Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Great Northern 218

Great Northern 218, Interbay Yard, Seattle, December 26, 1959. My Dad had completed his tour on the MV Comet, and we have just returned to our home in West Seattle, following our three years in Prince Rupert.

We have all heard on the cop shows “watch your background” before taking a shot at someone. The smoke in this photo is not coming from the locomotive but somewhere over on Salmon Bay. Checking your background is easy to forget in the excitement of capturing a scene.

I had just gotten my drivers license and beginning to explore Seattle's railroading venues. And my, what a potpourri we had to choose from: Northern Pacific, Milwaukee Road, Union Pacific, and Great Northern.

Each had its own ambiance. Each had a variety of power packs. And each had provided great opportunities to wander amongst the units and through the engine facilities, with no fuss. Unheard of in today’s environment.

Here we are at Interbay Yard, squeezed between Elliot Bay and the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Northbound traffic out of Interbay lead to Vancouver BC, or, taking a right turn in Everett, the Cascade Mountains and points east!

This Google earth view shows the round house that always had some nifty treasure to behold. This view was shot after the “Great Merger.” Cascade Green units can be spotted just south of the round house on the “ready track.” To the left, locate a set of parallel tracks and you can discern a northbound freight, waiting for the highball. There appears to be a Santa Fe (red
cowling) unit spliced in between two Empire Builder colored units.

In this view of the yard, you can clearly see Fisherman’s Terminal at Salmon Bay. This is home mooring for many of the vessels you see on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” series.

Several years after I took this shot, following my tour in the Air Force, I worked as a country-western DJ, midnight to six. My apartment was on the hillside overlooking the yard, just off the left side of the views shown here.

To look at this scene for yourself, plug in “Salmon Bay, Seattle, Washington” into Google Earth and do some exploring! We knew it as Interbay Yard. I guess Balmer Yard is the more familiar name now. I am sure much has changed since my last visit 41 years ago in 1968!

Railroad Stuff: Great Northern Railway 218, built by ALCo in January 1950, serial number 77893. ALCo RS-2, 1,500 horsepower. GN road class RS-4. Traded to General Electric in February 1965 for a U-boat.

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