Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adrenaline Rush on Hauser Way!

Milwaukee Road E-32A on Hauser Way, Renton Washington, December 26, 1964. 

My buddy El Purington and I had been making the rounds on a terrible stormy day, the day after Christmas, 1964. Earlier we had been down to Auburn, and paced an eastbound Northern Pacific freighter up the climbing curve at Covington.

The roar of a gaggle of EMD's foot down in run 8 absolutely vibrates your lungs as they roar by. 

There is no comparing the staccato 567C to “modern day” big bore horsepower!

From Covington we took the two lane concrete thumper over to Maple Valley, to pick up a Milwaukee electric train entering Pacific Coast Railroad territory.

The operator – I believe his name was Bob Lillengreen – was a gregarious sort of fellow who loved to have company on a stormy winter night. The coffee was “railroad” burned – never did have a decent cup of coffee at any rail facility – but it was warming.

We waited for E32A coming down off the mountain. Bob explained that as the caboose cleared
Tunnel 50, a “burping” sound was transmitted on the radio speaker. He had little time to bundle up the authorization for the freighter to move over the Pacific Coast from Maple Valley down to Renton, thence across the valley floor to the red signal they would face at Black River Junction.

The crew picked up their orders and eased out toward Renton. We bid Bob a fond farewell and hustled down to Renton to watch the Growlers tiptoe through town.

Adrenalin Rush on Hauser Way

We easily caught up with the west bound freighter as she was down to 10 miles per hour with that gawd-awful cow horn blatting into the night dragging the classic mixed consist freight train down Hauser Way in Renton.

As she approached, you could hear that familiar sound of growling gears, traction motor blowers, and the “blank-blank-blank” of a bell that really didn’t ring.

El and I stared in disbelief as the fellow facing us at the curb had moments before reckoned he could fit between E32A and his curb!

The engineer had the horn tied to the floorboards as we all expected the worst!

Here’s a later version of the Milwaukee Road easing down
Hauser Way, long after the trolley was removed.

What a remarkable contrast between running over the wide-open spaces of eastern Washington and downtown Renton!

I am so grateful that I was able to enjoy those magnificent machines! The last time I saw the E32A, she was being cannibalized at South Tacoma in an effort to keep her sisters running.

And a family of birds had made her their home.

2 Comments - Click here:

Chris BIGDoer said...

You article on the E32A had me wondering. I've seen many older GE locomotives and their builders plates often list Schenectady NY. I always understood that GE's locomotive manufacturing actually took place in Erie and wonder if Schenectady was a satellite plant or if they simply listed it as a home office?

Kurt Clark said...

How interesting to see a Box Cab on Hauser Way. In all the photos I've seen of street running on Hauser, yours is the only one I've seen of night operations. It is still very tight quarters along that street; back when the Dinner Train was running, my son and I would hang out in the truck and watch the big F-units come rumbling by. They truly made the ground shake.

Thanks for a great story.

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