwin Locomotive Works, built 1926, boiler number 59701. You can see her now at the Northwest Railway Museum.